Remember when Nelson Cuba, FOP, was upset about the limits on attorney’s fees in workers’ compensation cases – calling the bills filed in the Legislature “preposterous” and “un-American”? Well, it looks like Nelson will be happy with the Florida Senate. They recently amended their version of the workers’ compensation attorney’s fees bill to provide different criteria that could result in the recovery of more attorney’s fees and costs. The bill is currently ready to be heard on the Senate floor.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? How would you feel if I were to tell you that police and fire were singled out for special treatment in the bill? Maybe not so great, huh?
Well, that’s exactly what the Senate bill was amended to do on Wednesday. Only police and fire are entitled to use different criteria in calculating attorneys fees and costs in their worker’s compensation cases which will likely result in them being able to recoup more attorney’s fees and costs than provided to anyone else in the bill. Interesting. Especially since their attorney’s won’t have to jump high hurdles to prove their cases like everyone else will.
In addition, there is also legislation that could result in higher police and fire pension costs for the City when terminating a plan. One of the bills would have provided a 2-year relief period to cities, allowing them to use non-committed insurance premium tax revenues to pay for the current level of police and fire pension benefits rather than providing new, extra pension benefits. However, that language was stripped from the bill.
These are the kind of shenanigans that make me truly dislike the Florida Legislature and the political process. But I guess it’s no different than in 2007 when the Legislature passed more special favors for “first responders.”
Special favors like:
Lowering the standard of proof from “clear and convincing evidence” to “a preponderance of the evidence” for first responders in establishing the compensability of occupational diseases or from injuries or diseases resulting from exposure to toxic substances;
Eliminating for first responders the requirement of proving a physical injury in order to establish the compensability of a mental or nervous injury, although only medical benefits, not compensation benefits, are payable where there is no physical injury;
Eliminating for first responders the 6-month limit on temporary total disability benefits for mental or nervous injuries payable after maximum medical improvement from the responder’s physical injuries imposed by §440.093(3), Fla. Stat.;
Eliminating for first responders the 1% limitation on psychiatric impairments imposed by §440.15(3)(c), Fla. Stat.;
Providing for the continuation of permanent total supplemental disability benefits after age 62 if the first responder’s employer does not participate in the Social Security program;
Providing for the compensability of any adverse result or complication caused by a smallpox vaccination. FL Workers’ Compensation Law Blog
I guess it’s okay for the Florida Legislature to single out folks for special treatment these days – at least it sure seems like it.