The Supreme Court of Florida has issued its decision in a case (Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Company) that will make a huge impact on the rights of injured workers in this State.
Specifically with regard to the workers compensation claimant’s due process rights under the constitution. The Court, in a five to two decision, opined that the law that was amended in 2009 is a violation of both the Florida and U.S Constitution because it blocks any challenges to the reasonableness of attorney’s fees awarded to the worker’s lawyer.
The Court also focused on the goal and intent of the workers compensation system in this State. That is to quickly provide benefits to get those that have been injured back on the job at a reasonable cost to employers. This, however, is not always the outcome. The Court recognized that in many situations the injured workers undergoes significant delays and resistance by the employer in obtaining the benefits.
The Court goes on to also recognize that “Without the likelihood of an adequate attorney’s fee award, there is little disincentive for a carrier to deny benefits or to raise multiple defenses, as was done here.”
With respect to the fees, the court used the term “emasculated” to portray the attorney’s fees part of the workers-compensation system as changed in 2009 and exemplified in the $1.53 an hour in fees in the Castellanos case. The opinion states that this is “clearly unreasonable and insufficient to afford workers the ability to secure competent counsel.”
For more information regarding the rights of injured workers under Florida current workers compensation law please contact