Florida Workers' Compensation
Nov 25, 2015

LEAD STORY

Litigants and advocacy groups have taken aim at the Florida Workers' Compensation Act, alleging that the Legislature has so eroded injured workers' benefits that it is fundamentally unfair to prohibit injured workers from suing their employer for general damages. Last month, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to consider the latest challenge to the Act's constitutionality in Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, which focuses on 2003 reforms that eliminated permanent partial disability benefits.

JUST THE LATEST CHALLENGE BEFORE THE COURT?

There are at least two other pending constitutional challenges before the state's high court. Last summer, the Florida high court heard oral argument in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg , which challenged Florida's 104-week cap on temporary disability benefits. And,last fall, the court heard Castellanos v. Next Door Co., which involved the method for calculating attorney fees. The Florida Supreme Court has not ruled on either of these cases yet. Might the Court be holding each of these cases for a comprehensive ruling on the merits of the Act?

TAKING UP SIDES

Employee advocacy groups ranging the Florida Workers Advocates and to Professional Firefighters have filed briefs in support of the claimant Stahl's position. Industry is up next. This week the Florida Supreme Court extended the deadline for the respondents to file their response to December 30th. It would appear that the Florida Workers Comp Act will remain intact for 2015, but we've got our eyes trained on the Sunshine State for 2016.

OSHA GUIDELINES

MAKING THE WORKPLACE SAFER

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced this week that it will seek comments related to its updated Voluntary Health and Safety Program Management Guidelines. Although the guidelines do not have the force of law, they offer employers, workers, and worker representatives a sound, flexible framework to address safety and health issues in diverse workplaces.

NEWLY UPDATED GUIDELINES

OSHA is using a proactive approach to manage workplace safety and health. In the past, a new standard or regulation would be published only after workers became injured or sick. These guidelines seek to find and fix hazards before they cause injury or illness and take a tactical approach to work place safety by offering solutions to small and mid-sized employers who may have limited safety resources.

COMMENTS?

OSHA will be accepting comments on the new guidelines through February 15, 2016.

MAKING OUR WAY AROUND THE COUNTRY

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

In July, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the establishment of new rules for overtime pay. Stakeholders responded in droves. The DOL received more than a quarter of a million comments on the proposed overtime rules. This week the DOL announced that its proposed rules for overtime pay will not be available until at least Q4 of 2016.

CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID

Consistent with the provisions of the 2013's Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced that a new electronic portal will become available for claimants and payers to access final conditional payment demands to resolve Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) disputes as of January 1, 2016. And, as it must every mid-November, CMS reported to Congress that the settlement threshold below which the agency shall not pursue recovery its MSP claims will remain at $1,000 for 2016.

THE WHITE HOUSE

This afternoon President Obama is expected to deliver pre-Thanksgiving pardons at the White House. Enjoy life on a Virginia farm, Tom One and Tom Two! We wish all of our readers a safe and claim-free Thanksgiving.

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, OR FEEDBACK?

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Please contact the authors - Greg McKenna and Cari Miller - and let us know how you liked this week's issue. We look forward to and value your feedback.

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