Depending on your point of view, the 2017 Florida legislative session closed with a thud, or on a note of promise and spirited advocacy, but the battle is far from over. RITE law prefer the latter perspective, and they urge their clients and colleagues to join them in their journey through the next session.
Two key initiatives stalled:
- A bill to reform the state’s workers compensation provisions; and
- A bill requiring motorists to carry a minimal amount of bodily injury liability protection.
“As lawyers, we’re advocates for our clients, and we will continue to support beneficial changes for injured workers and Floridians alike throughout the 2018 legislative session,” says Paul M. Doolittle, Esq. “Two organizations working toward this goal are the Florida Workers Advocates and the Florida Justice Association, both of which are collectively making efforts to promote better legislation for all Floridians.”
Lawyers sought changes for injured workers.
Changes in Florida’s workers’ compensation provisions were rooted in the dire need to overall increase benefits for the injured worker, as well as several prominent Florida Supreme Court decisions in 2016 that alluded to the deficiency of the system as it currently stands.
To that end, the major proposed changes are:
- Greater benefits to workers injured on the job;
- Worker participation in the selection of a physician (since employers’ insurance companies exercise sole discretion in selecting physicians and making all other healthcare decisions with the exception of which pharmacy an injured worker may use);
- Competitive rate-making among insurance companies; and
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees so that injured workers can be adequately represented.
“No bill is better than a bad bill” – for now.
While the legislative session ended in somewhat of a stalemate, proponents of the legislative changes for work and accident victims indicated that no bill is better than a bad bill in this particular situation. While disappointed a favorable bill wasn’t passed, RITE law support the collective efforts of FWA and FJA and will continue to do so into the next legislative session while reassuring injured workers that their benefits are not in any jeopardy. “Unfortunately, they won’t have increased benefits – for now,” Doolittle said. “We will continue to fight for injured workers because that is what we do; it is in our blood.”
FWA’s Legislative chair and lobbying team speaking on the “Viewpoint from Tallahassee/
The Legislative Update” topic at the FWA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL, June 2017
(from left to right): Richard Chait, Esq., Paul Anderson, Esq., and Fausto Gomez, Esq.
RITE law acknowledge and sincerely appreciate the tremendous efforts of FWA, FJA, and their respective lobbying teams for their relentless work during a lengthy and crucial 2017 Legislative session. RITE law are staunch supporters of the FWA and FJA lobbying efforts and urge others to do the same. To donate to the collective efforts to ensure adequate benefits for injured workers, please visit http://floridaworkers.org/legislative/.
RITE law encourages injured motorists to speak out on accountability for uninsured and underinsured motorists.
RITE law’s fighting spirit does not end with the injured workers. Along with FJA and FWA, they are supportive of a law that would require motorists to carry a minimal amount of bodily injury liability protection. As it stands now, Florida is the only state in the country that requires only $10,000 of personal injury protection coverage and property damage liability coverage, but no bodily injury protection coverage – the coverage that is available to individuals injured as a result of another driver’s negligence or carelessness.
RITE law believe it’s way past time for Florida to require drivers to carry bodily injury liability insurance to protect other motorists and the at-fault drivers themselves from being sued personally. The measure to mandate bodily injury coverage actually passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Florida Senate. Proponents of the bills also see this additional coverage as a way to ultimately lower rates for all drivers which, in turn, should reduce the number of uninsured motorists and those who carry little to no coverage since ostensibly they could afford to purchase the insurance or better insurance that included the bodily injury coverage.
No doubt, there are stories to be heard from people who have suffered physical and financial harm from accidents involving motorists who carried bare-bones insurance coverage. These stories can frame the bill in human terms, and RITE law encourage people to share them on the Floridians for Responsible Roadways website.
“We hope people will share their stories and make their voices heard,” says Zachary G. Tucker, Esq. “This is what grassroots advocacy is all about – and what stands the best chance of bringing about meaningful change in a somewhat flawed system that is not supporting accountability for all motorists on our roadways. There is simply nothing worse than having to tell a client and their family that there is nothing for them to recover from the person that caused them so much pain and suffering. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
RITE law encourage clients and all Floridians alike to personally reach out to their local state legislators to express their concerns and interests on these topics. In the same spirit, RITE law encourage their clients to contact their office with any and all questions regarding efforts to reform the laws in Florida. RITE law, P.A. can be reached by calling 904-500-7483 or via their website at www.rite4justice.com.