Rates for workers' compensation insurance are being rolled back to January levels, rescinding a recent 6.4 percent increase, under an order issued today by Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.
McCarty said the rollback was a direct result of legislation signed by Gov. Charlie Crist that restores the cap on attorney fees in workers' comp cases.
In October, the Florida Supreme Court eliminated statutory caps on workers' comp attorney fees, which were part of the state's wide-ranging overhaul of workers' comp system in 2003. To counter that ruling, the Legislature this spring passed a law establishing the cap and dictating that attorneys would continued to be paid based on a fee schedule of benefits secured. Hourly fees are not allowed.
Advocates of workers comp victims have objected to the new law, saying it gives attorneys less incentive to take on workers' comp cases, leaving many victims with no financial recourse.
But others applauded a cut in insurance rates.
"As Florida's employers continue to weather economic doldrums they welcome any good news and this certainly is nice shot of it," said Bob Lotane, spokesman for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Florida.
McCarty's office said the rate decrease will save Florida employers about $172 million in insurance costs.