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Senate Panel Backs Workers’ Comp Changes

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would revise workers' compensation insurance laws, but key differences remain with the House.

Lawmakers are looking to make changes after regulators last year approved a 14.5 percent insurance rate increase for businesses. In addressing the issues, Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who is sponsoring the Senate bill (SB 1582), said the workers' compensation system is a "grand bargain" that should meet the needs of employers and injured workers.

A major difference between the House and Senate focuses on fees paid to attorneys who represent injured workers. The Florida Supreme Court last year struck down strict limits on attorney fees in workers' compensation cases — a move that contributed to the 14.5 percent rate increase.

Bradley's bill would allow attorneys to receive up to a maximum of $250 an hour, while the House is moving forward with a bill with a maximum of $150 an hour.

The House version (HB 7085), sponsored by Insurance & Banking Chairman Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, is ready to go to the full House.