Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said Thursday afternoon that regulators will work to determine the impact of a major Florida Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law limiting attorney's fees in workers-compensation insurance cases.
McCarty issued a statement that said the impact of the Thursday morning ruling is "unclear at this time" and that his office would evaluate the issue with the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which files rates for workers-compensation insurance companies.
Like business groups, however, McCarty indicated rates could increase.
"Limiting attorney's fees has been an important factor in reducing workers' compensation rates,'' McCarty said. "A legislative remedy will be required to prevent significant increases in rates and we look forward to working with all parties affected to bring about a sensible solution."
The Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling, said a 2009 law limiting fees violates due process-rights under the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. The ruling came in a Miami case where an attorney was awarded the equivalent of $1.53 an hour in successfully pursuing a claim for benefits for an injured worker.
The Florida Justice Association, which includes attorneys who represent injured workers, issued a statement Thursday afternoon praising the ruling.
"It is a great victory for working families, Florida's taxpayers, and fundamental fairness,'' the association statement said.