A major point of contention for workers’ compensation is how much insurance companies charge for coverage. In Florida, that rate was set to increase by 14.5 percent on December 1, which would force businesses small and large to pay more for their employees’ coverage. A week before that was to come into effect, the hike was blocked by the Leon County circuit court because it violated Florida’s Sunshine Law.
The proposal for the rate increase stemmed from rulings by the Florida Supreme Court stating some of the laws dictating workers’ compensation in the state were unconstitutional. Specifically, it ruled that the strict limits on attorneys’ fees in such cases were illegal. From there, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which files files similar proposals throughout the nation for the insurance industry, took the opportunity to increase prices. It likely would have passed, if the NCCI had adhered to Florida’s Sunshine Law.
In her decision, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers stated that the NCCI and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) conducted secret meetings behind closed doors. Such meetings are illegal under the Sunshine Law; rather, these meetings should have been held in a public forum. That way, the general public could have had “meaningful participation in the ratemaking process.”
The NCCI plans to appeal the decision. This case is expected to only fuel the impending battle over the workers’ compensation insurance system when Florida legislators hold session next year. While groups like the NCCI say they are only looking out for the interests of their industry to make sure it stays viable, others point to the Council’s history of secret meetings and “outrageous” hike proposals to show it is just trying to bail out a corrupt insurance industry.
If your workers’ compensation claim was denied in South Carolina, we can help. Contact the attorneys at The Christmas Law Firm today for a free consultation and to learn more about how we fight for you.