People concerned with Wisconsin workers rights laws are keeping an eye on several workers compensation cases in the Florida supreme court.
In Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, the Florida court is asked to decide whether the state’s workers comp system is adequate in light of 2003 changes that eliminated permanent partial disability benefits. In December 2003, two months after workers comp changes took effect, Stahl injured his lower back while working as a nurse at Hialeah Hospital. His treating physician determined that he reached maximum medical improvement in October 2005 and assigned him a 7% disability rating. Because the workers comp law no longer provided him a real remedy, Stahl dismissed his petition before the Florida workers comp department, and filed a civil lawsuit against his employer, the hospital, alleging the hospital was negligent in causing his injury due to insufficient staffing and he challenged the constitutionality of Florida’s workers compensation system arguing it does not provide a remedy so his employer should not be protected by the exclusive remedy protection. His argument is the reduced disability benefits and medical coverage have effectively eviscerated the remedy under workers compensation and since the Florida constitution states every wrong requires a remedy, he should be able to sue his employer in civil court.
Two other workers comp cases, Bradley Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg et al. and Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Co. et al., are pending before the Florida supreme court. Both cases are challenging the constitutionality of the changed workers compensation law, with Westphal challenging based on the adequacy of the cap on temporary benefits and Castellanos arguing the attorney fee provision hurts an injured worker’s ability to obtain legal representation to pursue remedies.
In Wisconsin, there are lone wolf radicals in the Republican legislature that want to throw out our model workers compensation system. These corporate instruments have no facts to back up their false claims of rampant fraud. They are like the arsonist who sets a fire so he can “help” put it out. Their proposed workers compensation Opt Out legislation is designed to satisfy large, self-insured employers who view employees as interchangeable and discardable pieces of equipment. If passed, the Opt Out legislation would hurt not only employees, but also small businesses and the workers’ compensation insurance companies that for the most part have done a good job in Wisconsin.
At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin our attorneys and paralegals continue to fight for Wisconsin workers rights laws and injured workers, not only in each and every individual case, but also through legislative efforts with other concerned lawyers and firms. Believe in better.