Florida Workers Compensation Law Invalidated in Injured Firefighter’s Case
Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 26, 2013 – A Florida appeals court has declared part of the state’s workers compensation system unconstitutional.
The case involved an injured firefighter’s battle for disability benefits. The 1st District Court of Appeal invalidated a law that set a limit of two years on temporary disability benefits. Under that law, St. Petersburg Fire Department employee Bradley Westphal saw his disability payments cut off in 2011. Although unable to return to work, he was not eligible for permanent disability payments because he did not meet the criteria.
Zephyrhills personal injury attorney Robert Alston, who is not involved in the case, commented, “In some cases, an injured worker might not qualify for total permanent disability benefits, but might need more than two years of temporary benefits. While there are valid reasons for lawmakers to want to cut workers compensation insurance costs, those needs must be balanced against the needs of the injured to be made whole.”
Judge Brad Thomas wrote that limiting temporary benefits to two years was inadequate in situations such as Westphal’s, saying there was “no public necessity” for such a limitation and calling the system “fundamentally unjust.”
While on duty in late 2009, Westphal sustained serious injury to his leg and back and later required surgery on his spine. He received total disability benefits for the maximum temporary period of two years. He was not determined to have reached “maximum medical improvement,” a key requirement for qualifying for permanent benefits. His payments ceased in December 2011.
In November 2012, St. Petersburg agreed to qualify Westphal for permanent disability retroactive to September 2012, leaving a gap of nine months for which he would receive no compensation.
Florida legislators enacted the two-year limit on temporary benefits in 1993. The recent court ruling returns the limit to five years, the same as before the 1993 law.
State attorneys argued during court proceedings that lawmakers had approved the limits in order to cut costs for businesses struggling to pay for workers compensation insurance.
But the court found that the limits denied Westphal’s constitutional rights. The ruling established that although workers compensation is intended to reduce civil suits, it must protect injured workers’ legal rights.
Robert Alston is a partner in the firm of Alston & Baker, P. A. To contact a Zephyrhills Social Security lawyer, Zephyrhills accident attorney, or Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, visit http://www.alstonbakerlaw.com.
Alston & Baker, P.A.
5518 Seventh Street
Zephyrhills, Florida 33542
Alston & Baker, an Affiliation of Professional Associations:
The Law Office of Robert C.Alston, Esq., P.A. and
The Law Office of Marcie L. Baker, Esq., P.A.
- Movement to Open Adoption Records Boosted in Ohio
A movement to open adoption records that began in the 1990s recently got a major boost. On December 19, 2013, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill that is set to open adoption records for hundreds of thousands of adopted Ohioans. The law gives the birth parents of adopted children one year to file a [...]
- Social Security Administration to Implement Major Changes to Disability Insurance
The beneficiary rolls of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program are increasing rapidly, as is public and legislative scrutiny over the process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is making major changes. A recent article on the Wall Street Journal’s blog outlines six changes currently underway for the SSDI. Occupations: When considering an applicant for [...]
- Why Are Baby Boomer Divorces Surging As Overall Divorce Rates Decline?
There is good news and bad news in the world of marriage and divorce. The good news: the divorce rate in the U.S. has fallen to just above 40 percent after years of a 50 percent plateau. The bad: that overall decline has taken place in spite of a huge surge in divorces among baby [...]
See other news sources publishing this article. BETA | Tags: Zephyrhills accident attorney, Zephyrhills accident lawyer, Zephyrhills divorce attorney, Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, Zephyrhills personal injury attorney, Zephyrhills personal injury lawyer, Zephyrhills social security attorney, Zephyrhills social security lawyer