Tony Francis of the Francis Law Firm is front and center against the controversial workers’ compensation bill, and he urges Governor Crist to veto it. There are some excellent reasons why.
On Friday, May 1, 2009, the Florida Legislature passed HB 903 dealing with workers’ compensation. Tony Francis of the Francis Law Firm, and the Florida Justice Association (FJA), strongly opposed this unfair legislation. A fight was tirelessly waged throughout the legislative session to get the controversial bill either amended or killed. Last minute compromises failed and now the bill is headed to the governor for his signature.
The bill essentially prevents Florida’s injured workers from finding an attorney willing to represent them in court. House Bill 903 creates an uneven playing field as injured workers are placed at a disadvantage because they are unable to pay their attorneys “reasonable compensation.” The bill gives insurance companies a decidedly unfair advantage by encouraging bad claims handling practices and eliminating penalties for wrongfully denying claims.
Asserts Tony Francis of the Orlando-based Francis Law Firm, “Deletion of the word ‘reasonable’ will mean more litigation contesting the ability to access the courts to obtain wrongfully denied benefits by injured workers and first responders.” Furthermore, without the obligation to pay a ‘reasonable fee,’ the insurance carrier “can keep on denying benefits and coerce injured workers into taking quick and unreasonable settlements,” Francis argues. It’s also a question of access. “Why is it considered okay to block the access to the courts for injured workers and first responders by capping attorney’s fees when workers’ compensation benefits are wrongfully denied?”
Francis places HB903 in the stark relief of a citizen perspective. “What’s the upshot of all this? It’s easy to see what will happen. Unable to recover the benefits they need for survival; injured workers will be left to the lottery-like applications required by social programs such as Medicaid to pay their bills. It’s pretty obvious that the real bills will end up being paid by taxpayers, as is too often the case.”
Wealthy insurance companies are the true beneficiaries of this ill-advised legislation. “The injured workers won’t be getting their day in court, no matter how egregious the workplace might have been to cause accidents that in at least some cases, could have been prevented,” Francis concludes.