For the second time this year, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that part of the state’s workers’ compensation system is unconstitutional.
This, however, came after the court declined to rule on a case that challenged the constitutionality of the entire system. In both cases it did take on, the court was careful to say that the fact some parts of the law were tossed didn’t render the rest of it invalid.
In Westphal v. St. Petersburg, the most recent decision, the court looked at the constitutionality of F.S. 440.15(2)(a), which abruptly ends disability benefits to injured workers 104 weeks after temporary total disability (or once one has reached maximum medical improvement, whichever comes first). This two-year cut-off, enacted in one of the Florida legislature’s many attempts to whittle away worker protections in the name of lower insurance costs, left some injured workers unable to work but not having reached their greatest possible medical improvement and thus not able to collect any benefits at all. This, the court ruled, is both unacceptable and unconstitutional. Continue reading