On June 9th, 2016, the Supreme Court in Florida made another ruling in the favor of workers’ rights in workers compensation cases. This is another landmark victory for the injured workers – just off the heels of the Supreme Court ruling in Castellanos v. Next Door Company, subjecting insurance carriers to attorney fees for failing provide legally owed benefits.
Bradley Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg (SC13-1930)
Supreme Court in Florida ruled the 104 week limitation on temporary total indemnity is an unconstitutional denial of access to courts in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, (Read the full opinion http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2016/sc13-1930.pdf).
The Court struck the statutory provision and re-enacted the version from 1994 providing a total of 260 weeks of eligibility for temporary total indemnity.
What does this mean for injured workers?
This issue was raised by injured workers who were unable to return to work after 104 weeks but had not yet reached maximum medical improvement. The possibility of medical improvement precluded these individuals from eligibility for permanent disability benefits on the basis they may still recovery. Thus, there was a “gap” in benefits and the injured worker was left without wages.
The re-enactment of the 1994 provision helps to close that gap in benefits and provides injured workers with the coverage they need.
About the Case
In December 2009, Bradley Westphal was a 53 year old firefighter in St. Petersburg, Florida when he was injured in the course of his duties. His injuries resulted in him having to go through numerous, lengthy medical treatments. At 104 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, he had not yet achieved “maximum medical improvement”. He was forced to file a petition for benefits but fell into the “statutory gap”. Because of his perseverance and determination, his case was eventually brought to the Florida Supreme Court where they made this landmark decision.
If you have been injured on the job, do not let the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster have all the leverage in deciding your medical treatment, wage benefits, and dictating your settlement offer. Contact our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Michles & Booth for a free consultation today.