Tampa, Florida Work Injury Law Changes and Their Implications

Suffering injuries on the job can be one of the most disruptive experiences an employee can face. In addition to excruciating pain and medical expenses, injured workers may face lengthy periods of time when they are unable to perform their work duties, putting their income in jeopardy. By filing a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker can get their medical costs and part of their lost income covered. Furthermore, if someone who did not work for the injured employee’s company was at fault for the injury, they may be eligible to file a third-party personal injury claim.

However, in recent years, several legislative changes have been made to both workers’ comp and third-party claims laws. If you have suffered injuries at work and are planning to seek compensation, it is essential to know how these changes might affect your claim. Consulting an experienced attorney can help you understand the implications of work injury law changes.

Key Changes to Florida Workers’ Compensation in 2022

In 2022, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a 4.9% decrease in workers’ compensation insurance rates. This marked the seventh consecutive year of rate reductions, resulting in approximately $119 million in premium savings for employers compared to the previous year. The rate changes took effect on January 1, 2022, and applied to all coverages under Chapter 440, Florida Statutes.

This reduction in workers’ compensation rates was positive news for both employers and workers in Florida. For employers, it meant lower insurance costs and greater access to funding and financing options. Many business owners have been relieved to be able to focus their resources on growing their companies rather than dealing with rising premiums.

For injured workers, the rate decreases did not directly affect the benefits available to them. However, the cost savings for employers can contribute to a more financially stable business environment overall. This may make it easier for companies to fulfill their obligations to provide workers’ compensation benefits when injuries occur.

It is worth noting that while the 2022 rate reduction was positive news, it does not change the fundamental requirement for employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. With limited exceptions, Florida law mandates that businesses with employees must secure this coverage. Failure to do so can result in penalties and liabilities for the employer.

Reduced Penalties for First-Time Violators in 2023

In 2023, the Florida legislature made additional changes impacting workers’ compensation compliance for employers. A new provision was added, allowing for a potential 15% reduction in penalty assessments for employers receiving their first stop-work order. To be eligible, the employer must complete an online workers’ compensation coverage and compliance tutorial from the state within 21 days of being notified of the violation.

This tutorial option is only available for first-time offenders who have not previously been issued a stop-work order or penalty assessment. It is intended to provide education and support to promote future compliance.

The 2023 changes also included revisions to the audit periods used when an employer is found to be out of compliance with workers’ compensation requirements. For first-time violations, the audit period was reduced to 12 months preceding the stop-work order. However, the full two-year audit can still apply in cases where an employer has a prior violation or if they materially understated or concealed payroll information.

While these changes do offer some penalty relief for first-time offenders, employers must remember that workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory. The consequences of noncompliance can be severe, including stop-work orders, penalties, and potential criminal ramifications. Maintaining proper coverage is the best way for employers to protect their companies and employees.

Shortened Time Limit for Negligence Claims in 2023

In addition to the workers’ compensation changes, 2023 also saw a significant shift in Florida’s laws regarding negligence-based injury claims. The state reduced the statute of limitations for these claims from four years to two years.

This change means that an injured worker now has just two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against a third party whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident. Previously, the four-year time window provided more flexibility for plaintiffs to gather evidence and prepare their cases.

The shortened limitations period makes it more pressing than ever for injured workers to act quickly after an accident. Building a solid negligence case takes time, and waiting too long could mean losing the right to recover compensation entirely. Anyone who believes they may have a third-party claim should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to protect their rights and explore their options. 

Compensation Available in Workplace Injury Claims

Tampa, Florida Work Injury Law Changes and Their ImplicationsThe type of compensation available for a workplace injury in Florida depends on the type of claim you file.

For workers’ compensation claim, which does not rely on employer liability in workplace accidents, you may be entitled to money for:

  • All reasonable and necessary medical expenses
  • Partial wage replacement benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation

If filing a claim against a negligent third party, you may be able to recover compensation for losses such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Reduced earning capacity if your injuries require you to take a lower-paying job
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

A knowledgeable Florida workplace injury attorney can help you understand what type of claim you are eligible to file and how much it might be worth.

Contact an Experienced Florida Workplace Injury Attorney

The process of seeking compensation after a workplace injury can feel complex and overwhelming. If you have recently suffered an injury at work and need help navigating work injury claims after law changes, consider working with a knowledgeable Florida workers’ comp attorney.

The team at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers has nearly twenty years of experience helping injured individuals recover the compensation they deserve. We are thoroughly familiar with Florida’s legislative changes and are ready to provide legal advice on recent work injury laws. Call us today at (619) 233-5020 or contact us online for a free case evaluation to learn more about how we can help you get the compensation you need.

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