Miami-Dade Judge Says Workers’ Comp Act is “Unconstitutional”

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Miami-Dade Judge Says Workers’ Comp Act is “Unconstitutional”

A Miami-Dade judge deemed The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act unconstitutional because it doesn’t provide suitable benefits for injured workers. In 2012, a Miami-Dade County employee tripped over boxes left on the floor. The injury resulted in shoulder replacement surgery, and the woman eventually retired because of chronic pain associated with her accident.

The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act only allows employees to seek compensation for injuries through workers’ compensation insurance. Extreme cases, such as intentional harm by the employer, may permit a lawsuit. But the exclusive remedy keeps some workers from getting the benefits that they deserve.

Last week, 11th Circuit Court Judge Jorge E. Cueto ruled that the act was “facially unconstitutional as long as it contains Section 440.11 as an exclusive replacement remedy.” The remedy, Judge Cueto said, “is no longer an adequate exclusive replacement remedy in place of common tort law.”

According to the ruling, the act was a viable workers’ compensation solution four decades ago. Today, it isn’t a realistic substitute for civil court. In fact, Judge Cueto’s ruling called the act “the most intrusive way to compensate citizens for injuries on the job by taking away access and removing the inviolate right to trial by jury.” In addition to labeling the act unconstitutional, the ruling said that workers’ comp should include permanent partial disability benefits.

This case isn’t the only one to challenge Florida’s workers’ comp act, but one state relations executive in Florida said that “there’s a good chance someone will appeal it.”