Florida Supreme Court Thwarts Attempt to Circumvent “Exclusive Remedy” Provision

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

Most states limit a worker’s remedies for work-related injuries to a workers’ compensation claim against the employer. Such "exclusive remedy" provisions codify a longstanding compromise whereby employers trade liability, regardless of fault, for protection from large tort awards, and employees surrender a cause of action in return for swift but limited financial benefits.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys and like-minded reformers seeking to challenge exclusive remedy provisions have made some progress in recent years. For instance, in August 2014, a judge in Miami-Dade County, Florida ruled that Florida’s workers’ compensation statutes were "unconstitutional" on their face because they no longer provided adequate benefits to injured workers in exchange for them giving up their constitutional rights to pursue civil litigation. In Padgett v. State of Florida, which is currently on appeal, the trial judge declared that statutory changes in Florida had eroded benefits for injured workers to the point that it was no longer a "grand bargain" for the injured workers.

In Morales v. Zenith Ins. Co., however, the Florida Supreme Court recently rejected an attempt to evade the exclusive remedy provisions of Florida’s workers’ compensation law, holding that the challenged provisions barred the estate of a worker killed on the job from collecting a $9.5 million wrongful death judgment against the deceased worker’s former…

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