Miami-Dade Judge Says Florida’s Worker’s Compensation Law is Unconstitutional
This week Jorge Cueto, a Miami-Dade County Circuit Court judge declared that Florida Worker’s Compensation law is unconstitutional due to the numerous legislative changes that have dismantled the benefits injured workers were entitled to in 1968 when the law was first put in place making the Worker’s Compensation system the exclusive legal remedy for an injured worker. He found that the benefits in the Act have been so decimated over the years that it no longer provides a reasonable alternative to filing suit against an employer in civil court.
The judge found it very significant that in 1968 when Florida’s current workers’ compensation laws were first enacted the law provided full medical benefits and compensation for wage loss to injured workers due to the disability as a result of their work injury and that today’s law no longer provides either of these benefits. Florida’s current Worker’s Compensation law provides no compensation for wage loss and only provides a portion of the medical treatment necessary in order for injured workers too recover from their injuries with the injured worker responsible to pay for the remainder of his or her own medical treatment (something most injured worker’s are unable to do).
Judge Cueto cited a recent three-judge panel that determined “the system of redress does not comport with any notion of natural justice, and its result is repugnant to fundamental fairness because it relegates a severely injured worker to a legal twilight zone of economic and familial ruin.” I agree with this statement as I have seen firsthand how this unfair system affects an injured worker physically (due to substandard medical care), financially (due to limited or no financial benefits) and even emotionally (due to the stress it puts on Florida’s hard working citizens).
As a workers compensation attorney in Florida representing injury victims for nearly 20 years I applaud this brave decision made by Judge Cueto. It’s time the citizens of Florida stand up and demand meaningful change as over the past 30 plus years Florida’s elected representatives in the legislature have consistently looked out for special interests and big business all while taking away necessary financial and medical benefits from the people they were elected to represent. Let’s hope this decision stands and leads to more like it. Florida’s workers deserve it.