Florida: Divided 1st DCA Creates “Virtual” MMI Date for Those Suffering Lengthy Periods of TTD

In a split (8 to 3) decision, the full First District Court of Appeal of Florida recently withdrew its earlier panel opinion in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 3203 (Fla. 1st DCA Feb. 28, 2013), and receded from its previous en banc opinion in Matrix Employee Leasing, Inc. v. Hadley, 78 So. 3d 621 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011), holding that a worker who is totally disabled as a result of a workplace accident and remains totally disabled by the end of his or her eligibility for TTD benefits (104-weeks) is deemed to be at MMI by operation of law and is therefore eligible to assert a claim for PTD benefits. The majority added that this eliminates the possibility that disabled workers, like the claimant in this case, would fall into an indefinite gap in which they would not be entitled to apply for disability benefits. In light of its decision in the case, the majority found it unnecessary to consider the claimant's argument that the statute, as the court had previously construed it in Hadley, was unconstitutional as a denial of the right of access to the courts, and in spite further of the fact that in the earlier Westphal decision, the panel had ruled the statute unconstitutional.  If you’re confused, join the rest of us.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 15084 (Sept. 23, 2017) [2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 15084 (Sept. 23, 2017)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 80.03 [80.03]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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