As I have blogged here before, Florida’s workers’ compensation laws have become progressively less friendly to injured workers in direct proportion to the power gained by state Republican lawmakers. As their power has grown — today, they control the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature — the value of workers’ compensation benefits has declined.
One way in which the significant decline has taken hold is in the apportionment of benefits. Apportionment is the means by which employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies now limit the payment of medical and indemnity benefits to injured workers. In short, their obligation is discounted by the share an injured workers’ preexisting medical condition — the term is defined in Pearson v. Paradise Ford, 951 So.2d 12 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) and Pizza Hut v. Proctor, 955 So.2d 637 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) and made applicable to apportionment through Staffmark v. Merrell, 43 So. 3d 792 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010) — contributes to his or her current medical state. (Caveat: do not confuse this concept with the concept of major contributing cause contained in Florida Statute 440.09(1)(b). See these blogs to understand that concept: Florida’s Workers’ Compensation System’s Steady Decline Into the Abyss; and Florida Workers’ Compensation Law: Proving Medical Causation.) Put another way, only the disabilities and medical treatment associated with a compensable injury shall be payable
“Apportionment is an affirmative defense; thus, the E/C has the burden of proving each element of the defense.” See