Florida Appeals Court States Causation Standard Fixed at Time of Workplace Accident

In Broadspire v. Jones, a paper mill employee suffered orthopedic and psychological injuries after he was hurt in a 1981 workplace explosion. After receiving medical care for many years, the man eventually asked to collect attendant care payments for his recently retired wife. The man’s employer denied his request, based on its assertion that the man’s continuing need for treatment was not work-related. Additionally, the employer claimed the services provided by the man’s wife were gratuitous and not compensable.

Following a hearing on the matter, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) awarded the injured man 12 hours of attendant care paid to his wife each day under Section 440.13(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes. In response, the employer filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. In its appeal, the employer argued the JCC’s order was based on the wrong causation standard and was not supported by the record.

First, the appellate court examined whether the JCC committed error when he applied the causation standard that was in effect at the time the worker was injured. The First District stated substantive rights are typically fixed at the time of a workplace injury in Florida. Because of this, the court held the JCC correctly refused to apply the language included in the 1994 amendment to Section 440.09 of the Florida Statutes that could have precluded the injured man from recovering for what was a compensable injury at the time of his accident.

Next, the Court of Appeal examined whether the record supported the JCC’s attendant care award. After stating an attendant care award must be based on the applicable law in effect at the time of the request, the appellate court said the law had not changed significantly since the man’s 1981 injury. The court then said household duties such as those provided by the man’s wife are not generally compensable under Section 440.13(2)(b).

After that, the court stated the JCC failed to make a specific finding that any of the care provided by the injured man’s wife provided him with extraordinary services or merited an attendant care award. The court added that the JCC’s order also failed to address whether the man’s wife provided “on-call” assistance. Because of this, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal affirmed the JCC’s order with regard to causation but remanded the case for further findings of fact and conclusions of law over the JCC’s attendant care award.

If you were hurt at work in South Florida, you need a hardworking personal injury attorney on your side to advocate on your behalf. To discuss your rights with a skilled Miami workers’ compensation lawyer today, do not hesitate to call the caring advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Broadspire v. Jones, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

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