DOAH (Division of Administrative Hearings) , the entity that runs the Fla WC court system just put out their preliminary annual report on the statistics of the Mediation process. The full annual report on the entire system should be out in a month or so.
DOAH’s fiscal year runs July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019. The official number of overall new litigated claims is not available yet. This report tracks the amount of litigation within the claims themselves, PFB’s filed per claim.
Per DOAH, fiscal year 2018-2019 saw a 4% increase in PFB’s filed (see table page 6 of the report). Since the Castellanos decision in 2016 on hourly fees, litigation has increased drastically. In 2014-2015, the fiscal year before Castellanos, there were 60,021 PFB’s, compared to 73,146 in 2018-2019. That is a 22% increase in the number of PFB’s filed.
The piece we don’t have yet is the total number of new litigated claims for fiscal 2018-2019, that will be in the annual report due in a month or so. That will tell us the increase in litigation of claims (# of PFB’s filed in the same claim) compared to the number of newly litigated claims overall. But using last year’s annual report, here is what it looks like (see page 13 of the 2017-2018 annual report):
- There was a 2% increase in the number of new WC litigated claims after Castellanos, 29,780 in 2014-2015 to 30,470 in 2017-2018.
- There was a 17% increase in the number of PFB’s filed during that same time period, 60,021 in 2014-2015 compared to 70,295 in 2017-2018.
So it appears the significant increase is litigation per claim, not new claims being litigated. For any of you managing a litigation desk, I know that’s not a surprise. This is causing an increase in mediations, depositions, adjuster depositions and thus overall defense costs. In general, claims are not settling as quickly as they were a few years ago. So, what can we do?
- Make tempting settlement offers early when a PFB is filed.
- Know the claimant atty and the way they practice. If they tend to hang on to their claims and not settle, resolve the issues early before mediation to save costs.
- Our firm is making a concerted push to settle as early as possible to keep the costs down. Help us by getting settlement authority quickly.
Here is the 2018-2019 Mediation Statistics report.
Here is last year’s overall Annual Report, the new one is usually out in October/November:
When they put out the 2018-2019 numbers I will share my analysis.
Morgan Indek | Partner