Monday, October 20, 2014

Filing Volumes Increased for 2013-14

This time of year is always interesting. The annual report of the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims is due to the Legislature and Governor before December 1, 2014.

"Annual" has a unique connotation in the realm of Florida government. We use a fiscal year that begins each July first and runs through the next June thirtieth. We are working now in what I call "2015," though the new year is still two months away. A quirkier point is that our State work week runs from Friday through Thursday. I have always wondered if they do these things just to confuse me.

This year, the annual report will announce that electronic filings are up again, four percent above last year. We received 521,205 filings in 2013-14. That is a huge volume of inbound documentation. If each of those documents only saved the filing party one envelope and the minimum First Class postage, the savings would be about a quarter of a million dollars.

Keep in mind that a fair number of these filings were Petitions. Sending petitions requires either e-filing or certified mail. So the savings is much more significant. Certified mail is expensive. We are going to begin work in 2015 on adding employers to our database, so that the expense of certified mail of Petitions to employers can be reduced also. To date, we estimate that e-filing alone ("eJCC") has saved the marketplace about two million dollars, and the State about three million dollars.

With the addition of the electronic service to carriers about two years ago, we believe that e-service alone is saving the marketplace about one million dollars annually in postage.

I am proud of the fact that our outstanding IT team has developed, implemented and deployed all of this in house. To date, the OJCC has not spent a million dollars on this project. With overall savings of about five million dollars, on an investment of less than one million, we are proud of the eJCC brand and all it does for you.

None of these savings estimates account for the time and trouble that is saved, with you being able to sit at your workstation and generate documents that are converted, efiled and scratched off of the "to do" list without printers, folding, envelopes, postage meters and more.

In other filing news, Petition for Benefit (PFB) filings were up in 2013-14. That is the first time we have had an increase in PFB filings since the 2008-09 fiscal year. Remember that is around the time the 
Murray v. Mariner case was pending for Florida Supreme Court determination of the constitutionality of 440.34 attorneys fees. The Court did not address the constitutional issues in Murray, deciding the case on statutory construction grounds. The 2013-14 PFB filing increase is 2.2% over last fiscal year's total. That increase, 2.2%, is higher than the 2008-09 increase of 1.6%.

The Office of Judges of Compensation Claims also counts "new cases." The term “new cases filed” refers to the volume of PFBs filed, which represent the first PFB in the history of that particular accident by that particular injured worker. "New case" filings have consistently decreased since a peak of 56,869 in 2002-03. Even in 2008-09 when PFB filings increased slightly (1.6%) "new case" filings decreased. But, in 2013-14 "new case" filings increased 859 to 29,771, an increase of about 3%.

So volumes are up in terms of electronic filings generally, Petitions and new cases. Watch the OJCC website for publication of the 2014 annual report in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment