Decision by Florida Supreme Court Regarding Attorney Fees In A Worker’s Comp Case
Workers’ compensation advocates are thrilled with the Supreme Court ruling in April regarding attorney’s fees in a workers’ comp case.
The law regarding attorney’s fees for a workers’ comp case was a sliding scale based on percentages. Regardless of the number of hours an attorney worked on a claim, the attorney received a maximum of 20% of the first $5,000 in benefits obtained on behalf of the injured worker and 15% of the next $5,000 in benefits. The case at hand challenges the Florida Legislature replacing the “reasonable” standard with the sliding scale of percentages.
The case at hand involves a Miami man who worked for Next Door Co. when he was injured. He suffered head, neck and shoulder injuries. The company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier fought the claim prompting the injured employee to retain a workers’ compensation attorney.
The insurance carrier fought the claim aggressively forcing the attorney to put in 107 hours on the workers’ comp case. Based on the outcome of the workers’ comp case, the attorney was awarded the equivalent of $1.53 cents per hour when the actual attorney fees totaled $36,817.50. The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision split along with the ideological split of the court in favor of the attorney.
Justice Barbara Pariente said the current law violates a worker’s right to due process under Florida’s Constitution and the United States Constitution. Justice Pariente said by enacting the law Florida’s legislature “eliminated any consideration of reasonableness” and that “the right of a claimant to obtain a reasonable prevailing party attorney’s fee has been central to the workers’ compensation law.”
Those in favor of the decision see it as a major victory for Florida’s workers and their attorneys. However, opponents to the decision, mostly business groups, say that it is a setback that will drive up the rate of workers’ compensation insurance and hurt the state’s economy and business growth. It is unknown what the legislature may do when it is back in session or how the Department of Insurance will react to the decision but for now, it is a definite win for workers throughout the state of Florida.
Do You Need Help With Your Workers’ Comp Case?
Workers’ compensation benefits should be automatic because injured employees are prevented from suing their employer except in extremely rare circumstances. Workers deserve to be compensated and to receive benefits when they are injured; however, this is not always the case. Insurance companies for employers often fight claims and deny valid claims. Our workers’ comp lawyers are here to help injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve by fighting even harder in a workers’ comp case.
If you have been injured at work, contact The Broderick Law Firm, P.L. by calling 1-800-333-3903 to schedule your free consultation. We represent individuals in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale & Miami, FL. Workplace injuries can turn your world upside down. We help ensure you receive the benefits and medical care you deserve to recover from a work-related injury.