Florida Supreme Court Rules “Reasonable Fee” Unreasonable
Workers’ compensation law has become increasingly complicated since it was enacted in 1941. Employers and their insurance providers are denying more and more claims which forces injured workers to seek legal representation. The issue in Florida is that the 2009 “reasonable attorney’s fee” amendment to the Florida workers’ compensation law has put many injured employees and their attorneys in trouble.
In the wake of a Florida court’s decision to award an injured workman benefits amounting to $820 of which $164 went to his attorney, the Florida Supreme Court revoked the amendment deeming the “reasonable fee” unreasonable. The employee’s lawyer spent over 100 hours working on the case and was rewarded with an amount that came out to $1.53 per hour.
The amendment was made in an attempt to limit how much of a settlement an attorney could keep for themselves. Instead, dozens of attorneys have been paid $8 or less an hour for dozens, even hundreds, of hours of work. The regulation itself says that an attorney’s fee is 20 percent of the first $5,000 of the settlement, 15 percent of the next $5,000 and 10 percent of the remaining amount. The average attorney’s fee is $200 per hour, and in low settlements the representing lawyer is left severely under paid.
The court concluded that the “reasonable attorney’s fee” inhibited an injured employee’s right to competent legal representation. When an attorney lacks incentive to take on a workers’ compensation case, then the employer and insurance provider are more likely to succeed in court. This situation leaves the injured worker with fewer legal options.
The Law Offices of Colling Gilbert Wright agree with the court’s decision and are ready to represent any Florida workers injured on the job.
If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident and denied workers’ compensation, please call The Florida Firm in Orlando today at (407) 712-7300 to schedule your FREE consultation. We serve clients in Orlando and throughout all of Florida and nationwide.