|Judge David Langham|
"There is news coming in the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims 2014 Annual Report. One of the data points that sometimes stimulates conversations is the attorney fee volumes. The report will provide details of the attorney fees paid in Florida workers' compensation on both sides of the table in 2014.
"The defense fees will be featured in a future blog post. The 2014 OJCC analysis revealed a data flaw in defense fee reporting, which may cause significant discussions around the Florida marketplace in weeks to come. That is for another day however.
"The claimant fees in Florida are memorialized with each Motion for Approval of Attorneys' Fees and Child Support Allocation and Stipulation for Attorneys Fees, andOrder Awarding Attorney Fees entered throughout the state. These motions and orders are processed by the OJCC district staff and attorney fee and cost data is contemporaneously captured in the OJCC database.
"The process of capturing this data used to be far more paper-dependent. Figures were documented by district staff in periodic summaries that were mailed to Tallahassee and manually compiled. We have come a long way in the area of data collection.
"For the sake of historical perspective, each Annual Report provides data for several years. In 2002-03 about $210,660,738 was paid in attorney's fees for representing injured workers in Florida.
"Over the last 11 years, the payments to claimant's counsel have decreased with reasonable regularity. There was one year, 2003-04 when claimant fees increased some (2.21%), and there was one year, 2012-13, when the decrease was minimal (-.63%). But the overall trend has nonetheless been downward.
"In 2013-14, the total was $141,858,184. Claimant fees were paid in 34,518 instances last year. The average fee was $4,109.69; that is when the total of $141,858.184 is divided by 34,518, the result is $4,109.69.