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Friday, December 2, 2011

NJ Legislation Seeks To Increase Counsel Fees

Practicing workers' compensation law is difficult work, and not usually economically rewarding. Most lawyers who handle claimant's work have a passion to help people. In most, if not many cases, the time and effort that an attorney puts into the case usually just doesn't offset fee paid in the case.

Gone are the days when scores of cases were adjudicated on a daily basis in most jurisdictions. Many factors have caused the system to shift from high gear to what seems like reverse. The manufacturing workforce has dwindled, conditions have become safer, a good thing, and reforms to the system have thrown in hurtles that appear insurmountable to obtain benefits. The tightening of recovery procedures by collateral sources have changed the flow, from a tidal wave of dispositions, to a dribble through the funnel.

Fewer and fewer attorneys now participate in workers' compensation claims, even though other areas of the legal economy have gone into the tank. Those who are remaining are attempting to be even more selective in what representation they undertake. With limited assets to invest there needs to be a an economic certainty for recovery more than ever.

Legislation has been introduced in NJ to expand the recovery of counsel fees. The Senate Labor Committee will meet on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 6, First Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, New Jersey discuss a pending bill to increase the base for benefits. S2446 Concerns attorney fees for workers' compensation awards.

"This bill requires that in cases in which a workers’ compensation  petitioner has received compensation from an insurance company  prior to any judgment or award, the reasonable allowance for attorney fees will be based upon the sum of the amount of compensation already received by the petitioner, and the amount of the judgment or award in excess of the amount of compensation  already received by the petitioner. Currently, in cases in which a  petitioner has received compensation prior to a judgment or award, a reasonable attorney fee is based upon only that part of the judgment or award that is in excess of the amount of compensation already received by the petitioner."