The court rejected the employer's argument on appeal that the proper calculation should have been based on the long-standing basis for counsel fee awards: the 450-week period of payments provided in N.J.S.A. 34:15-12(b) and portions of N.J.S.A. 34:15-13. N.J.S.A. 34:15-64 authorizes a judge of compensation to allow a prevailing party "a reasonable attorney fee, not exceeding [twenty percent] of the judgment." Although the court did not hold the use of the 450-week method traditionally used to calculate counsel fees was improper, it concluded the use of the table to calculate counsel fees was reasonable because it is designed to actuarially calculate the amount of time over which a surviving spouse can expect to receive benefits; in other words, it is based on the judgment amount calculated using the spouse's projected lifespan.
LILLIAN COLLAS VS. RARITAN RIVER GARAGE, INC. A-3103-17T4 Decided July 19, 2019
National Vital Statistics Report: US Life Tables, 2016 (National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 68, No. 4, May 7, 2019 )
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman email@example.com has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.