Deciding to dive into an issue that has long been a point of contention between trial attorneys and business owners, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case of imposing unrealistic limits on attorney's fees in judgments of insurance claims for a worker's injuries.
The announcement comes from the case of Mr. Marvin Castellanos, who was injured in an altercation at his workplace in 2009. Mr. Castellanos and his attorneys have asked the Florida Supreme Court to look at the constitutionality of the law that limited their fees for work done on behalf of their client. According to court documents, Castellanos' attorney's fees were capped at just $164.54 for the 107.2 hours of work they performed. In October of last year, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeals upheld the decision on the fee award, but also requested that Florida's Supreme Court revisit the issue.
“Florida Statute 440.34(1) puts limits on the percentage of the amount an attorney can claim as fees from the benefits awarded in a workers' compensation insurance claim”, says Fort Myers attorney Mike Noone. “Obviously, the law capping those limits needs to be amended – $164.54 for 107 hours of work is simply not realistic, and anyone can plainly see that”.
The Appeals Court said in their decision that “we do not disagree with the learned judge of compensation claims that the statute required this result, and are ourselves bound by precedent to uphold the award, however inadequate it may be as a practical matter”. But despite affirming the decision, the appeals court also certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court of whether the award is adequate and consistent with provisions of the state's constitution that protect access to the courts and due process.
“The attorneys at Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone fully understand the statute's intent to limit unwarranted and exorbitant fees being collected in workers' compensation claims”, noted Noone. “But it's clear to see that in a lot of cases, the way the statute is now written places unreasonable and arbitrary caps on adequate and lawful compensation for an attorney who puts in long hours in their efforts to help their client receive fair compensation for their work-related injuries”.
As you can imagine, the main focus here is the willingness with which attorneys agree to help consumers with their workers compensation claims. Many attorneys are reluctant to even take these types of cases for fear they won't be rightfully compensated for their efforts to help their clients.
Count on the Goldberg Law Firm to keep you informed on the pending Supreme Court decision. If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury while on the job or while performing a work-related task, we suggest you give us a call to review your situation. It costs nothing for us to meet with you, and we can provide the guidance and trusted advice you need to help you receive the financial compensation you deserve.