The Florida Supreme Court recently overturned a law that limited that amount of money attorneys could earn from working on workers’ compensation cases. In Castellanos v. Next Door Company, the court ruled in favor of Mr. Castellanos, overturning the current law with this workers’ compensation ruling.
In Mr. Castellanos’ claim his attorney billed 107 hours on his workers’ comp case. Mr. Castellanos won the case but was awarded only $822.70. Due to current law, his attorney was only awarded $164.54 for 107 hours of work based on the guidelines under the law.
In fact, due to this some lawyers were beginning to turn down certain workers’ compensation cases because they would not receive adequate compensation.
Under the law passed in 2009, attorneys who successfully represent injured workers are paid 20 percent of the first $5,000 in benefits obtained and 15 percent of the next $5,000 in benefits.
The Workers’ Compensation Ruling
With this workers’ compensation ruling the majority opinion stated that the current law violates a workers due process. Judges stated the law prevents challenges to the “reasonableness” of legal fees in workers’ compensation cases. The 5-2 ruling was split down ideological lines.
Many state businesses have decried the decision saying that it will massively contribute to their costs. Others, including the Florida Justice Association, applaud the ruling hoping it will bring changes to the workers’ compensation system. The ability of an injured worker to obtain counsel to help in their defense is central to workers’ compensation working correctly.
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