قالب وردپرس درنا توس
Home / Insurance / Alaska High Court OK attorney fees in commission awards

Alaska High Court OK attorney fees in commission awards



The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday clarified that Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission awards can come with increased attorneys’ fees for plaintiffs who succeed in their appeals.

Judgment in Sandra J. Rusch and Brenda Dockter v. Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium and Alaska National Insurance Co. is a consolidated appellate decision based on the commission’s decision to “award far less in attorneys’ fees than the plaintiffs requested” in their cases arising from workplace injuries.

The court overturned an earlier finding that the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act does not permit the commission to augment awards of applicable attorneys̵

7; fees for injured workers, finding that “(b)efore the commission was created, we permitted enhanced attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation appeals.”

The Commission’s main objections to plaintiffs’ requests for increased fees were that we had not mandated increased fees in workers’ compensation appeals and that they were inconsistent with the legislative intent that “workers’ compensation claims should be resolved, in part, at a reasonable cost to the employer.”

The Commission also expressed concern that increased fees could discourage employers from appealing decisions before the Board, presumably because the fees awarded to an applicant who successfully defends those decisions may be higher. The commission was also concerned that raising fees would encourage appeals of “minor or even frivolous issues” because if the claimant were successful on the minor issues, the lawyer would “potentially receive a very large [fee] price”, according to the judgment book.

The state Supreme Court disagreed, writing that we “have previously held that the Legislature intended attorney’s fees in Commission appeals to be comparable to fees awarded under the appellate rules; thus, we believe that the Act permits expanded awards for work before the Commission as a way to account for the contingent nature of representing workers’ compensation claimants.”


Source link