New Jersey lawmakers have introduced legislation that would increase attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases.
Assembly Bill 5353, filed Thursday, would raise attorney fees for prevailing parties to 25% from the previous cap of 20%.
The bill would also amend current law to state that the 25 percent would be paid for the payment of medical and temporary disability benefits and in cases involving orders approving any type of settlement.
Under the measure, judges would have discretion over the allocation of attorney fee payments between applicants and employers.
A sponsorship statement says the proposal comes in response to the unpublished ruling in Garzon v. Morris County Golf Clubwhich was reported on earlier in Business insurance.
In that case, a New Jersey appeals court overturned an attorney̵7;s fee award in a case involving an injured golf course worker. The court said that a compensation judge erred in approving a large fee amount because “reasonableness” and not the general 20% of the award should have been the guiding factor in determining the amount.
The bill’s statement says the bill aims to “encourage attorneys to zealously represent injured workers and their families in all cases compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and to create a disincentive for employers to deny or delay medical, temporary and permanent benefits without legal benefits. defense or cause.”
The bill says the 25% non-discretionary attorney fee takes into account the increased workload for applicant’s attorneys given recent changes in state and federal law.