New Jersey lawmakers filed legislation that would raise the cap on attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation settlements and licensing fees to be awarded to psychologists, nurses and clinical social workers who provide compensatory treatment.
Assembly Bill 5659, introduced Tuesday, also known as the 21st Century Injured Workers’ Access to Justice Act, would revise the cap on contingency fees to prevailing parties in comp cases to 25% from the current 20%.
The measure would also increase from $600 to $1,000 the fees paid to doctors who provide medical reports in cases of permanent disability.
In a statement, bill sponsors said injured worker attorneys have gained additional duties due to changes in state and federal law, which has increased their costs of compensation cases and justifies the fee increase.
Lawmakers said the bill was inspired by an appeals court ruling, Garzon v. Morris County Golf Clubwhich concerned the basis for reasonable attorney fees in New Jersey Comp cases.
Plaintiff attorneys in New Jersey are compensated on a contingency fee basis, not by the hour.
However, the bill does not prevent corporate judges from considering hourly rates and hours spent when awarding fees.