Board’s new attorney fee rules go into effect on November 1.

vaniman-megan-colorThe Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board passed revised attorney fee rules on October 13, 2016. The most significant changes involve increased attorney fees for disputed claims settlements and claims disposition agreements.

  • The Board increased attorney fees on Disputed Claim Settlements and Claims Disposition Agreements. Previously attorneys were awarded 25% of the first $17,500 of the settlement process plus 10% of any amount of proceeds in excess. The Board revised the rules to allow 25% of the first $50,000 of the settlement proceeds plus 10% of any amount of proceeds in excess of $50,000.
  • The Board also increased the amount of attorney fees received in PPD and PTD cases. Previously awards were limited to 25% of increased compensation not to exceed $6,000 in PPD cases. The Board removed the $6,000 cap. On PTD cases, previously, attorney fees were 25% the increased PTD award not to exceed $16,300. The Board increased the cap to $30,000.
  • The Board also changed attorney fees awarded in Own Motion cases. Previously, attorneys were awarded 25% of increased compensation in temporary disability cases, not to exceed $1,500. The Board removed the cap.
  • The Board also shortened the time attorney fees must be paid. Assessed fees now must be paid within 14 days of the date the order authorizing fees become final.

The Board also made changes to the factors an administrative law judge must consider when determining a reasonable attorney fee. Significantly, administrative law judges must now consider the time devoted to the case for legal services. The “for legal services” language is intended to compensate attorneys for paralegal work but not secretarial, administrative, or overhead costs.

Please note the new rules go into effect on November 1, 2016. If you have settlement documents that are submitted prior to November 1 the old rules still apply. Please have claimant’s attorneys provide a new retainer outlining the new payment requirements after November 1. If you have any questions regarding these rule changes please contact me at mvaniman@sbhlegal.com