The WCB is statutorily required to review claimant attorney fees every other year and it just held a public meeting to discuss the issue. Several concepts were put forward by the claimant’s attorneys including:
Creating an optional bifurcated proceeding to address attorney fees after the judge has ruled on the merits of the case;
Using a set multiplier to compensate attorneys for the contingent nature of their work;
Increasing the fees for recorded statements to $400/hour (now at $275) and/or allowing attorney’s to be paid for the time preparing for the worker’s statement/deposition, and;
Using defense fees/hours as a factor for the judge to consider in awarding a fee to claimant’s attorney.
You can find the proposals and written testimony regarding these concepts here.
The majority of discussion focused on closing the gap between what the defense spends on defending a case with what claimant’s attorneys are recovering for their efforts on those cases. Given the wide range of proposals and issues that need to be considered, the WCB referred these concepts to an advisory group to discuss and likely create rule proposals. There would be additional public testimony meetings on any proposed rules before they went into effect.
I testified at the meeting regarding some of the issues present in defense fees compared to claimant’s attorney fees. However, if you have questions, comments, or concerns on these proposals or other attorney fee related issues, please let me know so we can get your information submitted for consideration.
You can contact me by email () or by phone (503-595-2130).