Utah Department of Administrative Services Division of Administrative Rules

File No. 35092

This rule was published in the August 15, 2011, issue (Vol. 2011, No. 16) of the Utah State Bulletin.


Labor Commission, Adjudication

Section R602-2-4

Attorney Fees

Notice of Proposed Rule

(Amendment)

DAR File No.: 35092
Filed: 07/22/2011 08:51:54 AM

RULE ANALYSIS

Purpose of the rule or reason for the change:

The purpose of the proposed rule change is to increase the maximum attorneys' fees in workers' compensation cases, to match the increase in benefit amounts over the last four years.

Summary of the rule or change:

The amendment increases the amount of attorney fees by 12.123% to reflect benefit increases over the last four years.

State statutory or constitutional authorization for this rule:

  • Section 34A-1-301 et seq.
  • Section 63G-4-102 et seq.

Anticipated cost or savings to:

the state budget:

This amendment does not affect the state in its capacity as an employer nor does it increase the state's cost of administering the workers' compensation system, consequently no costs or savings to the state budget are anticipated.

local governments:

This amendment does not affect local governments in their capacity as employers, consequently no costs or savings to local government budgets are anticipated.

small businesses:

This amendment does not affect small businesses in their capacity as employers, consequently no costs or saving to small businesses are anticipated.

persons other than small businesses, businesses, or local governmental entities:

This increase of 12.123% above previous attorney fee limits is offset by a similar increase in weekly benefits that injured workers are now receiving.

Compliance costs for affected persons:

The only compliance costs are the higher attorneys' fees that injured workers may be required to pay. As noted, this increase is due to (and offset by) increase in benefits paid to injured workers over the last four years.

Comments by the department head on the fiscal impact the rule may have on businesses:

The attorneys' fees subject to this rule are paid by the injured worker, not the employer. The change should therefore have no fiscal impact on businesses.

Sherrie Hayashi, Commissioner

The full text of this rule may be inspected, during regular business hours, at the Division of Administrative Rules, or at:

Labor Commission
Adjudication
160 E 300 S
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84111-2316

Direct questions regarding this rule to:

  • Alan Hennebold at the above address, by phone at 801-530-6937, by FAX at 801-530-6390, or by Internet E-mail at ahennebold@utah.gov

Interested persons may present their views on this rule by submitting written comments to the address above no later than 5:00 p.m. on:

09/14/2011

This rule may become effective on:

09/21/2011

Authorized by:

Sherrie Hayashi, Commissioner

RULE TEXT

R602. Labor Commission, Adjudication.

R602-2. Adjudication of Workers' Compensation and Occupational Disease Claims.

R602-2-4. Attorney Fees.

A. Pursuant to Section 34A-1-309, the Commission adopts the following rule to regulate and fix reasonable fees for attorneys representing applicants in workers' compensation or occupational illness claims.

1. This rule applies to all fees awarded after [July 1, 2007]October 1, 2012.

2. Fees awarded prior to the effective date of this rule are determined according to the prior version of this rule in effect on the date of the award.

B. Upon written agreement, when an attorney's services are limited to consultation, document preparation, document review, or review of settlement proposals, the attorney may charge the applicant an hourly fee of not more than $125 for time actually spent in providing such services, up to a maximum of four hours.

1. Commission approval is not required for attorneys fees charged under this subsection B. It is the applicant's responsibility to pay attorneys fees permitted by this subsection B.

2. In all other cases involving payment of applicants' attorneys fees which are not covered by this subsection B., the entire amount of such attorneys fees are subject to subsection C. or D. of this rule.

C. Except for legal services compensated under subsection B. of this rule, all legal services provided to applicants shall be compensated on a contingent fee basis.

1. For purposes of this subsection C., the following definitions and limitations apply:

a. The term "benefits" includes only death or disability compensation and interest accrued thereon.

b. Benefits are "generated" when paid as a result of legal services rendered after Adjudication Form 152 Appointment of Counsel form is signed by the applicant. A copy of this form must be filed with the Commission by the applicant's attorney.

c. In no case shall an attorney collect fees calculated on more than the first 312 weeks of any and all combinations of workers' compensation benefits.

2. Fees and costs authorized by this subsection shall be deducted from the applicant's benefits and paid directly to the attorney on order of the Commission. A retainer in advance of a Commission approved fee is not allowed.

3. Attorney fees for benefits generated by the attorney's services shall be computed as follows:

a. For all legal services rendered through final Commission action, the fee shall be 25% of weekly benefits generated for the first $25,000, plus 20% of the weekly benefits generated in excess of $25,000 but not exceeding $50,000, plus 10% of the weekly benefits generated in excess of $50,000, to a maximum of $[15,250]17,125.

b. For legal services rendered in prosecuting or defending an appeal before the Utah Court of Appeals, an attorney's fee shall be awarded amounting to 30% of the benefits in dispute before the Court of Appeals. This amount shall be added to any attorney's fee awarded under subsection C.3.a. for benefits not in dispute before the Court of Appeals. The total amount of fees awarded under subsection C.3.a. and this subsection C.3.b. shall not exceed $[22,000]24,706;

c. For legal services rendered in prosecuting or defending an appeal before the Utah Supreme Court, an attorney's fee shall be awarded amounting to 35% of the benefits in dispute before the Supreme Court. This amount shall be added to any attorney's fee awarded under subsection C.3.a. and subsection C.3.b. for benefits not in dispute before the Supreme Court. The total amount of fees awarded under subsection C.3.a, subsection C.3.b. and this subsection C.3.c shall not exceed $[27,000]30,321.

D. The following expenses, fees and costs shall be presumed to be reasonable and necessary and therefore reimbursable in a workers compensation claim:

1. Medical records and opinion costs;

2. Deposition transcription costs;

3. Vocational and Medical Expert Witness fees;

4. Hearing transcription costs;

5. Appellate filing fees; and

6. Appellate briefing expenses.

F. Other reasonable expenses, fees and costs may be awarded as reimbursable as the Commission may in its discretion decides in a particular workers compensation claim.

E. In "medical only" cases in which awards of attorneys' fees are authorized by Subsection 34A-1-309(4), the amount of such fees and costs shall be computed according to the provisions of subsection C and D.

 

KEY: workers' compensation, administrative procedures, hearings, settlements

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment: [June 22, ]2011

Notice of Continuation: August 15, 2007

Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted Law: 34A-1-301 et seq.; 63G-4-102 et seq.

 


Additional Information

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For questions regarding the content or application of this rule, please contact Alan Hennebold at the above address, by phone at 801-530-6937, by FAX at 801-530-6390, or by Internet E-mail at ahennebold@utah.gov.