Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

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Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby newbie on Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:45 pm

I am posting this question on the “pro side”, because I believe only an attorney can answer this question. I am a California injured worker. I hope the pro’s on this side do not mind an injured worker asking this question, and I promise not to make a habit of posting on this side of the forum.

I have had two applicants’ attorneys, and I am currently on number three. I would like all of these attorneys to be compensated for the hard work they put into my case. I believe I left on good terms with the two I let go (at least I hope so). I would/have even refer other injured workers to them, as they are both good attorneys.

I am aware that at the end of my case the judge will split up the % between the three of them. I would like to know if there is a way I can up the % of PD payment that is deducted from my payments, so these attorneys’ can get what I believe they deserve? Instead of the 12% to 18% attorneys’ fees…can I ask the judge to up that to 30%... because it now has to be split up three ways? I have a complicated case, and believe my attorneys (past and present) deserve to be paid for their work. I am married and financially stable, so the decrease in PD would not affect me. I am feeling really guilty about letting attorney#2 go, and would like to know that he will be paid justly for his hard work.

So my question is…can I ask the judge to do this under the special circumstances of having a complicated case? I have not talked to my new attorney about this, because I want to see if it is even possible. I will not be signing a C&R. I plan on leaving my medical open.

If you are wondering why I let two attorneys go if they were so good…I had unrealistic expectations. I will not make that mistake with attorney#3. I feel grateful to have been represented by my former two attorneys, and hope there is a way for them to get the monetary payments they deserve.
I have tried to research this, and have not found anything that says this can or cannot be done.

Thank you,

Newbie

(but actually not so much of a newbie, as I am on attorney#3 lol)
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby stevepsca on Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:25 am

AA fees are awarded by the judge at the resolution of your claim. Whether that is be stipulation w/award, C&R, or Finding w/Award & Order doens't matter.
Depending on how the claim is resolved, the fees are commuted off the far end, or from the amount as a whole.

AA provide a statement...(or can) http://search.ca.gov/search?q=cache:Owa ... lient=xfix to substantiate the amount of fee requested.

Your multiple AA's know the process...and #'s 2 and 3 accepted your case with that knowledge.

You're a AA dream in that you have no objection to the fee schedule... but, let the judge handle this. That is what judges are there for...(one of those things anyway...)

You can find info here http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisg ... n=retrieve
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisg ... n=retrieve

BTW...I'm not an AA... and this really should be on the IW forum...Like davidd said...IW's...DO NOT post your questions here....
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby steve appell on Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:58 am

The answer to 18% is yes...... if it is deserved.
The answer to 30% is "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"

No judge is going to award 30% in attorney fees. Never has happened, and never will happen.
I suggest you simply cut them each checks out of your own pocket to make up any difference.
Problem solved !

PS: I'm no attorney either
Steve

appellandassociates.com
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Van Nuys, Ca 91401
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby newbie on Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:45 am

Thank you for your replies.

Unfortunately, my attorneys (past and present) will not do that, Steve Appeall. As I mentioned above...they are good attorneys, have ethics and follow the law. If it were that easy, I would do it. They will not accept a check from me.

If the applicant agrees to increase of payments to AA's, I do not understand why this cannot happen. Three attorneys have to split up 18%. :roll:

Thank you both, steve p and steve a for your replies.
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby steve appell on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:02 am

Actually .....it is that easy. Ask them each for a list of their favorite chairities and donate the difference. No ethical conflict there & problem solved once again !
Steve

appellandassociates.com
6311 Van Nuys Bl #480
Van Nuys, Ca 91401
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby newbie on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:57 am

Thank you steveappeal for your reply,

I will definitely take your advice about donating to their favorite charities on their behalf, under consideration…

If there are any other attorneys, that know of any other way that I can request increase of % paid to my past and present applicants attorneys, any advice would be appreciated.
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby stevepsca on Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:40 am

There is good reason your AA's are refusing to participate in your scheme (sorry... plan, wish whatever you want to describe this as...)
4906. (a) No charge, claim, or agreement for the legal services or
disbursements mentioned in subdivision (a) of Section 4903, or for
the expense mentioned in subdivision (b) of Section 4903, is
enforceable, valid, or binding in excess of a reasonable amount. The
appeals board may determine what constitutes a reasonable amount.
(b) No attorney or agent shall demand or accept any fee from an
employee or dependent of an employee for the purpose of representing
the employee or dependent of an employee in any proceeding of the
division, appeals board, or any appellate procedure related thereto
until the amount of the fee has been approved or set by the appeals
board.

(c) Any fee agreement shall be submitted to the appeals board for
approval within 10 days after the agreement is made.

(d) In establishing a reasonable attorney's fee, consideration
shall be given to the responsibility assumed by the attorney, the
care exercised in representing the applicant, the time involved, and
the results obtained.
(e) At the initial consultation, an attorney shall furnish the
employee a written disclosure form promulgated by the administrative
director which shall clearly and prominently describe the procedures
available to the injured employee or his or her dependents. The
disclosure form shall describe this section, the range of attorney's
fees customarily approved by the appeals board, and the attorney's
fees provisions of Section 4064 and the extent to which an employee
may receive compensation without incurring attorney's fees. The
disclosure form shall include the telephone number of the
administrative director together with the statement that the employee
may receive answers at that number to questions concerning
entitlement to compensation or the procedures to follow to receive
compensation. A copy of the disclosure form shall be signed by the
employee and the attorney and sent to the employer, or insurer or
third-party administrator, if either is known, by the attorney within
15 days of the employee's and attorney's execution thereof.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displ ... 900-4909.1

As I mentioned above...they are good attorneys, have ethics and follow the law. If it were that easy, I would do it. They will not accept a check from me.
Think about following their lead here. Those AA obviously wish to remain members of the bar, and retain the ability to represent their other clients/IW at the WCAB.
The laws require full disclosure in your claim...
5313. The appeals board or the workers' compensation judge shall,
within 30 days after the case is submitted, make and file findings
upon all facts involved in the controversy and an award, order, or
decision stating the determination as to the rights of the parties.
Together with the findings, decision, order or award there shall be
served upon all the parties to the proceedings a summary of the
evidence received and relied upon and the reasons or grounds upon
which the determination was made.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displ ... =5300-5318

§10775. Reasonable Attorney's Fee. http://www.dir.ca.gov/t8/10775.html
§10776. Approval of Attorney's Fee.
(a) No request for payment or demand for payment of a fee shall be made by any attorney for, or agent of, a worker or dependent of a worker until the fee has been approved or set by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.
(b) No attorney or agent shall accept any money from a worker or dependent of a worker for the purpose of representing the worker or dependent of a worker before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board or in any appellate procedure related thereto until the fee has been approved or set by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board or an appellate court.

(c) Any agreement between any attorney or agent and a worker or dependent of a worker for payment of a fee shall be submitted to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board for approval within ten (10) days after the agreement is made.
http://www.dir.ca.gov/t8/10776.html


You may be able to use this Title 8 CCR in reverse though...
]§10778. Request for Increase of Attorney's Fee.
All requests for an increase in attorney's fee shall be accompanied by proof of service on the applicant of written notice of the attorney's adverse interest and of the applicant's right to seek independent counsel. Failure to so notify the applicant may constitute grounds for dismissal of the request for increase in fee.

]§10779. Disbarred and Suspended Attorneys.
An attorney who has been disbarred or suspended by the Supreme Court for reasons other than nonpayment of State Bar fees, or who has been placed on involuntary inactive enrollment status by the State Bar, or who has resigned while disciplinary action is pending shall be deemed unfit to appear as a representative of any party before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board during the time that the attorney is precluded from practicing law in this state.

If the applicant agrees to increase of payments to AA's, I do not understand why this cannot happen. Three attorneys have to split up 18%
It's a matter of adequacy to the IW... that's why settlement agreements...Stipulations, and/or C&R's are reviewed. (there are those who feel a Finding w/Award & Order should be reviewed for adequacy as well... but at least there is the ability to appeal a F&A...)
I'm curious however... as you have realized your 'unreasonable expectations' with the first two AA's... why didn't you just return to one of those instead of retaining yet a Third AA...?
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby newbie on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:20 am

Stevepsca,

I do not have any type of "scheme" going on here, however I do have a wish to pay them what I believe they deserve, yes. If I had a scheme going on I would not be posting on a legal board asking attorneys advice if there is a legal way to do this. I assure you, I have only the best intentions by my questions on this board.

I would like to know if there is a legal way to up the % paid to my 3 applicant’s attorneys. I asked if there was a way to ask the judge to up the % to 30%, with a complicated case, that payment is now being split up by 3 attorneys.

I have tried to research this, however cannot find any case law that states a firm limit on attorneys fees.

Thank you for the information provided above.
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%?

Postby davidd on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:36 am

There is no set percentage of fee. "Tradition" is 12%, however I have seen cases where counsel was able to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances in an adequacy hearing and get as much as 40%. It is in the WCJ's discretion but the fee must nevertheless be approved by the WCJ.

My recommendation - get a hold of each of your attorneys. Tell them what you have said here - that you don't need the money and you wish to ensure each is adequately compensated. Tell them you are willing to testify in an adequacy hearing after all four of you have agreed on a percentage and a split, then complete the paperwork and have your present attorney file a DOR for an adequacy hearing.

The judge may or may not approve - but at least you will have a clear conscience of doing what you felt was the right thing.
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Re: Can applicants attorneys fees be increased beyond 18%? (Cali

Postby steve appell on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:42 am

A 40% fee on a PD award Davidd !@?
I stand corrected and humbled.
Steve

appellandassociates.com
6311 Van Nuys Bl #480
Van Nuys, Ca 91401
wcexaminer@aol.com


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