A case in Alabama will have implications for the collection of attorney’s fees. The Alabama Court of Appeals is reconsidering a July decision in which they determined that a claimant’s attorney could not collect a fee for both the settlement of a workers’ comp claim and a third party civil action arising from the same injury. The case, Barney v. Bell, was reheard last week. The specific fee issue at hand is the fact that Barney’s attorneys collected both attorneys fees associated with the comp claim plus a 50% fee for a settlement with a third-party tortfeasor. In the court’s initial ruling in favor of Barney’s legal malpractice action, they cited Alabama law which caps attorney’s fees at 15% of compensation “awarded or paid.” The court reasoned that this indicates that once a third party recovery is paid, it must be credited against workers’ comp benefits awarded before attorney’s fees are assessed.
Read further analysis of the case from WorkCompCentral (paid content) here.
Read the July decision here.