Florida Appeals Court Reverses Workers’ Compensation Award On Legal Fees Issue

DSCF6253m morguefile RoganJoshIn Edmond v. Avis Budget Group, Inc., a rental car company worker sought workers’ compensation benefits payments after he was hurt at work in Florida. According to the employee, he was rendered temporarily disabled as a result of the workplace accident. Following a workers’ compensation hearing, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) ordered the rental car business to pay the injured man more than $1,300 in temporary disability benefits and about $267.00 in legal fees. After that, the hurt worker filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

On appeal, the employee raised two constitutional claims and argued the JCC committed error by failing to issue an award for reasonable attorney’s fees for the work performed by his counsel in order to demonstrate the man’s entitlement to legal fees under Section 440.34 of the Florida Statutes. After filing his appeal, the court requested that the worker show cause why the court’s 2013 decision in another case was not controlling. Next, the employee admitted the case at issue controlled his two constitutional claims. The First District then turned to the man’s inadequate legal fees, or “fees on fees,” argument.

In response to the appellate proceedings, the rental car company disputed the employee’s entitlement to reasonable attorney’s fees as well as any compensation for the legal work performed in order to establish such an entitlement. Under Section 440.34, attorney’s fees may not be awarded unless they are approved by a JCC. In addition, such an award is subject to certain limitations enumerated in the law.

The Appeals Court stated that, although the JCC allowed the injured employee to supplement the record with additional information regarding his request for attorney’s fees that stemmed from his lawyer’s fee entitlement efforts, the judge did not expressly rule on the issue. Because of this, the appellate court stated it was impossible to discern whether the JCC considered the employee’s claim for “fees on fees” when he ordered the rental car company to pay a percentage of the disability award to the worker for the injured man’s legal expenses. Due to the JCC’s failure to issue a ruling on the issue, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the worker’s legal fees claim. The court also affirmed the judge’s order with regard to the employee’s two constitutional claims.

If you suffered harm due to a workplace accident in South Florida, you need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. To discuss your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits with a knowledgeable Miami personal injury lawyer today, do not hesitate to call the seasoned advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Edmond v. Avis Budget Group, Inc., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

More Blog Posts:

PIP Benefits Not Due When Insurer Lacked Notice in Florida Pedestrian Injury Case, October 23, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Appeals Court Rules Summary Judgment Was Not Merited in Florida Negligence Case, October 20, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Photo Credit: RoganJosh, MorgueFile

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