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Florida Supreme Court Helps Injured Workers

Posted on October 25, 2008

The Florida Supreme Court ruled this week that a lawyer representing an injured worker is entitled to “reasonable” fees.

Ever since a controversial 2003 reform of the state’s workers’ compensation law, lawyer’s fees have been capped. That means most lawyers understandably shy away from workers’; comp cases. We at Farah & Farah do not.

The state Supreme Court ruled 5-0 in the case of Emma Murray vs. Mariner Health Care.

Murray, a nurse in her late 50s, was injured hoisting a patient in a nursing home. Her employer’s insurance carrier denied her claim. They said her condition was pre-existing.

Murray didn’t get rich here. Her Port Charlotte lawyer won $3,244 in back wages and medical costs and Mariner Health had to pay her court costs which amounted to $648 for 80 hours of work. That is about $8 an hour.

Because of the compensation cap imposed by the 2003 reform, Murray’s lawyer argued successfully that Mariner Health paid its lawyer $150 an hour which totaled $16,000. That means Murray faced an “unconstitutional” disadvantage.

Tough to argue against that reasoning. The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Murray argument, but did rule for Murray on the fact that “reasonable” attorney fees was undefined.

Expect a face-off in the next legislative session between the U.S. Chamber, representing the business community that wants to keep down workers’; comp insurance rates, and advocates for labor and citizens.

What’s at stake is a person’s ability to have a dignified recovery time period, and to receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages so they can get back on their feet after an accident.

Nobody is getting rich here. We at Farah & Farah will always take these cases to right a wrong that is done by denying workers’; compensation that they and their company have already paid for. Wouldn’;t you expect the same for yourself, your spouse, sister, brother, mother and father?

What is dignity worth? Priceless.