How low dollar cases get squeezed out of the Michigan workers’ compensation system and what can be done to fix the problem.
We get several out-of-state telephone calls each week from individuals seeking advice about workers’ compensation. It is impossible to help these people beyond giving a referral as each state has its own workers’ compensation laws.
Michigan adopted its first workers’ compensation law in 1912 and it has served as a model for other states. Paying attention to how different jurisdictions resolve issues can provide insight into our own problems.
A recent case from Florida demonstrates this idea perfectly. The Miami Herald is reporting that 2009 legislative reforms governing attorney fees have been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The case involved an attorney who spent 107 hours working on a matter to only receive $164.54 in attorney fees. This amounted to $1.53 per hour.
Michigan has a similar fee schedule for its attorneys. The maximum attorney fee is 15% of the first $25,000.00 and 10% on the remainder of any settlement in a disputed case. Defense attorneys can charge whatever rate they choose and typically receive $115.00 per hour according to the Economics of Law Practice in Michigan.
Claimants with low dollar cases have a very difficult time finding legal representation. Many attorneys cannot justify the time and cost fighting for a small amount of benefits. Large corporations and insurance companies have attorneys on retainer.
Michigan does have a small claims procedure but it is inadequate. A possible solution would be to give magistrates the discretion to award reasonable attorney fees when the circumstances warrant. This would allow attorneys to take small dollar cases that normally would get overlooked.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by katerha.