On Thursday, December 17, the New Jersey Assembly passed A3403, which would award more money to workers compensation attorneys at the expense of their injured clients. NJCJI voiced strong opposition to this legislation, which will now head to Gov. Christie’s desk.
New Jersey’s existing workers comp law encourages employers to make prompt, good faith settlement offers to injured employees. If an employee decides to hire an attorney to sue the employer for additional compensation, the law states that the employee’s attorney is to be awarded fees based only on the portion of the award in excess of what was originally offered by the employer.
A3403, and its Senate companion S374, would instead base attorney fees on the full amount of the employee’s workers comp award, regardless of how much, if any, additional money the attorney was able to get their client. Attorney fees are deducted from the injured worker’s award, so the extra money going to attorneys under this bill is coming directly out of their injured client’s pockets! This is unconscionable.
NJCJI will be asking Gov. Christie to veto this legislation, which passed the Assembly by a vote of 48-12-7, and passed the Senate last June.