North Carolina: Attorney’s Fees in 3rd Party Actions Limited to One-Third of Injured Employee’s Recovery

North Carolina: Attorney’s Fees in 3rd Party Actions Limited to One-Third of Injured Employee’s Recovery

While the North Carolina Industrial Commission does not have jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of attorney’s fees in third-party negligence cases involving the rights of an injured worker vis-à-vis the subrogation interests of the employer or carrier, those fees are, nevertheless, limited to one-third of the employee’s share, held the Court of Appeals of North Carolina recently.  Acknowledging that N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-90 governed the Commission's approval of fees, that subsection (c) of the statute provides that the Commission shall determine the reasonableness of agreements for attorneys' fees under the Workers' Compensation Act and determine a reasonable fee if such an agreement is found to be unreasonable, and yet, that the same subdivision provided that "the Commission shall in no event have any jurisdiction over any attorneys' fees in any third-party action," the appellate court held that the last clause referred to “reasonableness.”   Construing N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-10.2(f)(1)(b), the court indicated the attorney fee taken from the employee’s share may not exceed one-third of the amount recovered; the fee was not subject to the reasonableness requirement of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-90(c).

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Tinsley v. City of Charlotte, 2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 820 (Aug. 6, 2013) [2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 820 (Aug. 6, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 117.02, 133.03 [117.02, 133.03]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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