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North Carolina: Claimant’s Attorney Requests $37,537 Fee, Gets $3,000

April 10, 2015 (1 min read)

A North Carolina appellate court affirmed a decision of the state’s Industrial Commission awarding $3,000 in attorney fees to a claimant’s attorney, rather than the $37,537.50 the attorney had requested. Observing that the claimant’s husband had been killed in a vehicular accident while driving a truck for the employer, that the compensability of the fatal injuries had not been disputed by the employer, and that a short evidentiary hearing had been held only for the purposes of establishing the identity of the deceased employee’s dependent beneficiaries, the appellate court agreed with the Commission that the requested fee was unreasonable. Acknowledging that the attorney and the deceased employee’s surviving spouse had entered into a 25 percent contingency fee agreement, the court noted that the attorney’s fee application, which only generally cataloged 107.25 hours on the case and requested $350.00 per hour, contained entries that were not appropriate. For example, the attorney listed 6 hours of “sporadic research regarding fee agreements,” time that was not required to establish the claim. The appellate court added that the attorney had failed to appeal the Commission’s decision as to the reasonableness of attorney’s fees to the senior resident judge of the superior court in the county in which the cause of action arose or in which the claimant resides [N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97–90(c) (2013)]. The Court of Appeals was, therefore, without jurisdiction to consider the issue.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Payton v. Barnes Transp., 2015 N.C. App. LEXIS 244 (Apr. 7, 2015) [2015 N.C. App. LEXIS 244 (Apr. 7, 2015)]

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

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