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Senate Bill No 394

January 6, 2009                                                          Bulletin 2009-No. 01

 

State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., of Brownsville has pre-filed Senate Bill No. 394 relating to the court appointment of an attorney to represent a claimant in judicial proceedings initiated by an insurance carrier and providing for the court appointed claimant’s attorney’s fees.

  

Senate Bill 394 which would amend Texas Labor Code Section 410.309 to authorize a trial court judge to appoint an attorney at the request of the claimant to represent the claimant in a trial initiated by an insurance carrier.

 

The insurance carrier would be liable for the claimant’s attorney's reasonable and necessary fees in accordance with Texas Labor Code Section 408.221(c) on any issue on which the claimant prevails.  Under Bill 394 the claimant’s court appointed attorney cannot bill for more hours than the hours the carrier’s attorney bills.  However, there is no limit as to the hourly rate the claimant’s attorney can charge.

 

Senate Bill 394 would make the subsequent injury fund liable for the carrier’s attorney's reasonable and necessary fees in accordance with Texas Labor Code Section 408.221(c-1) on any issue on which the insurance carrier prevails.

 

Senate Bill 394 would also amend Texas Labor Code Section 408.221(b) & (i) and add a new Subsection (c-1). It appears new Subsection (c-1) would allow the court appointed claimant’s attorney to recover some of his attorney’s fees from the subsequent injury fund on any issue on which the insurance carrier prevails. 

 

The Bill would exempt an award of court appointed claimant’s attorney's fees from the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner’s rules.  

 

Senate Bill No. 394, if adopted, would take effect on September 1, 2009.

 

This Bill, if adopted, will deter insurance carriers from appealing Decisions and Orders of the Division of Workers’ Compensation. 

 

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