The DWC has finally proposed changes to the fee structure that may continue to make it marginally palatable for a Texas Workers’ Compensation attorney to accept employment from an injured worker.
In the May 30, 2014 edition of the Texas Register, a resounding thud of an amendment to Rule 152.4 landed:
(2)legal assistant (not to include hours for general office staff)–$65
As commenter John Pringle WWW.PRINGLETEXASLAWYER.COM has pointed out:
it [$175 an hour] does not keep pace with the CPI inflation rate.
Pringle goes on to point out that the legal assistant rate also has not kept pace with inflation since 1991 when the rates were originally adopted.
In addition to adopting rates that show disdain for the Claimants’ bar and which, in the case of legal assistants, may actually increase the cost of legal services to injured workers, the Division also misrepresents to injured workers where such lawyers work.
Under the FAQ 9. “Do I need an attorney to assist me with my workers’ compensation claim?” (which indeed should be a FAQ in light of the sometime complexity of the Labor Code) the Division helpfully points out: “You are not required to have assistance from an attorney, however you do have the right to obtain the services of one at any time. The attorney may attend dispute resolution proceedings with you and may present your evidence and your side of the dispute.”
Fair enough. But then they mislead the injured worker with the next link:
“Read more about the right to hire an attorney.”
The link goes to OIEC which is not anything about lawyers.
One more (legitimate I think) complaint: The Texas Register lists: “Earliest possible date of adoption: June 29, 2014.” Here we are in November and the lawyers are still working under 1991 rates.