I am seeing more and more claimants ask for advances on a PFB. However, even though its on a PFB, the JCC’s have ruled an advance is NOT a benefit, it’s a loan against future benefits. Therefore, even if you agree to provide it after 30 days after the PFB, you do not owe an attorney’s fee on an advance. I have personally won this issue at trial.
If the claimant files a separate motion for an advance, the JCC will set an evidentiary hearing. As we have all seen, in most cases the claimant will be awarded an advance, but maybe not the full $2,000 typically requested (they can seek up to $7,500, but any advance of $2,000 or less we can’t argue we wont be paid back. Over $2k we can.) At this hearing the claimant has to produce a financial affidavit and all of their bills to prove they need the money, loosely due to the accident and that they need $2,000.
Taking it to a hearing is usually not a good use of defense dollars, its usually better to try and resolve for a lesser amount or even better, ask for a settlement demand.
A request for an advance is a great opportunity to explore settlement. Often, a good initial response is we won’t agree to an advance in general, but if we can come to a settlement agreement we will agree to an advance out of the settlement.
Remember, the claimant’s attorney doesn’t get paid to go to an advance evidentiary hearing…but they do as part of a settlement.
Morgan Indek | Partner