DOAH has put out their annual report on WC litigation (Fiscal year July 2016-June 2017), and it’s a nerdy treasure of statistics and reports. This is the first full year of data since the Castellanos decision (April 2016) removing the cap on claimant’s attorneys fees.
I’ve attached the link, it’s 230 pages so don’t print it unless you hate trees.
Here are some tidbits:
- The number of overall petitions (on new and existing cases) was up 4.6% to 70,365. However its still way down from 2002 when there was over 150,000.
- Medical authorization was the most common issue listed on PFB’s, followed by TPD.
- New cases were barely up, .01%, with 31,334 claims filed for the first time (that’s included in the 70,365 PFB’s filed overall).
- There were 25,983 settlements approved, down less than 1% from last year. And $11.4 million was recovered in child support from those settlements (if my math is right that’s an average of $438 per settlement).
- 18% of all PFB’s were resolved/dismissed before mediation, same as last year.
- Claimant atty fees were up 36%, but that is somewhat misleading because many claimant attorneys sat on their older fees until the law changed. So not all of the 36% increase was on fees that were earned in this past year, just that they were paid. In fact, fees from 51 different dates of accident years were paid in the last year, with the oldest being a fee paid on a 1943 date of accident (74 year old claim).
- Total claimant atty fees are still down 12% from 2002.
- Defense atty fees were only up 4.88%, which means as a whole we are doing a pretty good job at managing the increased litigation exposure (some better than others of course, including my firm…plug, plug)
So, what’s the take away from all of these numbers? The sky has not fallen after Castellanos. The number of PFB’s is up, but we are still settling these cases at roughly the same rate. We just have to stay vigilant in the defense of these claims, and keep improving our technical claims handling to avoid fees.
Here’s the link, 230 pages….
Morgan Indek | Partner