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September 15, 2013
Board to take up medical liens in personal injury cases

At its upcoming October 4 meeting, the Bar Board of Governors will be updated on a variety of Communications Committee projects and consider a tweaked rule on resolving medical liens in personal injury cases.

The Communications Committee is involved in a variety of issues including technology and increasing education about the legal system.

Chair Michelle Suskauer will report on what four subcommittees are doing.

Those subcommittees are looking at education, including through the Justice Teaching initiative, the Benchmarks program, and the speakers bureau; reviewing how technology can help Bar sections and committees; encouraging pro bono work, including through The Florida Bar Foundation’s “One” campaign; and looking at social media and communications technology for innovative ways to communicate with Bar members and the public.

The medical lien rule affects Bar Rule 4-1.5 on contingency fees and settling medical subrogations and liens from a personal injury case.

The change clarifies that the original lawyer, in line with a recent Supreme Court opinion, does not get any more money for handling lien resolutions under the original contingency fee contract, and also cannot split fees or receive any extra payment if lien resolutions are turned over to another attorney.

The board had earlier proposed an amendment allowing the hiring of attorneys to handle medical and other liens under a reverse contingency fee with the consent of the client.

The Supreme Court rejected that amendment and said it was the responsibility of the contingency lawyer, as part of the original contingency contract, to resolve those liens. The board’s new proposal allows for turning the liens over to another attorney in extraordinary cases, under the argument the client would be better off by having the liens resolved by an attorney concentrating in that area.

[Revised: 07-16-2014]