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Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett | Legal Blog

May  24,  2016
By Andrew D. Spence

The Florida Supreme Court recently made a decision concerning a problem that has plagued the injured workers’ ability to obtain all benefits owed under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, under Florida Statutes 440.01-440.60. This decision, as reported by attorney Andrew Spence, affects nearly all injured workers’ in the State of Florida, encouraging pursuit of benefits even when the value of the benefit at issue is minuscule. To do so, Florida’s Supreme Court struck down the irrebuttable fee schedule in Florida Statute 440.34. 

In 2009, the legislature amended the laws governing attorney’s fees in workers’ compensation cases, eliminating a single word, “reasonable,” when determining the attorney’s fee when successfully obtaining benefits for injured workers. For example, post 2009, if the injured worker was owed $100.00 for lost wages due to his or her work place injury, the Employee’s attorney would be entitled to an attorney’s fee of $20.00 if the benefit was successfully obtained, even if the issue litigated all the way through a trial, no matter the number of hours invested in the fight for the $100.00. In this example, if the Employee’s attorney invested 50 hours to prepare for and attend trial, the statutory rate of pay for the Employee’s attorney if successful would be $0.40 per hour. To add insult to injury, in a loser pay system, the Employee would owe the insurance company and/or Employer the cost of said trial if the Employee did not prevail at trial. So, you can see the obvious problem in weighing the risk versus the reward for successfully obtaining the $100.00. Accordingly, this problematic issue was examined by the Florida Supreme Court in Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Company, et al., case no. SC 13-2082 (2016).

In Castellanos, the Employee’s attorney successfully obtained benefits for his client, defeating numerous defenses raised by the insurance company and Employer, and the attorney’s fee amounted to $1.53 per hour for the 107.2 hours performed to successfully obtain the benefits at issue. The Court found that the conclusive, irrebuttable statutory presumption regarding attorney’s fees in the 2009 statute was unconstitutional. In doing so, the Court reasoned that without the right to an attorney with a reasonable fee, the workers’ compensation law did not provide the intended self-executing delivery of benefits to injured workers. Additionally, Insurance companies were intrinsically encouraged to raise multiple defenses, causing injured workers difficulty hiring an attorney to pursue benefits on their behalf. 

Now, due to the decision in Castellanos, attorneys who successfully obtain benefits for an injured worker are again entitled to a reasonable attorney fee, encouraging attorneys to pursuit of benefits no matter what the value of the benefit is. Attorneys helping injured workers are no longer bound by the law that, at times, prevented pursuit of low value disputes. Further, insurance companies have more of an incentive to provide benefits when proper because the failure to do so results in a penalty of owing reasonable attorney’s fees, which at times far outweighs the benefits sought. We hope this change in the law will reduce the wrongful denial of benefit and insurance companies will be more likely provide benefits under the workers’ compensation laws.

Tags: carlson, meissner, hart, hayslett, castellanos, workers' compensation
Posted in Workers Compensation
Apr  21,  2016

Steadfast advocate for accident victims and clients facing criminal charges, Adam R. Bugg advances his career with premier legal team 

One of Tampa Bay’s foremost law firms, Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. expanded their firm’s wealth of knowledge by adding attorney Adam R. Bugg to the legal team. Bugg will focus on serving clients in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and surrounding counties in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense. His addition to the team offers an even stronger advantage to the firm's “team approach” strategy. 

Adam R. Bugg graduated Cum Laude, ranking in the top 9% of his class, from Stetson University College of Law. During his time at Stetson he received a coveted award, the Paul Barnard Award for Clinic Excellence. Before attending law school, Adam received a bachelor’s degree in business management from Samford University and was very involved on-campus. 

Following his undergraduate degree and immediately after graduation, Adam began serving the Largo community as a Police Officer. As a first responder, Adam was assigned the crisis intervention team, and additionally, mentored new recruits and managed other officers. Adam continued his career as an active duty police officer for five years before beginning law school. 

Adam succeeded in his scholastic pursuits while attending law school, consistently at the top of his class. He worked with both the Office of the Public Offender, Sixth Judicial Circuit and the Office of the State Attorney, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit as a certified legal intern and handled jury trials. Following graduation from Stetson’s College of Law, Adam passed the Florida Bar and worked for Phelps Dunbar LLP as an associate handling defense liability claims. Adam is looking forward to continuing his career with Carlson Meissner, a firm that built a notable reputation advocating for injured accident victims. 

Adam was raised in Pinellas County, and now resides in Tampa with his wife and two children. He spends his extra time coaching little league. “Attorney Bugg has consistently proven his commitment to strong and fair legal representation. His addition is paramount to our firms' continuing success and reputation for excellence,” explained partner J. Kevin Hayslett. “Adam’s dedication to serving others in the community is commendable.”


Posted in Announcements|Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|News and Media
Mar  11,  2016

Distracted Drivers Send U.S. Traffic Fatality Rates Up 14% in 2015

A recent study performed by the American Safety Council counted over 18,000 fatal car crashes from January to June of 2015. Experts say the majority of crashes were caused by distracted driving. The numbers show a 14% increase in crashes caused by distracted driving since the year 2014. Additional factors, including low gas prices have contributed to the increase in the number of drivers on the road. This startling statistic highlights the need for practiced injury attorneys to protect victim’s rights.

Research by the U.S Department of Transportation shows that at any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or operating electronic devices while driving. This number has held steady since 2010. WTSP 10 Tampa News spoke with local Countryside High School students and school resource officer, Officer Long. Officer Long, as well as students agreed that distractions quickly multiply in the car of a student driver. Young drivers are easily preoccupied by friends, social media, or “showing off” while driving noted two Countryside students.

With young people ages 15-24 accounting for 14% of the U.S. population, there are a large number of inexperienced and often distracted drivers populating the roads. For more than four decades, Tampa Bay’s foremost injury law firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A.has fervently advocated for victims of automobile, motorcycle, and truck accidents. Dedicated accident attorneys help families put the pieces back together following injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct.

Leading Clearwater injury attorney Edward D. Carlson states, “Our skilled group of personal injury attorneys work tirelessly as a team to fight on behalf of accident victims. Winning maximum compensation for damages, pain and suffering for every injured accident victim is always our priority. Our experience allows us to handle each case with tenacity and compassion, always focusing on obtaining the best possible results.”


Posted in Personal Injury|Community
Mar  01,  2016

What to do after a car accident 

There have been a number of accidents with critical injuries or death reported in Tampa Bay so far this year. In most cases, the victims of the car, motorcycle or truck accident are faced with vehicle damage, mounting medical bills and missed workdays because of another driver’s negligence. 

“It is disheartening to see victims of auto accidents overwhelmed by the physical and financial damage of the accident to fight for justice. Compensation from an auto accident may not be reached unless an experienced attorney is involved." Edward D. Carlson, co-founder of Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. said. “By providing a comfortable, trustworthy client-lawyer relationship, we deal with the stress of fighting for justice, so our clients can focus on recovery.” 

What to do if you've been in a car accident

After an accident, victims should be wise about getting contact information from the other driver and insurance company information. Gather contact information from any witnesses. Victims should document the scene by taking photographs and recount any physical damage to themselves or their property. If you or a passenger in your vehicle has received injuries, go to the emergency room or physician's office as soon as possible. Be mindful of injuries that may present several days or even weeks after the accident and be sure to get them checked by a physician as well. Following the accident, contact a knowledgeable accident attorney for legal guidance seeking monetary damages related to the crash. 

Since 1971, the Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. represent victims injured in motor vehicle accidents due to negligence — speeding, reckless driving, driving while under the influence, running a red light, talking or texting while driving, tailgating, changing lanes in an unsafe manner and failure to obey other traffic rules. If you have been involved in an accident as a result of someone else's negligence, contact our Clearwater office at 877-728-9653 

Posted in Personal Injury|Community
Feb  16,  2016

Trusted Tampa Bay Attorneys Celebrate 45 Years of Success

Beginning in 1971, the prominent Tampa bay firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. began living their motto, “Fighting for the injured, defending the accused”. Attorneys at the firm agree that the personal relationships they build with clients and their reputation as leaders in the community is the driving force behind a client's motivation to trust the Carlson Meissner team

The firm’s long history of success is founded upon four key philosophies - based on the word CARE. The “C” is this acronym stands for community commitment. The next letter represents accessibility, a promise of a timely response to clients. “R” stands for responsible, reasonable and reliable service while the final letter, “E”, stands for extensive experience and the team approach. 

Since 1971, the firm has grown to five locations across the Tampa Bay area to better meet the community’s needs. Locations include Tampa, Clearwater, Spring Hill, Bradenton, and New Port Richey. A team of 16 highly skilled attorneys comprises the Carlson Meissner legal team, giving clients access to more than a century of legal experience through the firm’s team approach. The attorneys have a proven record of success in several areas of practice, including:

The founders of the law offices of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. celebrate being named one of Florida’s Top Ranked Law Firms based on AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Lawyers Ratings, pursuant to the Wall Street Journal. Attorney Edward D. Carlson, co-founder of the firm, remarks, “ Our long-lasting success was not without hard work. Attorneys with our firm go the extra mile for the clients we serve and it is evident as each case unfolds.” The firm’s other co-founder, Paul A. Meissner, adds, “Our values have guided our practice and our skilled group of attorneys have allowed our firm to be unique in the creation of innovative legal strategies.” 


Posted in Announcements|Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|Community|News and Media|Workers Compensation|DUI|Family Law
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