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48-108. Employer's liability; claim for legal services or disbursements; lien; how established; payment.
No claim or agreement for legal services or disbursements in support of any demand made or suit brought under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act shall be an enforceable lien against the amounts to be paid as damages or compensation or be valid or binding in any other respect, unless the same be approved in writing by a judge of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court. After such approval, if notice in writing be given the defendant of such claim or agreement for legal services and disbursements, the same shall be a lien against any amount thereafter to be paid as damages or compensation. When the employee's compensation is payable by the employer in periodical installments, the compensation court shall fix, at the time of approval, the proportion of each installment to be paid on account of legal services and disbursements.
The Workers' Compensation Court has jurisdiction to determine a fee dispute arising out of an attorney's lien perfected pursuant to this section, regardless of whether the attorney seeking enforcement had previously been discharged. Foster v. BryanLGH Med. Ctr. East, 272 Neb. 918, 725 N.W.2d 839 (2007).
Attorney's fees allowed by court were ordered applied on agreement entered into under this section. Miller v. Schlereth, 152 Neb. 805, 42 N.W.2d 865 (1950).
Fees for plaintiff's attorneys allowed and taxed as costs are the property of the attorneys for whose benefit they are taxed. Approval by trial judge is a nonjudicial act and no notice thereof to claimant is required. Solomon v. A. W. Farney, Inc., 136 Neb. 338, 286 N.W. 254 (1939).
Notice to compensation claimant is not condition precedent to approval of attorney's fees by trial judge. Arner v. Sioux County, 116 Neb. 394, 217 N.W. 603 (1928).
This section limits amounts attorney may lawfully charge and is constitutional as proper exercise of police power. Agreement for fees that is not approved is not enforceable. Dysart v. Yeiser, 110 Neb. 65, 192 N.W. 953 (1923).
The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to determine whether a health care insurer or HMO is obligated to share in the cost of obtaining reimbursement when the injured worker successfully asserts a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court's regulation of attorney fees and disbursement matters is limited to those which arise between the injured worker and the attorney representing the injured worker. Kaiman v. Mercy Midlands Medical & Dental Plan, 1 Neb. App. 148, 491 N.W.2d 356 (1992).
Limiting fees of attorneys under Workmen's Compensation Act is not unconstitutional as depriving of liberty of contract without due process. Yeiser v. Dysart, 267 U.S. 540 (1925).