Workers Compensation Attorney Fees
Those who suffer injuries at work have to make a lot of important decisions quickly to help ensure their rights to compensation are protected. Too often, those who should pursue benefits through workers’ compensation avoid doing so because they are afraid or misinformed about attorney fees.
When it comes to workers’ comp attorney fees, it really isn’t a scary process. Workers’ compensation attorneys work on contingency, a process that will be explained in detail below. Need information specific to your situation? Contact us today for a free consultation.
What are the Costs Involved?
If you were injured at work and are thinking about hiring a workers’ compensation attorney, you may be concerned about how much the process will cost and whether or not you can afford it. Workers’ compensation cases are usually managed on a contingency fee basis. What that means is that if your case is won, your attorney will receive a certain percentage of the workers’ compensation settlement or benefits that you received. You do not pay anything until your case is complete and only if a successful case outcome is reached. If there is no settlement or award, your attorney should not charge you.
Is There a Cap?
Contingency fee arrangements eliminate the necessity for any large up-front payments, which allow even injured workers who have limited financial resources the opportunity to receive professional legal representation. In addition, this type of arrangement provides attorneys with a strong incentive for obtaining the highest possible benefits for the clients they represent.
State law tightly regulates attorneys’ fees for workers’ compensation cases. Each state institutes some kind of cap on how much an attorney is allowed to charge, frequently it is 15-20% of total benefits awarded. Also, before an attorney can collect legal fees, they must first have their fees approved by the California appeals board or presiding judge.
What Are The State Rules Regarding Workers’ Compensation Attorney’s Fees?
The regulations and laws on attorney’s fees vary from one state to the next. However, a majority of them account for how complex the case is and how much the benefits are when they determine the amount that an attorney is allowed to charge. Generally speaking, a case settled before an administrative hearing is held will warrant receiving a lower percentage fee compared to one that requires a circuit court trial or a hearing.
For California workers’ comp cases, the judge authorizes a 15%, 12% or 10% fee, according to how complex the case is. An attorney in Minnesota can charge a 25% fee on the initial $4,000 that is won from a workers’ compensation insurance company, and then 20% on the following $60,000. The total cap is $13,000 for each injury. The panel of judges or judge for a case in New York determines the amount of the fee. Usually it ranges from 10% up to 20%. In Missouri, workers’ compensation attorneys may charge up to 25% on the settlement or weekly benefits.
Many states prohibit attorneys from charging fees to obtain routine benefits, like lost wages or medical bills, that are not being disputed by an insurer or employer. No matter what state you live in, the workers’ compensation board or judge will need to approve the attorney’s fee before your lawyer is paid. In situations where an insurer or employer has acted egregiously or caused there to be unnecessary delay, then an attorney can request that they pay an additional penalty amount for covering your attorney’s fees. Although it is rare for an employer or insurance company to pay penalty amounts, they usually aren’t subject to the state law’s percentage caps.
Are Attorney’s Fees Negotiable?
It is always worth trying to negotiate legal fees, however your chances of succeeding are going to largely depend on how strong your case is. Remember that state laws usually prescribe the maximum amount that your attorney can charge. You can always ask an attorney to manage your case for a lesser amount than the maximum that is allowed by state law. You should negotiate before signing a fee agreement and representation agreement.
During the initial consultation, you should be provided with a clear explanation of all of the fees you are going to be charged by your attorney.