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How Much Will A Workers Comp Attorney Really Cost You?

How Much Will A Workers Comp Attorney Really Cost You?

It’s a fact that injured workers recover greater compensation with an attorney than without one—but just how much is experienced legal representation going to cost you?

Before you hire a lawyer, it may be necessary determine if your claim is substantial enough to warrant one. For people with injuries that are temporary and minor, it’s probably not necessary.

However, if your injuries will cause you to be out of work for a lengthy period of time, a lawyer should be contacted. But how much will that attorney cost you? How do workers comp attorneys get paid, exactly?

On average, a workers compensation lawyer will charge between 15 and 25 percent. This may seem like a high percentage but having a lawyer represent you can possibly yield more benefits. These attorneys know how to process workers compensation claims more effectively than most people. Because workers compensation law is different in each state, you will want to hire an attorney in your state. We have workers compensation attorneys in Utah and workers compensation lawyers in Idaho.

The fees that you will be charged usually come out of the settlement, not your own pocket. Because of this, all employees who get injured at work, even those on a limited income, will be able to receive high quality legal representation.

Contingent Fees

This arrangement guarantees that your workers compensation lawyer will get paid out of your settlement winnings. If the lawyer loses, you will not owe any money to the lawyer for his or her work. However, there is a chance you might have to pay for filings fees, copy costs and other expenses.

Agency Approval

In many states, the workers compensation agency must first approve the fees that the lawyer intends to charge. After that has been done, the lawyer can then ask the judge for authorization at the completion of the case. Usually it is illegal for a lawyer to accept a fee without the agency’s approval.

Fees by State

The fee amount a lawyer can charge you is usually determined by state laws and regulations. If your attorney is working on a contingent basis, make sure to discuss who will be responsible for paying the various fees should the attorney lose the case.

Some examples of these laws include:

  • California – Based on how complicated the case is, a judge is allowed to approve a fee of 10, 12 or 15 percent.
  • Florida – The lawyer’s fees are set at 20 percent for the first $5,000 awarded, 15 percent for the next $5,000 and 5 to 10 percent of what is left. This last amount will be based on how much time and effort the lawyer had to put into the case.
  • New York – A workers compensation judge is responsible for setting the amount of money your attorney will receive if the case is won.
  • Texas – The attorney is paid by your employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier. This will be taken out of the monetary benefits you are awarded.

More often than not, it will be the judge’s responsibility to approve the lawyer’s requested fee. On average, the normal amount of money a lawyer will receive is between 15 and 25 percent. Most states will have a maximum amount the lawyer can ask for.

However, there are some states that have a high limit or do not set a limit at all. When discussing a fee with your lawyer, make sure it seems like a reasonable rate, comparable to what has been mentioned here.

Appropriate Fees

When determining if a lawyer’s fees are appropriate, a judge will usually take the following into consideration:

  • Time and effort your lawyer put in
  • Time restrictions on your case
  • Complexity of the case
  • Ending Results
  • Lawyer’s qualifications
  • Comparable rates charged by other attorneys

Assuming all of this seems reasonable to a judge, he or she will approve it.

Other Cost Factors

Another determining factor when it comes to a workers compensation lawyer’s rate is how far the case goes before a settlement is made. Cases can be settled before an administrative hearing occurs, after the hearing occurs, during trial and, if needed, a judge will make the final ruling.

If the workers compensation insurer doesn’t deny you routine benefits, such as lost wages or medical bills, a lawyer can’t charge you a fee for obtaining them, in most states.

In some instances, a lawyer can ask the judge to require the opposing side to pay additional fees if there is evidence of misconduct or wrongdoing. Also, they can be required to pay more fees if they refuse to pay benefits that were already awarded to you or they were the cause of unnecessary delays.

Related Expenses

As previously mentioned, there are fees that you may be required to pay if your lawyer loses. Some of the more common expenses include:

  • Filing fees. In many states, there is no fee to file a workers compensation case. Those states that do charge a fee, it is usually minimal. If appeals have to be made, that will also require filing fees which can cost several hundred dollars.
  • Additional medical bills. Physicians who conduct independent medical exams will require a fee.
  • Attorney’s travel expenses. These should be minimal since you are more than likely going to hire a lawyer from your general vicinity.
  • Copying and postage costs. Although usually minimal, depending on the amount of documents in your case, these can add up.
  • Fees for copies of medical records and subpoenas. To receive copies of medical records, sometimes there are fees involved. If the lawyer needs to subpoena the health records, that will cost more money.
  • Cost of depositions. Your attorney may require depositions from certain people, such as doctors. Usually, doctors are entitled to a fee based on the amount of time they spent preparing for the case, as well as the amount of time it takes for them to provide testimony.

In actuality, you will probably have to pay these fees even if your lawyer wins. Traditionally, layers or law firms will cover these costs upfront and have you pay it back later. The expenses normally come out of your settlement.

Free Consultations

Davis Sanchez offers free consultations to all potential clients. You will be able to discuss your case and whether or not you would benefit from a lawyer representing you.

During this time is when you should also discuss all the details about payment. In Idaho, this will usually be between 25-30% of your settlement depending on how far the court case has progressed. In Utah, a fee schedule was recently struck down by the state’s supreme court, so things are different. Laws and regulations differ from state to state, so find out what the specifics are for where you live.

About Jacob Hill

Hey I'm Jacob, the operations manager around here. If you're looking for a workers compensation attorney in Utah, or a workers compensation law firm in Idaho, you've come to the right place. Please subscribe below to be added to our mailing list where you'll receive email notifications when we drop more great content like this.

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