No. Workers’ compensation attorneys get paid by a “contingency fee.” This fee is a portion of your financial settlement. In addition to that, you also reimburse the lawyer from the settlement for any costs expended to help your case.
This fee arrangement helps you because your lawyer should be driven to get the best settlement possible—the more you get, the more he earns. Plus there’s no upfront retainer fees, which you might be unable to afford from losing work due to your injuries.
To give you a better idea how this works, we’ll break it down a little more.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees
The law caps attorney fees at a maximum of one-third of your monetary settlement. Before anyone gets paid from it, your lawyer must submit a form signed by both of you showing payments from the settlement—his fee, the reimbursed costs, and the amount you get.
No one gets paid until the commission approves the fees and costs by order. This protects workers from dishonest lawyers who charge too much.
Typical Workers’ Compensation Case Costs
Your lawyer pays these costs upfront to help your case. At Holland & Usry, we work to minimize these expenses—without hurting your case—to help you get the most money possible.
Typical case expenses include:
- Fees for evidence. For a small fee, we get a copy of the Commission file, which can contain important basic information like the first report of injury showing how your employer reported the accident. It might also contain other forms filed by your employer that supply other useful nuggets about your case, including your “comp rate,” the amount you get paid if you’re out of work on temporary total disability.
- Fees charged by providers for medical records. We can’t fully evaluate your case without knowing what your doctors say. We especially need information from your medical caregivers that will help use evaluate your impairment rating.
- Fees charged by your doctor to meet with him. Sometimes we meet with your doctor to discuss your case, especially to be sure he relates the injury to work, to discuss impairment ratings, and evaluate whether you need future medical care. This isn’t a bribe—it makes up for the time he loses with patients to meet with us.
These costs are usually a few hundred bucks or less. But if your case is contested, we may have additional costs, due to:
- Filing fees. The Commission charges a fee to request a hearing.
- Depositions. This is out-of-court sworn testimony where the insurance company lawyer asks you all about your background, injury, and the impact it had on your life at work and home. We may also take depositions, if absolutely necessary. Again we're working to minimize your costs to maximize your settlement to you.
- Experts. Only rare cases require them. Examples include second opinions and, in some severe injury cases, a vocational evaluation expert. We might employ a vocational evaluator if we’re trying to prove you eligible for maximum benefits of permanent and total disability or wage loss. The evaluator can tell us whether you can work again and, if so, the limits of your ability to earn wages. Because experts can make costs skyrocket, we use them only when absolutely necessary.
- Mediation. This is rare. It's only required in certain cases, including permanent and total disability cases. In mediation, the parties hire another lawyer with no interest in the outcome and experience in comp cases to help them settle it.
Contested case costs can run into the low thousands.
The Good News—All The Legal Work Costs You Nothing Up Front
If you’ve been hurt at work, you have nothing to lose by meeting with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. And by hiring one, you might have more to gain than you thought. Start a live chat with us right now to schedule a free meeting to see what we can do to help your case.