Typically, a workers’ compensation case is handled on a contingency fee basis. “Contingency” means that if you win your case, your workers’ compensation lawyer receives a percentage of your workers’ compensation benefit award. If you were to lose your case, then there is often no fee, but you may have expenses.
The benefit to the injured worker is increased by the usage of the contingency fee model. First, the need for a substantial up-front fee is eliminated, allowing all workers, even those with limited financial resources, the chance to receive equal, quality legal representation. Second, the contingency fee model provides a strong incentive for the workers’ compensation lawyer in obtaining the maximum benefits for you as the injured worker.
The laws and regulations covering the fees of a workers’ compensation lawyer vary from state-to-state. The percentage of the fee also takes into account the particulars of your case and the type or benefit at issue.
Generally, a case that is settled prior to the administrative hearing will be at a lower percentage fee than one that requires a hearing or a trial. Every state places a cap on the amount the workers’ compensation lawyer can charge, usually not more than 33 percent of the benefit settlement, but some attorneys can charge up to 40 percent. During your initial consultation with your attorney, you will be provided with clear explanations of the fees and/or expenses that you will be responsible for.
Some state laws prohibit workers’ compensation lawyers from charging fees for obtaining routine benefits that are not disputed by the insurer or the employer. Examples of such routine benefits are medical bills or lost wages. All workers’ compensation lawyer fees are approved by a workers’ compensation judge or board and tested for reasonableness before your lawyer is paid.
In addition, if your employer or the insurer engages in shockingly noticeable or evident unscrupulous behavior or causes unnecessary delays, your workers’ compensation lawyer can request an additional penalty amount or coverage of your legal fees. The penalty amounts are usually not subject to the percentage caps mandated by the state.
Additional Expenses Related to Your Case
Expenses are not covered by most standard fee agreements. Instead, they are additional charges. Most law firms will cover any costs of litigating your case up-front. However, you will probably be charged these expenses at the end of your case.
An average workers’ compensation case will include the following expenses:
- Copying expenses;
- Postage, delivery, or filing costs;
- Lawyer travel expenses;
- Deposition costs;
- Independent physician examinations; and
- Requests for medical records.
You are responsible for knowing and understanding what your agreement covers. You should have a good estimate of the typical expenses for a case such as yours. Understand too that some law firms charge you for these expenses even if you lose your case.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for a Free Consultation
The only way to know for sure if you are entitled to benefits is to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Massachusetts. Contact Jim Glaser Law today for more information or to schedule your free case evaluation.