How Does My Lawyer Get Paid in a Workers Compensation Case?
Attorney fees for injured employees should never be a concern. You will never be asked to pay a lawyer from your own pocket. Fees are highly regulated, and are only paid if and when the employee is being paid.Payment on Disputed Benefits
An insurance company may fight a claim for many reasons. Examples include that the injury is not disabling, you had a pre-existing condition, it did not occur on the job and many other imaginative excuses to deny benefits. Clearly, the injured employee needs legal help. Your claim needs to get before an administrative law judge. The insurance company has many lawyers. You need to even the playing field.
There are two types of proceedings before an administrative law judge: First, a conference where the opposing attorneys do most if not all of the talking. Second, there are hearings where the judge hears actual testimony. In either situation, if you win and the insurance company is ordered to pay your benefits, the insurance company also also has to pay your attorneys fee.
The amounts differ depending upon whether the order comes after a conference, a hearing, or a formal appeal of a judge’s order to an appellate panel, but it is paid by the insurance company in addition to the benefits paid to the employee.
There is a small exception: the insurance company can offset part of the fee by reducing one month's worth of weekly benefits by 22%.
What if you lose? Your attorney simply does not get paid.My Claim Was Just to Get My Medical Bills Paid. Are Fees Different?
You may be seeking a certain type of treatment that the insurance company is fighting. If you secure a judge’s order to pay for the treatment, the same rules apply: the insurance company has to pay your lawyer if you prevail; your lawyer does not get paid at all, by anyone, if you lose.What About Lump Sum Settlements?
Lump sum settlements are used to resolve disputes over the extent to which an employee may be due past weekly payments or will be due future weekly payments. Your injury may prevent you from returning to your prior type of job. If you feel you can do other work, and indeed may prefer to do so, lump summing future benefits allows you a fund of money to use as you transition to different employment. The insurance company may agree to the settlement if it believes it is buying off future risk.
An attorney is allowed a fee of 20% of the lump sum (with small exceptions) if the lump sum is “with liability”, or 15% if the settlement is “without liability”. (Whether it is “with” or “without” liability depends upon whether future medical bills will still be covered by the insurance company). In any event, the fee only arises because you are receiving significant payment on your case. It never comes out of your pocket. You would not agree to a settlement, nor would a judge approve it, unless it was to your benefit.
When you need help with your workplace injury, call us at 978-458-1229. You will not have to risk a single dollar for fees.