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  • Writer's pictureJohn Larrimer

How Do Workers Compensation Attorneys Get Paid?

Attorneys for workers' compensation are compensated on a contingency basis. That means, they don't get paid until their client receives his/her workers' compensation benefits.

Employees in Ohio who are injured on the job are covered by workers' compensation. A worker getting authorized for compensation after a job-related injury can be a difficult procedure, even though most companies in the state are required to obtain workers' compensation insurance for their employees.

If an employee has been injured or sickened at work in Ohio, they should see a workers' compensation attorney. They will have a representative who knows how to fight for their workers' compensation benefits if they choose an experienced workers' compensation attorney. A workers comp lawyer will also help an employee negotiate a reasonable settlement and defend the employee at a hearing or appeal.

Fee Structure for Workers' Compensation Attorneys

Fee Structure for Workers' Compensation Attorneys

Attorney fees for workers' compensation cases are typically 15 percent of the total permanent disability judgment. This is much less than the 33 percent to 40 percent that personal injury lawyers routinely charge for accidents that occur outside of the workplace.

An attorney will ask the judge to authorize their fee once a settlement or award has been achieved. Then, a judge will take into account the amount of time the attorney spent on the case, the outcome, and the case's difficulty.

Complex cases that involve extensive investigations, several employers, and difficult legal challenges are eligible for a 15 percent attorney fee.

Clients will not know the entire legal fee until the case is settled. During the initial appointment, an experienced Ohio workers' compensation lawyer will explain a simple cost structure.

Injured workers indicated that their experienced workers' comp attorney earned an average of 15 percent of their workers' compensation settlements or awards in a national poll. According to the same poll, injured workers who retained attorneys received 30 percent more compensation than those who filed their workers' compensation claims without legal assistance.

Many states ban lawyers from charging fees for ordinary benefits such as medical bills or lost earnings that haven't been disputed by the employer or insurance.

In rare cases, such as where the employer or insurer has participated in severe misconduct, created unwarranted delays, or refused to pay benefits that have already been awarded, states may allow attorneys to ask the judge to force the opposing side to pay additional fees.

Because these fees (also known as sanctions or penalties) are not deducted from a victim's compensation, state rules do not apply to them.

The Cost of the Initial Consultation

Zero. An Ohio workers' compensation lawyer will ask questions about the injuries and go over the procedure during the appointment.

Deposition Fees

There are two types of workers' compensation attorney fee contracts. The first is a straight contingent fee agreement. This usually entails a 1/3 fee deducted from unpaid temporary total disability benefits. There is no charge owed from ongoing benefits that have not yet been accrued. A third or more of any permanent partial award is usually deducted as a fee, as is a third of any cumulative salary loss.

Finally, there is a 1/3 fee if a settlement is reached. If a person is declared permanently and fully incapacitated, there may be a 1/3 fee deducted from the amount owed, as well as a $10,000 fee deducted from future benefits. (In most cases, a lawyer's expenses are reimbursed from any compensation).

If a worker's employer agrees to take their deposition (similar to a statement but with a court reporter), their Ohio workers compensation lawyer must be compensated for the time spent preparing the worker for the deposition, as well as the time spent at the deposition. The employer's insurance company pays for this, and it has no bearing on the Ohio workers' compensation amount.

Hearing Attendance Fee or Contingency Fee Plus Hourly Rate

The second form of price includes all of the above fees plus an hourly rate, which is included in a straight contingency fee. When an attorney is required to attend a hearing that has nothing to do with receiving remuneration, the hourly fee comes into play (money benefits).

As an example, the doctor may want to provide a treatment that the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) denies or a victim's employer challenges.

There could be two hearings in this case: one in front of a district hearing officer and the other in front of a staff hearing officer. Another common scenario is when the BWC wants to stop the victim from taking their medication. It's possible that there will be two hearings on this. Such as for attending and preparing each hearing, the attorney will either charge an hourly rate or a lump sum fee.

Is the Money I Got from My Workers' Compensation Claim Taxable?

Essentially, there are numerous myths surrounding workers' compensation. One of these is the fact that a worker's compensation payout is taxable. Settlements from workers' compensation are not taxable. Because a lump sum settlement payment is not regarded as "earned" income, it is exempt from state and federal taxes instead.

Will You Have to Pay Your Workers Compensation Attorney in Advance?

Some individuals are hesitant to hire an attorney because they don't know how much it will cost upfront. Most attorneys do not expect money until they have won a client's case.

If an attorney works on a contingency fee basis, he or she will not be paid if the victim does not receive a workers' compensation payment. Additional legal fees may also be forgiven by some attorneys. Before agreeing to represent a victim, most attorneys offer a free consultation to go over the details of a client's case.

Potential Charges for Case-Related Expenses

In addition to fees, other expenditures and expenses in workers' compensation cases can include:

  • Copies of medical records

  • Paying doctors for independent medical exams

  • Medical bills

  • Depositions

  • Attorney’s travel expenses

While these expenses are not usually included in a conventional fee agreement, a client can inquire about how their attorney's company handles repayment after they win a case. During a victim's initial appointment, the attorney should be able to provide them with a clear understanding of any prospective fees. If they are unable to do so, they should leave and seek representation elsewhere.

Insurance Companies May Pay Attorney Fees

An employer's insurance may be ordered to pay some of the attorney's costs by the judge assigned to a workers' compensation case. This is most likely to happen if a victim's benefits were not paid on time.

Another reason the insurance company may be obligated to pay the victim's attorney's costs is denying a workers' comp claim without establishing adequate legal grounds.

Fees for Workers' Compensation Attorneys

It's important that one understands the costs of hiring an attorney. Workers' compensation cases, like most personal injury matters, are typically handled on a "contingency fee" basis, as mentioned above. This implies that if a victim wins their case, their lawyer will get a cut of the workers' compensation payments or settlement. There is no charge if a victim loses.

Contingency fee agreements eliminate the need for large upfront payments, allowing all injured workers, including those with modest financial resources, to access a professional legal representative. They also offer attorneys a tremendous incentive to get the best outcomes for their clients.

What Is the Commission's Decision on the Fee?

In addition, unlike many other states, Ohio does not set a cap on how much a lawyer can charge in a workers' compensation lawsuit. On the other hand, a workers' comp attorney in Columbus Ohio must have their fees approved by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). Many Ohio lawyers request a fee of one-third of a client's award or settlement, which is usually accepted if the client agreed to it ahead of time.

An injured worker should have a written agreement with their lawyer specifying the price that will be charged before any work on their case begins. If the client and their lawyer later disagree on the cost, they can ask the BWC to settle the disagreement.

The BWC will consider the client's fee agreement, as well as other considerations such as how much of the lawyer's time and effort was required to achieve the desired outcome in the client's case when determining how much they should pay.

Will I Have to Pay for the Initial Consultation?

Will I Have to Pay for the Initial Consultation?

Injured workers are usually given a free case evaluation by workers' compensation lawyers. An injured worker will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding their workers' compensation system and decide whether or not they wish to cooperate with a lawyer during this meeting.

The lawyer can also tell the client whether the workers' compensation case is straightforward enough for them to handle on their own.

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Your Workers' Compensation Claims Process

The Larrimer & Larrimer firm has decades of experience successfully handling workers' compensation claims for injured Ohio workers. It also offers a professional attorney-client relationship.

Moreover, the firm's attorneys have worked on workers' compensation cases with the BWC, the Industrial Commission, and in a variety of Ohio courtrooms. Following a devastating workplace tragedy, the firm's workers' comp lawyers can help many people get their medical costs and lost income compensated so that their families and futures are secure. They can help clients who want to claim compensation for work-related injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or those who experienced an accident while driving a personal vehicle for work.

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