Understand how and when a workers’ compensation attorney gets paid
Workers’ compensation offers financial protection to Georgia employees who get injured on the job. Although most employers in the state are required to purchase workers’ comp insurance for their employees, getting approved for compensation after an injury can be a complicated process.
The insurance company might question whether your injuries really occurred at work. Even if they approve your claim, they may decide to pay out less than you need and deserve.
If you suffered a work-related illness or injury in Georgia, you may want to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Having an experienced workers’ comp attorney means you’ll have an advocate who will go to bat for you and knows how to best support your workers’ comp claim. Additionally, an attorney will work to negotiate a fair settlement and represent you at a hearing or appeal.
If you’re weighing the benefits of having legal representation, you may wonder:
How do attorneys get paid for their work?
Here are a few things to know about the cost and fees involved, as well as when and how a workers’ comp attorney gets paid.
When to hire a workers’ comp attorney
Legal representation may be necessary for any of the following reasons:
- You suffered a permanent or life-altering injury
- Your employer disputes your claim
- Strong medical evidence does not support your claim
- You’re not sure if you should accept the insurance company’s settlement offer
- You want to appeal a claim denial
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider wants to minimize their losses, and sometimes they accomplish this by minimizing or rejecting valid claims. Our workers’ comp attorneys will work to argue the merits of your claim and protect your rights.
Will you have to pay your attorney upfront?
Some people are apprehensive about hiring an attorney because they’re unsure of the initial costs involved. Most attorneys do not ask for payment before you win your case. Instead, they cover all costs during the process.
If you don’t ultimately receive a workers’ comp settlement, your attorney won’t receive a fee if they work on a contingency fee basis—as we do here at Gerber & Holder. Some attorneys may also forgive additional legal costs. Most offer a free consultation before agreeing to represent you to discuss the details of your claim.
How do workers’ compensation attorneys get paid?
It is standard practice not to charge for an initial consultation. Also, it’s fairly common for a client not to owe any fees or costs if they don’t win.
So, how do workers’ compensation attorneys get paid for their work?
Like most personal injury attorneys, those who accept workers’ compensation cases do so on a contingency fee basis. This means if you win your workers’ comp case, your attorney receives a percentage of your benefits or settlement. Likewise, if you lose, your attorney does not receive a fee.
Eliminating upfront payments with contingency fee arrangements gives any injured worker, regardless of financial resources, equal access to quality legal representation. Plus, this policy strongly incentivizes your attorney to obtain the maximum possible benefits for you.
Potential charges for case-related expenses
In addition to fees, workers’ compensation cases have other costs and expenses that may include:
- Copies of medical records
- Paying doctors for independent medical exams
- Attorney’s travel expenses
While these costs are not typically part of the standard fee agreement, you can ask your attorney how their law firm handles reimbursement after winning your case. The attorney should be able to give you a clear understanding of any potential fees involved during your initial consultation. If they cannot, then walk away and seek representation elsewhere.
What percentage does a workers’ comp attorney get?
The percentage a workers’ comp attorney gets out of the final settlement is based on Georgia’s workers’ compensation law.
In Georgia, workers’ compensation attorneys are not allowed to charge more than 25 percent of the benefits in your settlement or reward (not including medical benefits).
In addition, Georgia law states that the fee cannot exceed the amount you would receive in 400 weeks of disability benefits.
Insurance companies may pay some attorney fees
The judge assigned to your workers’ comp case may order your employer’s insurer to pay some of the fees owed to your attorney. This is likely to occur when your benefits were not paid within the proper time frame.
Denying your workers’ comp claim without showing reasonable legal grounds is another reason the insurance company may be required to pay your attorney’s fees.
Can you negotiate attorney fees?
During your initial free consultation, your attorney should clearly explain all the fees and costs that you will be charged. Ask questions about charges that seem unclear since Georgia law sets a cap on how much you have to pay for representation.
You are free to negotiate fees before signing the agreement. If you have concerns, discuss them with your attorney. This will ensure you avoid any misunderstandings once a settlement or reward is reached.
Talk with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today
Georgia’s workers’ compensation system is complicated to navigate. While you are busy trying to recuperate from a work-related injury, the insurance company is likely working to lower the cost of your claim. Their goal is often to reduce your benefits or deny them altogether.