Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees
When weighing whether to hire a Boston workers’ compensation lawyer, one of the first questions is, “What will it cost?” Many claimants struggled paycheck-to-paycheck even before the accident. Now, they are financially overwhelmed.
At The Attorney Injury Group, we recognize this is a legitimate concern of many of our clients, and it’s important to take the time to explain the way the fees are structured, the reason for the fees and the ways in which we can help make this process more affordable.
Here’s the good news: When you win, it’s the insurance company that pays your attorney’s fees fees. These fees may vary depending on the exact circumstances, but the law caps them currently at 20 percent.
By doing it this way, the legislature had hoped to curb instances wherein insurers would outright deny legitimate claims just to make it tougher for workers to obtain coverage. Unfortunately, it still happens. We seek to hold them to account.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Your attorney is the one who will fight to ensure you receive the maximum available workers’ compensation benefits. Most of the time, it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. In many cases, injured workers receive higher benefits – even after paying attorney’s fees – than if you don’t hire a lawyer at all.
The reason is this: An experienced workers’ compensation attorney knows how to navigate the labyrinthine benefits system through negotiations with the insurance company, appeals through the Department of Industrial Accidents and, if necessary, through the civil courts. We can help you determine the potential viability of your claim at the outset. We can inform you on whether you stand to gain additional compensation via a third-party claim by a negligent party other than your employer.
The Department of Industrial Accidents is careful to point out in several pieces of public literature that while injured or ill workers aren’t mandated to hire a lawyer, “It is strongly advised.”
Half of all workers’ compensation claims are disputed by employers, and it can be extremely difficult to ensure your rights are protected and you obtain just compensation if you aren’t familiar with the process and the kind of evidence necessary to prove your case.
Particularly if you have suffered extensive injuries or expect to lose a substantial time away from work, you can’t afford to NOT hire an attorney. To do so is to risk losing your case for reasons that are entirely preventable.
Contingency Fee Basis
Workers’ compensation cases in Massachusetts are accepted by attorneys on a contingency-fee basis.
This means the worker does not pay the cost upfront. The bill is paid at the conclusion of proceedings, either by the insurance carrier or the employee from the final benefits awarded.
Attorney Fee Structure
In Massachusetts, attorney’s fees for lawyers hired by employees in workers’ compensation claims is spelled out in MGL 152 § 13A of the Workers Compensation Act.
Pursuant to the Act, your attorney can only charge you legal fees if you win your case, or if he or she helps you successfully defend against the insurer’s attempt to end or reduce your workers’ compensation benefits.
The Act provides these fees are not to exceed 20 percent, though the exact amount depends on the type of payments awarded.
When a worker is awarded periodic payments:
- Insurance carriers are responsible for attorney fees if they contest an award of periodic payments. However, the insurer is allowed to reduce the claimant’s workers’ compensation as a credit toward the attorney fee, for up to one month by 22 percent of that month’s periodic benefits. After that, the worker’s payments resume at the full rate.
- Employees are responsible for attorney fees the same as any other excludable expense when he or she appeals a decision of an administrative law judge and wins.
In cases where there is a lump sum payment:
- Attorney is paid from the settlement amount, limited to 20 percent of the total lump sum when insurer is assigned or has accepted liability. When liability is not assigned or accepted, the fee is 15 percent of the total.
If you are unsure how best to proceed with your workers’ compensation claim, contact our offices today to learn more about how we can help.
Contact the Attorney Injury Group today for a free and confidential consultation.