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Key Takeaways

Workers' compensation is a no-fault system
Navigating the workers' comp system can be complex in some situations, so consulting a lawyer is crucial
Workers' comp lawyers typically charge a contingency fee, which vary by state and case complexity
Always consult a lawyer before agreeing to any settlement
Report injuries ASAP; some deadlines are as short as 14 days
Insurers often use tactics to deny or reduce claim payouts
A lawyer is vital for denied or complex claims
Despite lawyer costs, the benefits of obtaining full and fair compensation outweigh the expense

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Investing in Advocacy: How Much Does a Workers Comp Lawyer Cost?

Key Takeaways

Workers' compensation is a no-fault system
Navigating the workers' comp system can be complex in some situations, so consulting a lawyer is crucial
Workers' comp lawyers typically charge a contingency fee, which vary by state and case complexity
Always consult a lawyer before agreeing to any settlement
Report injuries ASAP; some deadlines are as short as 14 days
Insurers often use tactics to deny or reduce claim payouts
A lawyer is vital for denied or complex claims
Despite lawyer costs, the benefits of obtaining full and fair compensation outweigh the expense

Suffering a workplace injury can be an extremely stressful, life-altering event. Besides grappling with physical pain, medical bills, and lost wages, you’re forced by necessity to navigate the complicated workers’ compensation system. If you’ve recently suffered a workplace accident, you might be wondering, “Do I really need to hire a workers comp attorney? And if so, how much will it cost me?” 

In this in-depth guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about workers’ comp and hiring a workers’ comp attorney. We’ll cover:

How the workers' comp system works

When you should invest in a workers’ comp lawyer

Exactly how a lawyer contingency fee is calculated and paid

Whether a lawyer’s legal fees are worth the value they can provide

By the end, you'll have a full understanding of what’s involved in hiring a workers’ comp attorney  - and how much it costs.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Law

Workers’ compensation law provides benefits to employees who suffer job-related illnesses or injuries. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning you can receive benefits regardless of who was responsible for the accident.

All but four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Oklahoma) require employers to have workers' compensation insurance, but the number of employees required for coverage varies by state. In most states, employers with one or more employees are required to have workers' compensation insurance. However, in some states, the requirement applies only to employers with more than a certain number of employees. For example, in Alabama, employers with five or more employees must have workers' compensation insurance. This insurance covers costs related to your work injury, including:

Medical treatment and physical therapy

Prescription medications

Lost wages from missed work

Compensation for permanent impairment or disability

Vocational rehabilitation, if you can’t return to your old job

It's crucial to report your workplace injury to your supervisor and file a claim as quickly as possible - deadlines can be as short as 14 days from the incident. Your employer’s insurer will then investigate and determine whether to accept or deny your claim.

Unfortunately, many insurers employ aggressive tactics to avoid paying claims. They may dispute whether your injury occurred at work or claim it was pre-existing. They also often try to lowball benefit amounts, hoping injured workers will take smaller payouts to avoid fighting.

4 Signs You Should Hire a Workers Compensation Lawyer

While you may not need an attorney for straightforward, clear-cut workers comp claims, denied claims or more complex situations often benefit from legal expertise. Here are some signs it may be worth hiring a workers compensation lawyer:

If your workers’ comp claim gets denied, a knowledgeable workers compensation attorney can help you navigate the appeal process. Our attorneys know how to gather evidence, prove your claim is work-related, and force the insurer to reverse the denial. Without legal representation, injured workers often abandon denied claims due to a lack of legal knowledge and expertise. Don’t let this happen to you - if your work comp claim is denied, call us at 877-715-9300 for a free no-obligation consultation.

Certain workplace injuries like head injuries, back injuries, and occupational diseases often require more advanced legal knowledge to prove and maximize benefits. An experienced attorney understands the nuances of conditions like concussions, herniated discs, carpal tunnel syndrome, and lung diseases - they are best equipped to show how these injuries impair your ability to work and present a solid case for your full compensation.

If your employer denies the validity of your claim, you may be forced into a legal conflict - especially if their insurer launches an investigation against you. An experienced workers compensation lawyer can deal with inquiries into your claim by gathering witness statements, accident reports, medical records, and other evidence. They have the legal knowledge and skill to rebut accusations and prove your claim is 100% valid.

If your injury has caused permanent impairment that prevents you from working long-term, you should seek to maximize your workers compensation benefits. To this end, our lawyers will work to obtain the highest possible disability rating on your behalf, along with wage loss benefits to replace your income. While you focus on your health, your attorney can handle calculating benefit amounts and ensuring you receive all compensation owed over your lifetime.

Why You Should Consult With a Workers' Comp Lawyer Before Agreeing to Anything

If you were hurt on the job, don't sign any settlement agreement or accept an insurer's offer without first consulting an attorney. A workers' comp lawyer can review your case specifics and give their assessment of what your claim could be worth - they'll also explain exactly what their fee structure would be.

Speaking with an attorney before accepting a compensation offer may provide tremendous benefits at no risk beyond a small portion of your time. If, after reviewing your case, your lawyer doesn't feel confident they can obtain more compensation than the current offer, you're free to take the insurer's deal. However, if your attorney believes your claim's value exceeds the offer, their representation is likely well worth the investment. Don't leave money on the table - fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

Legal Fees When Hiring a Lawyer: Explained

The typical fee arrangement for workers' comp attorneys is a contingency fee. This means the lawyer only collects their fee if they succeed in getting compensation for your claim.

How a Contingency Fee Works

Here is how contingency fee structures typically work:

    You pay nothing up front. The lawyer's entire fee comes out of your eventual settlement or award.

    The lawyer only gets paid if you receive a financial settlement from your claim. If you receive $0, they receive $0.

    The attorney fee is deducted as a percentage of your total compensation amount. For workers' compensation cases specifically, common contingency fees range from 10-25% of the settlement, depending on state laws and the complexity of the case. For example, in Alabama, contingency fees for workers' comp cases are fixed at 15%, which is one of the lowest rates in the country. By comparison, typical contingency fees for workers' comp cases in other states we service are: Georgia - 25%, Tennessee - 20%, and Florida - 25%.

    It's important to note the fee percentages above apply specifically to workers' compensation cases, and may differ from contingency fees for personal injury cases.

    Is a Lawyer Worth the Contingency Fee?

    Given that hiring a lawyer costs you nothing up front, the real question becomes: is giving up a percentage of your compensation worthwhile?

    The answer is a resounding YES.

    Injured workers represented by lawyers consistently receive substantially higher compensation compared to unrepresented workers. One study found people using attorneys received payouts more than 60% higher than those without legal help.

    This makes sense when you consider the value an experienced attorney provides:

    Ensuring your full medical costs related to the injury are covered

    Calculating and maximizing your disability rating

    Determining your complete lost income and future earnings losses

    Compiling evidence to prove your claim is valid

    Negotiating fiercely to get the highest possible settlement

    Taking your case to court if the insurer won't cooperate

    Without this expertise and advocacy in your corner, you risk settling for a fraction of your claim's true worth. An attorney helps level the playing field against powerful insurance companies. Additionally, reputable attorneys will only take cases they feel highly confident they will win. This means if a lawyer is willing to work on your claim on contingency, they likely believe your compensation will exceed their fee percentage.

    While giving up a percentage of your payout may not feel ideal, hiring a lawyer is an incredibly smart investment. Their fee is the "cost" of securing full and fair compensation for your injury.

    Protect Yourself After a Work Injury - Call a Lawyer Today

    Suffering a workplace injury is hard enough without fighting your employer's insurance company by yourself. Don't jeopardize the benefits and compensation you're owed - to fully understand your rights and options, consult Wettermark Keith’s workers' comp lawyers at 877-715-9300. Their expertise - available 24/7 - can ensure that you continue in your recovery with the financial resources you’re entitled to by law.

    Wettermark Keith, with offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional but includes a diverse range of practice areas, including premises liability law, personal injury cases, auto wrecks, trucking wrecks, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, on-the-job injuries, social security disability, and veterans’ disability claims, to name just a few. At Wettermark Keith, we believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to practice with care and compassion- to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. We do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust. You should never wonder what’s going on with your case. We will keep you in the loop and represent you as if you are family- because to us, you are.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Workers' compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. It is a no-fault system, meaning an employee can receive workers' comp benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury.

    Every state requires employers to have workers' compensation insurance. This coverage pays for medical treatment, lost wages, and other costs related to a workplace injury. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, workers give up the right to sue their employer for on-the-job injuries. Workers' comp functions as an employee safety net in the event of occupational harm or illness.

    Most employees are eligible for workers' comp benefits if injured on the job. This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees. Independent contractors and self-employed persons must purchase their own workers' comp insurance in most states.

    Certain industries like agriculture and real estate have exemptions allowing uninsured independent contractors. But in general, any employee who suffers a job-related injury or illness can file a claim through their employer's workers' comp program for benefits. There are rare exceptions for company owners and their relatives. But the bottom line is the vast majority of workers are covered.

    Workers' compensation covers a broad range of physical and mental health conditions caused by work duties. Typical covered injuries include strains and sprains, cuts/lacerations, burns, broken bones, and repetitive stress injuries. Illnesses like asthma, asbestosis, COPD, cancer, and PTSD can also be compensated if caused by workplace hazards.

    The key to a successful workers comp claim is being able to prove the injury or illness resulted from performing job responsibilities. There must be a clear connection to the employee's work environment, duties, tools, or actions taken on the company's behalf. Pre-existing conditions that are aggravated or accelerated by work can also qualify for benefits. Overall, workers' comp covers most health issues that arise from employment conditions.

    It's crucial to notify your employer and file a workers' comp claim immediately after the accident. Every state has strict statutes of limitation governing how long an employee has to report their work-related injury. Deadlines for reporting your injury range from 3 to 30 days, depending on the state. Failing to report in time can jeopardize your eligibility for benefits. So don't delay. Speak with your supervisor and file the appropriate injury paperwork with your employer's workers' comp insurer as soon as possible after any workplace incident.

    You do not legally need to hire a lawyer to file a claim or receive workers' comp benefits. However, it is a wise choice to consult a workers' comp attorney if your claim is denied, your employer disputes that the injury occurred at work, you suffer severe or permanent damage, or the insurer engages in aggressive tactics. The expertise of an experienced workers comp attorney can maximize your compensation and benefits in these challenging situations.

    Benefit amounts depend on several factors related to the injury and employment:

    • Type and severity of injury/illness
    • Employee's pre-injury weekly wage
    • Applicable state benefit rates and caps
    • Extent of temporary and/or permanent disability
    • Vocational factors like ability to return to prior occupation

    Lost wage benefits typically replace 2/3 of an injured worker's gross pre-injury earnings, and permanent disability ratings help calculate benefit amounts for life-long impairment. Overall, benefits are tailored to the individual worker based on medical evidence, income, and employment impact from work-related injury or illness.

    If your workers' comp claim gets denied, don't panic. As soon as possible, consult with an attorney who can help you navigate the appeal process. Many claims are wrongfully denied at first only to be overturned later on. If you choose to work with a workers comp attorney, they will be able to request hearings with the state workers' comp board, present evidence that your injury is work-related, show how it impairs your employment, and fight to get compensation and coverage for your treatment.

    Ready to work together? Contact us today for a free consultation.


    If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.