Every potential client we talk to asks the same question: “How do you get paid?”
It’s a fair question. Most injured people don’t have the money to pay an attorney. It can seem too good to be true that you get a free consultation, and you don’t pay us unless you get paid.
Here’s how it works.
How a workers’ comp lawyer gets paid
Attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are different than attorney fees in personal injury or social security cases.
The simple version is that if we are instrumental in overturning a workers’ compensation claim denial, then a judge will award us a fee, or we will negotiate a fee with the insurance company.
We cannot charge you a fee.
The insurance company that denied your claim has to pay the lawyer’s fee, because they forced you to get a lawyer and go to court to get your rightful benefits.
If we prevail in overturning the denied claim, then the insurance company pays our costs. Your only monetary responsibility is to reimburse us for our costs if we lose in a denied claim.
If we settle a workers’ compensation case without going to court, our fee is 25% of the first $50,000 and 10% of any money thereafter.
If we increase the amount of benefits you receive, our attorney fee would come out of the increase.
So, as your workers’ comp lawyer, we only get paid if you get paid.
Why we offer free consultations
Like most Oregon workers’ comp lawyers, we advertise a free consultation. That means an injured worker can call and talk with our legal team.
Here is the catch: we can’t represent every injured worker who calls us.
In fact, one of the most important things we do is identify injured workers who we may not be able to help. Some of the most common reasons we do not accept a workers’ compensation case include:
- The injured worker does not need to appeal a claim denial;
- We have a conflict of interest with one of the parties in the case;
- It is unlikely that we will be able to increase the value of the case; or,
- Our lawyers are not available to work on the case or can’t attend the hearings.
When you contact us for a free consultation, we are always thinking about ways that we can help you. If we can’t help you, we may be able to find you another attorney to help you with your specific problem.
Signing up as a client
If we can help you, then the next steps are signing an Attorney Retention Agreement – or “retainer” – that details exactly how we get paid.
We send the retainer and legal documents to you, or set a time for you to come into the office to review with us. (Law firms don’t post retainers on their websites because unscrupulous people could just print, sign and claim that the law firm represents them.)
Once the retainer and other documents are signed, then we can get started on your claim denial.
If you have questions about how a workers’ comp lawyer gets paid, or would like to discuss of fees or retainer agreements, feel free to call our office at (503) 229-0895.
The original version of this post was dated 6/13/14; it has since been revised.