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How much does a workers' compensation lawyer cost?

If you were injured on the job, you may be wondering how much does a workers' compensation lawyer cost? Read on to find out.

evident Editorial Team
December 1, 2023
Hammer and wrench on a table

If you’ve been hurt or gotten sick on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can provide crucial financial support.

But you may also be concerned about the costs involved in hiring a workers' comp lawyer. That is understandable, and how much an attorney will cost is front of mind for basically everyone who considers whether to hire a lawyer.

So, how much does a workers' comp lawyer cost? An important thing to know if you are considering whether to hire a workers' compensation lawyer is that they generally work on a contingency basis, which means that they get paid a percentage of your award if your application is successful. In other words, attorney fees for workers' compensation cases are typically contingent upon the success of your case.

Additionally, many workers’ compensation lawyers offer free consultations. These can be a helpful way for you to evaluate whether you should hire a workers' comp attorney, and whether the lawyer you speak with is a good fit for you.

The benefits of contingency basis fees
Key Takeaways

State law dictates how much a workers’ comp lawyer can charge

State laws often set a maximum on the percentage of the workers’ compensation lawyer’s contingency fee.

So what percentage do workers' comp lawyers get? In most states, a workers’ comp lawyer can typically charge about 10-20% of your award.

Some states have higher maximum limits, though, or no limit at all. In North Carolina, for instance, workers’ compensation lawyers often charge contingency fees of 25%.

The contingency fee must generally be approved by a judge. The judge will evaluate whether the fee is reasonable in light of a variety of factors, including:

  • How complicated the case was
  • The amount of time and work involved
  • The size of your award
  • The result in the case

If the workers' comp attorney’s fees are approved, the lawyer is paid directly out of your award or by your employer’s insurance company. This means no out of pocket charge to you, and your workers' comp lawyer is not paid until your claim succeeds.

Lawyer’s Fees vs. Legal Costs

Separate from the workers' comp lawyer’s fees, though, there could be some incidental costs associated with your workers' comp claim.

Some legal costs that may be associated with your workers' compensation case include:

  • Fling fees for filing documents with the court
  • Costs for postage or making copies, such as of medical records
  • Physicians' fees if you get an independent examination or need a doctor to testify at a workers’ comp hearing
Chart comparing lawyer's fees and legal costs

Many workers’ compensation lawyers do not ask clients to pay for these expenses in advance and will instead ask you to reimburse them at the end of the case. It is possible though that, unlike the workers' comp attorney’s fees, you could be responsible for some of these legal costs even if your claim is unsuccessful.

Your fee agreement with the workers’ compensation lawyer will address who is responsible for paying legal costs.

FAQs about workers’ comp claims

Is it worth getting a workers comp attorney?

There are a few factors that impact whether it makes sense to hire a workers' comp attorney. For instance, do you have a straightforward case involving minor injuries and no objections from your employer? Great, many people handle their own workers' comp cases under these circumstances.

But a workers' comp attorney is a crucial resource anytime you are dealing with a more serious injury, objections from your employer or their insurance, or any other complicating factors. And attorneys have far more experience navigating the workers' comp system than most injured workers who often have no prior experience filing for workers' comp benefits.

Another key consideration is that workers' comp attorneys generally work on a contingency basis. This means you only pay if your claim is successful, so you don't have to worry about paying expensive legal fees out of pocket.

When should I hire a workers comp attorney?

​​Here are a few of the factors that impact whether you should hire a workers' comp lawyer:

  • You work-related injury was serious
  • You have complications with your medical situation, such as preexisting conditions
  • Your employer or their insurance company dispute your workers' compensation claim
  • You have other legal considerations, such as the possibility of a separate lawsuit or you receive other government benefits like SSDI

And if any of these situations apply to you, you probably want to reach out to a workers' comp lawyer sooner rather than later. Many workers’ compensation attorneys offer free consultations which can be a helpful way for you to evaluate your best path forward.

What is the average settlement for a workers comp claim?

The average settlement for workers' comp claims is about $20,000. But this is just an average, and many people receive more, or less, for their claims.

Keep in mind that how much your workers' comp claim might settle for depends on several factors including the nature of your injury and the severity of your injury, as these will in turn greatly impact the extent of your medical bills or lost wages. (For instance, injuries requiring surgery are likely to lead to larger settlements).

The final word on how much a workers’ comp lawyer costs

Piggy bank and coins

There are three important things to know about how much a workers’ compensation lawyer costs.

First, there are generally no upfront workers' comp lawyer fees and you only pay if your case is successful since most workers' comp lawyers charge contingency fees.

Second, if your claim is successful, the worker's compensation attorney will usually get 10-20% of your award but this will depend on the laws in your state and factors including how complicated your case was.

Third, your workers' comp lawyer will receive their attorneys' fees directly from your award or your employer’s insurance company. As discussed, you may be responsible for some moderate costs including copying or postage expenses, but your fee agreement will cover who is responsible for paying these legal costs (and when).

If you've had a workplace injury and aren't sure whether you need legal representation, it may be worth speaking with an attorney for an initial consultation to help get your bearings on your workers' comp case figure out how to proceed.