How much does a workers' compensation lawyer cost?

Workers’ compensation lawyers generally work on a contingency basis, which means that they get paid a percentage of your award if - and only if - your application is successful.

evident Editorial Team
December 2, 2021
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 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.

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, their fee is 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. 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 attorney’s fees are approved, the workers’ comp 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 lawyer is not paid until your claim succeeds.

Lawyer’s Fees vs. Legal Costs

Separate from the lawyer’s fees, though, there could be some incidental costs associated with your case. Some legal costs that may be associated with your case include:

  • Fees for filing documents with the court
  • Costs for postage or making copies
  • 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 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.

The final word on workers’ comp lawyer fees

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

First, there are generally no upfront fees and you only pay if your case is successful.

Second, if your claim is successful, the cost will usually be 10-20% of your award but will depend on the laws in your state and factors including how complicated your case was.

And third, your lawyer will receive their 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).