How Do Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Get Paid?

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    After a workplace accident left you injured, you might ask yourself, “Do I need an injury lawyer or a workers’ comp lawyer?” Perhaps unknown to you and others, this question goes beyond the need for legal representation in pursuing compensation. Usually, the bigger concern is how to pay a workers’ compensation lawyer if you decide to hire one.

    Workplace injuries can have devastating consequences. They can leave you and your family with mounting medical bills, lost wages, and pain and emotional turmoil. California workers are granted the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits to recover from these losses.

    Unfortunately, asserting this right can be tricky and complicated, especially when you have understandably little to zero legal knowledge and experience. Your employer and the insurance company may deny or question the validity of your injury claim. And even if you manage to secure their approval, they might still pay you less than you deserve.

    Considering all these factors, you‘ll want to hire a good personal injury attorney to fight for your rights. You may have some questions you’d want to know that can help you pick the best option. However, in many cases we’ve handled, an employee’s usual concern is knowing how these workers’ compensation lawyers get paid. This question is frequently asked mainly, because it also touches on whether their prospective lawyer would have their best interests at heart.

    How Much Do Workers’ Comp Lawyers Charge In California?

    Most lawyers specializing in workers’ compensation work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid when they successfully secure compensation for their clients. If they lose, they don’t get paid. This incentivizes them to work hard to secure the maximum settlement on behalf of their client.

    Depending on various factors, workers’ comp lawyers usually get a certain percentage of the settlement or award, ranging from 9% to 15%. This is much lower than what personal injury attorneys charge, which is typically between 33% and 40%.

    They don’t usually take from the total amount. They are only entitled to charge attorneys’ fees for workers’ compensation cases on the following:

    • Cash-only permanent disability benefits
    • Any cash you receive to pay for future medical costs
    • Any retroactive temporary disability payments owed to you (payments that you were supposed to receive sooner but didn’t)
    • Any fines that your employer or insurer is required to pay you for:
    • Failure to pay benefits
    • Participation in significant and intentional wrongdoing
    • Workplace discrimination against you for filing a claim
    • Failure to pay on time

    A workers’ compensation judge may also impose a fee on temporary disability benefits if your attorney has to go to trial and the judge decides the fee is justified.

    How Do The Lawyers Get Paid From The Workers’ Compensation Claim?

    It’s important to note that workers’ comp lawyers do not directly deduct their fees from the amount they have secured for you. Instead, they follow a legal process to receive the payment they’re owed after the resolution of your workers’ compensation case.

    The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board will first have to approve the attorney’s fees after considering the following factors:

    • The responsibility assumed by the attorney
    • Care exercised in representing the client
    • Time involved
    • Results obtained

    Basically, it all boils down to how good of a job your attorney did in representing you. If they performed exceptionally well, they might earn a higher percentage.

    Factors That Affect Lawyer Fees For Worker Compensation

    The percentage that workers’ comp lawyers might charge varies according to different factors, such as:

    Complexity Of Your Case

    If your case is relatively straightforward, the lawyer may have lower fees. Otherwise, they might earn more for complex cases involving highly disputed facts, lengthy hearings, extensive investigation, multiple employers, and challenging legal aspects.

    For example, workplace fire accidents are usually complicated and require a thorough investigation. They also often lead to catastrophic injuries, so accident attorneys who handle workplace-related cases might charge a higher rate.

    The Stage Of Your Claim

    Hiring a worker’s comp attorney at the initial stages of filing a claim is typically less expensive. On the other hand, if you have already filed your claim or want to appeal a denied claim, they might charge a higher rate.

    Taking over the claims process in the later stages involves more legal work. Correcting mistakes made earlier in the process demands more time and effort from the lawyer. They could have ensured everything was done correctly if they had been involved initially.

    The Lawyer’s Experience And Reputation

    Generally, Workers’ comp and personal injury lawyers in California with more experience handling and winning similar cases have higher rates. Additionally, those who specialize in these claims may have higher fees than those who practice other areas of law.

    Do Lawyers Charge Initial Consultation Fees?

    Do Lawyers Charge Initial Consultation Fees?

    Like most California injury attorneys, workers’ compensation attorneys normally charge zero fees for an initial consultation. It’s a great opportunity to receive expert legal guidance without upfront costs or other financial obligations.

    Law firms usually arrange meetings with potential clients like you at your suggested locations. You can personally talk with their legal team in any of their offices across California, at your home, or in local coffee shops. If you don’t prefer face-to-face meetings, lawyers can assess your workers’ compensation case over the phone or via teleconference to make things as convenient as possible. They can also customize your first meeting according to your requested schedule.

    During this consultation, workers’ comp lawyers will listen to your situation. This is also the best time to ask questions and voice your concerns. In order to determine whether your case has more merit, they will review legal grounds that apply to your situation as well as any key evidence about the accident.

    For example, they might suggest you file a personal injury claim if the accident involves negligence by a third party. They will give you the facts and their professional opinion to help you determine your next steps.

    If you don’t find the accident attorneys’ assistance beneficial, you’re not obliged to hire their services. Hence, you don’t need to pay them anything at all.

    Does The Insurance Company Cover Attorney Fees?

    In some cases, the insurance company will be required to pay a portion of the attorney’s fees. These fees are paid directly to the workplace injury lawyer and don’t come from the claimant’s pockets or compensation. This is likely to happen if your benefits are not paid within the specified time range or if they deny your claim without adequate legal grounds, and you have to get an attorney as a result.

    The insurance company is also typically required to pay for the following expenses:

    Deposition Fees

    In a deposition, the injured undergoes questioning under oath outside the courtroom. The parties agree on a date and venue, fill out any appropriate forms, create copies, and serve all relevant individuals with documents. They must come prepared with question outlines and remain professional throughout. After the session, the court reporter drafts a transcript, which the deponent and other parties concerned will review and approve.

    If the company initiates it to obtain your sworn statement, it will be required to pay for your lawyer’s time spent preparing for and attending the deposition. It’s also responsible for paying non-party witnesses for their travel expenses, witness fees, and salaries for public employees.

    Depositions could cost several hundred dollars or more, depending on the circumstances. The longer the deposition lasts and the more the stenographer has to type, the higher the cost. The fees are covered by the employer’s insurance and have no bearing on the amount of the employee’s compensation.

    Medical-Legal Fees

    If the employer or its insurance company wants to dispute the worker’s injuries, they will have to cover the costs of any additional evaluation and expenses the worker might incur. These medical-legal expenses might include diagnostic tests and interpreter services, if needed.

    The insurer will also have to pay for the services billed by a qualified medical examiner or QME, such as:

    • Comprehensive Medical-Legal Evaluation
    • Follow-up Medical-Legal Evaluation
    • Supplemental Medical-Legal Evaluation
    • Medical-Legal Testimony
    • Sub Rosa Review
    • Missed Appointment

    The results from these tests will help prove your injuries. However, what if it results in an unfavorable outcome, causing the insurer to deny your claim? If you disagree with the QME’s report, contact a personal injury attorney who handles workers’ comp cases.

    Is It Worth Getting a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Specializing in Personal Injury Law?

    Employers may not always have their employees’ best interests in mind. In contrast, a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney will safeguard the employee’s rights and legal interests. It’s worth hiring injury attorneys, whether for worker’s comp or personal injury cases, to help you with the following:

    Is It Worth It To Get A Personal Injury Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

    • Navigating Claims—Your lawyer will manage the filing process and paperwork. They can clarify complicated legal procedures and guide you through California’s intricate workers’ comp system. This helps you avoid common mistakes, such as missing deadlines, that can delay or derail your case.
    • Handling Denials—If your claim is denied, you’ll benefit from having good injury attorneys on your side. They can identify any discrepancies in your medical report or omissions by the insurance company and then build a solid case for your appeal.
    • Communicating & Negotiating—Your lawyer coordinates with your healthcare providers to obtain detailed information about your condition. They will deal with the insurance companies to advocate for your claim’s proper evaluation.
    • Maximizing Benefits—An injury attorney handling workers’ compensation cases can help you get the most possible. They know how to value your claim accurately and tailor a strategy that enhances your chances of securing a favorable outcome.
    • Representing You—In trials and depositions, you need an attorney to represent you. They will help you prepare for these processes and advocate for your rights before a judge.
    • Helping You Recover—Going through the claims process is stressful, especially while recovering from injuries. Your lawyer will take on the burden, allowing you to focus on healing.

    You must find the right accident lawyer to work on your workers’ compensation claim. Look for a compassionate personal injury law firm that represents individuals injured in their workplace.

    Workers Compensation Vs. Personal Injury Claims

    You might wonder whether you should file a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim if you have been injured at work. While both types of claims are related, they have significant differences. Getting compensation for your injuries requires understanding these differences.

    What Are Workers’ Compensation Claims?

    Qualified employees injured or ill due to their work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Some workplace accidents and situations that lead to claims are:

    Workplace violence may also be included, and employment lawyers can handle such cases.

    This policy operates on a no-fault system, meaning workers can receive benefits without proving liability. Even undocumented workers have the right to file a claim. However, it might not apply to farm workers, independent contractors, day laborers, etc.

    The catch is that employees can’t usually sue their employers for negligence. They waive their right to sue in exchange for workers’ compensation benefits.

    Damages You Can Claim In Workers’ Comp Cases

    Damages You Can Claim In Workers’ Comp Cases

    A significant difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury settlements is the available damages to victims. Aside from medical bills, the following damages may be included in workers’ comp claims:

    • Ongoing medical care costs
    • A portion of their lost wages
    • Vocational rehabilitation
    • Death benefits

    Compensation can also cover expenses related to complications arising from the initial injuries. These can significantly increase the total award, as in the $11.25 million worker’s comp case handled by Tina Eshghieh, Esq.

    However, the amount and duration of these benefits are usually limited. These costs are usually outside the standard fee agreement with your legal team. It’s a good idea to ask your workers’ comp attorney how they will handle reimbursement after winning your case.

    What Are Personal Injury Claims?

    Personal injury claims compensate individuals injured due to the negligence of others. In California, these cases are fault-based. This means the victims are required to establish the at-fault party’s negligence to receive monetary reparation. They can also sue the liable party or their insurance company for damages.

    Contrary to common misconceptions, personal injury cases don’t only include car accidents. They also cover dog bites, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents.

    In the context of workplace injuries, the injured employee may consult with a personal injury lawyer to see if they have the option to pursue legal action against parties other than their employer. These third parties can include co-workers, contractors, equipment manufacturers, and others who might have been negligent.

    Some work-related cases that injury lawyers handle are:

    If you think there’s more to your workplace accident, you can seek the assistance of an injury lawyer. They can assess your legal options and advise you on the next steps to take.

    Damages You Can Claim In Personal Injury Cases

    You can recover more damages in a personal injury claim than workers’ comp. In addition to the medical expenses and lost wages, you can claim compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-financial losses. Family members can also file claims for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones.

    Furthermore, personal injury claims do not have a limit on the amount of damages that can be recovered. It’s best to talk to injury attorneys to know the full scope of your damages.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
    What Is The Average California Workers’ Comp Settlement?

    The average value of workers’ compensation settlements in California is around $2,000 to $20,000. It varies wildly, depending on the severity of the injury, the worker’s wages, and the type of accident. Employees who sustain much more serious injuries, like amputations, can expect to receive higher compensation than those who suffer from minor bodily injuries, like small cuts or bruises.

    Can The IRS Take My Workers’ Comp Settlement?

    The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t generally take workers’ compensation settlements if you owe back taxes. According to Section 6334 of the U.S. Code, any amount payable as workers’ compensation is exempt from levy. Furthermore, these benefits are not taxable in most cases, like with personal injury settlements.

    What Are 5710 Fees? Will They Affect My Worker’s Comp Settlement?

    The term “5710 fee” comes from Section 5710 of the California Labor Code, which provides a reasonable allowance to the claimant’s attorney in a deposition. The worker’s comp insurance provider directly pays these fees to the attorney instead of the injured worker. These fees are not deducted from the employee’s settlement value.

    Does Surgery Increase The Workers Comp Settlement Value In California?

    Getting or needing surgery will likely entitle you to a higher amount. In general, the higher the expenses you incur for your work-related injury, the higher your workers’ comp settlement. However, the actual value will differ based on the surgery type. For instance, surgical procedures involving the spine can be more expensive due to their complexity and the longer recovery period.

    Does Workers Comp Pay For Pain And Suffering In California?

    Workers’ compensation doesn’t pay for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses, such as depression and loss of purpose. However, you might be able to pursue these damages through a personal injury claim. You can consult with a good personal injury attorney to see if you have a valid case for a third-party lawsuit.

    Here’s an example scenario: You were cleaning the parking lot at your workplace as a part of your job’s duties when a speeding car hit you. As a result, you sustained whiplash and traumatic brain injuries. In this case, you may be eligible for both workers’ comp from your employer and a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. The latter would allow you to pursue non-economic damages, including the psychological effects of your brain injury, with the help of a qualified brain injury lawyer.

    Do All Workers’ Comp Cases End In A Settlement In California?

    Most workers’ comp cases end in a settlement either through a lump sum agreement or weekly payments. You should be able to receive compensation if you are hurt at work or develop an illness due to your duties or environmental hazards.

    That said, there are certain situations where workers’ compensation will not legally apply, such as if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, roughhousing, or injured outside your scope of work at the time of the incident. Some examples of situations that are not covered are:

    If your case should make you eligible for workers’ comp, but the claims administrator is refusing a settlement, you can take them to court. You’ll need a personal injury attorney specializing in workplace accidents to represent you.

    Can I Collect Unemployment After Workers’ Comp Settlement In California?

    If you’re on workers’ comp, you likely either have a temporary or permanent disability that makes you unable to work and, therefore, unqualified for unemployment. As part of the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance, you must be physically able to work and willing to accept work immediately.

    Furthermore, if you signed a voluntary resignation as part of the settlement deal, you might not qualify for unemployment benefits.

    Can You Work While On Workers’ Comp In California?

    California workers’ compensation usually bars employees from working. The main purpose of these benefits is to provide income to those who can’t return to their job temporarily or permanently due to illness or injury. If you take on another job, you could lose these benefits since the state might consider you to be well enough to work. Moreover, you could even get into legal trouble, as it might seem like you misrepresented your condition.

    However, it’s not entirely impossible to work in some capacity, whether in a part-time or reduced role. Still, your medical care team will have to clear you to work. Your employer must also be willing to accommodate your needs, such as by purchasing new equipment or assigning you new job duties.

    Worker’s Compensation Cases Our Attorneys Won For Clients

    Over the years, our workers’ compensation attorneys have helped countless clients recover financially through aggressive representation. Here are some of our most notable cases:

    • $11,250,000 – Our client endured a four-story fall from an elevator shaft, resulting in severe traumatic brain injury, broken ribs, a fractured jaw, and numerous other internal and orthopedic injuries. Due to the extent of his injuries, we secured a settlement of $11.25 million for him. The structured settlement includes a lump-sum payment of $500,000, followed by monthly payments of $33,000 for the rest of his life.
    • $6,500,000  – After falling off a roof, our client suffered a mild traumatic brain injury and a spinal cord injury. Initially, his employer denied liability, claiming he was not working within the scope of his employment but as a favor. We took the case to trial and secured justice. Upon establishing liability, we arranged for our client’s in-patient rehabilitation. We negotiated a $5.89 million workers’ compensation settlement and a $610,000 third-party settlement, providing him with the resources for recovery.
    • $6,000,000  – A young roofing contractor fell through a defective skylight at a commercial building. The case involved complex legal issues, especially with the defendants invoking the Privette doctrine as a defense. Despite these challenges, Benny Khorsandi, Esq. and his team successfully secured a $6 million settlement for our deserving client.
    • $5,250,000  – In this tragic case, our client became paraplegic after being struck by an inattentive driver. We achieved the maximum policy limit settlement of $5.25 million. Additionally, we secured extra workers’ compensation benefits from the client’s employer, as he was working at the time of the incident. We managed both cases to ensure a smooth resolution for our client.
    • $2,000,000 – Our client, a 19-year-old farm worker, was injured by customized farm equipment while working in the fields. Although he still has an ongoing workers’ compensation case, we secured the maximum settlement against the custom farm equipment manufacturer in a product liability case.

    Talk to California’s Trusted Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

    If you’ve recently suffered a workplace injury in California, turn to Arash Law. Our record-setting workers’ comp attorneys specialize in handling work-related injury claims, diligently fighting to secure the compensation you deserve. Our experienced litigation team will represent you in court to ensure a successful outcome for your case.

    Attorney fees should never be a barrier when coping with the aftermath of a workplace injury. At our acclaimed firm, we fully understand the financial strain such injuries can cause. That’s why you’ll never face out-of-pocket payments to our injury lawyers. We operate strictly on a contingency fee basis, which means our compensation is tied directly to the successful resolution of your case. We only succeed when you do!

    Call us at (888) 488-1391 for your complimentary initial consultation.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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