Legal fees are one of the top reasons most injured workers feel hesitant about approaching Pennsylvania work comp lawyers. Most assume — incorrectly — that lawyers’ fees will be an added expense to injured workers who are already struggling with an uncertain financial future.
Many also wonder if it’s really a good idea to hire a work comp lawyer, and wouldn’t it be cheaper to just handle the case themselves.
Image Source: unsplash/Kenny Eliason
Actually, it won’t. The PA workers’ compensation system is a complex web of interlinked systems that can look like a maze to outsiders. A seasoned work injury attorney in Philadelphia knows how to navigate that system. If your goal is to save money, hiring an experienced work comp lawyer will help you more than you can imagine. seasoned PA work comp lawyer.
In this article, we are addressing some of the top concerns injured workers have when it comes to legal fees for workers’ compensation cases.
1. How Does My Lawyer Get Paid In A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case?
Legal fees for injured workers in Pennsylvania are contingent. The injured worker pays nothing out of pocket to get representation — unless the firm charges for litigation costs. The standard Fee Agreement in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case is 20% of the wage loss benefits.
The law does now permit a fee on medical benefits as well, but most firms are not doing this.
2. When Will My Lawyer Get Paid In My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case?
The award of a legal fee will come via Court Order from the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge. This Order can stem from one of many petitions — a Claim Petition, Penalty Petition, Review Petition, Petition to Terminate, Petition to Modify, a Petition to Suspend, and a Death Claim, etc.
Another common petition is a Petition Seeking Approval of a Compromise and Release, which is a settlement in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation. Without a Court Order, it’s not proper for workers’ comp lawyers in Pennsylvania to get paid.
3. Can My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney Get More Than 20%?
In most cases the answer is no.
The lawyer would need to make a showing of “good cause” as to why he or she is charging more than the standard 20%. In my 24 years of litigating Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation cases, I’ve seen it perhaps one time. So it is very rare.
4. If I Lose My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case, Do I Still Have To Pay My Lawyer?
No. If you lose, you should not be paying anything to your PA work injury lawyer unless they have litigation costs that you agreed to pay in the Fee Agreement. My firm, Cardamone Law, has never gone after a client for any litigation costs. Some law firms will do this. This is the nature of a contingent fee system — if you lose, there is no fee. If you win, 20% (typically) of the wage loss benefits go to the firm who was successful for you.
5. If I Switch Law Firms During My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case, How Does That Work?
Normally, the new firm will agree to present any litigation costs on behalf of your former law firm, so that they can get reimbursed with a successful outcome or settlement.
In terms of the fee, it depends. There may be a dispute about which firm gets paid, how much, and when. But the injured worker will only pay 20% total, so they don’t need to worry about paying one firm 20% and another firm 20% on top of that. That’s not how it works. The injured worker has a right to be comfortable with his or her lawyer, and sometimes switching firms is necessary to achieve this.
For more information about Legal Fees and Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation, call Certified Pennsylvania Work Comp Specialist, Attorney Michael W. Cardamone, Co-Chair of the Montgomery County, PA Workers’ Compensation Section at (215) 206-9068 or email Michael@CardamoneLaw.com