These are the common legal fees you can expect to pay in Arizona when pursuing a workers’ comp claim
Hiring an attorney can be stressful.
Something you don’t want to deal with is finding out how much a workers’ comp lawyer costs when you’ve been injured at work. Although attorneys are indeed expensive, it’s a lot more affordable to hire a workers’ comp attorney than you might think.
Most states protect injured workers by limiting how much lawyers can charge for these specific cases. It’s very common not to have to pay the lawyer unless you win the case, too, which makes it a pretty risk-free prospect.
Most workers’ compensation attorneys within Arizona, including here at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, charge a contingency fee. This means that you don’t need to come up with a large amount of money to pay for the attorney to represent you in court. Instead, these lawyers handle your case and only get paid if they win the claim.
When dealing with a workers’ compensation fee, you can expect an attorney to take 25 percent of whatever benefits you receive. If an attorney charges an hourly rate or requests more than 25 percent, we suggest looking for a different one.
Free initial consultation
Furthermore, many workers’ compensation lawyers offer a free consultation. This is done to discuss whether or not you have a possible claim that they would like to take on. Keep in mind that just because 1 attorney doesn’t want to take on your case, doesn’t mean others won’t. It’s beneficial to book a few consultations from different lawyers, as this gives you a variety of attorneys to choose from.
Caps on workers’ comp attorneys’ fees in Arizona
In Arizona, like many states, there is a cap on the amount an attorney can charge for representing you.
Arizona restricts workers’ compensation lawyers from charging more than 25 percent in contingency fees.
According to AZ Rev Stat § 23-1069 (2016):
“The attorney’s fee provided for in subsection A shall be not more than twenty-five per cent up to ten years from the date of the award. In cases involving solely loss of earning capacity, the maximum shall be twenty-five per cent up to five years from the date of the final award. When the payment of the award to the claimant is made in installments, or in other than a lump sum manner, in no event may an amount in excess of twenty-five per cent of any one such installment payment be withheld for the attorney’s fee.”
However, there is an exception to this rule.
In some circumstances, the maximum contingency fee can be increased to a percentage higher than 25. This depends on how the case is ultimately resolved, such as being resolved before or after a workers’ compensation hearing.
Deciding how much of the lawyer’s contingency fee is given as payment for their services is determined in various ways. The types of benefits received in the settlement and the size of the award play a significant role. An example of this is if a lawyer takes 20 percent of the first $5,000 award or settlement. However, they can only receive 15 percent of the remainder.
Fees must be approved by the ICA
Any workers’ compensation attorneys based in Arizona need to have their fees approved by the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA). If you win your claim, it’s your lawyer’s responsibility to submit their fee for approval. A workers’ comp judge decides whether or not to grant this fee.
Generally speaking, it’s illegal for a lawyer to receive payment without permission from the ICA first.
According to AZ Rev Stat § 23-1069 (2016):
“In proceedings before the commission in which an attorney employed by the claimant has rendered services reasonably necessary in processing the claim, the commission shall, upon application filed by the attorney or the claimant prior to a final disposition of the case, set a reasonable attorney’s fee and shall provide for the payment thereof from the award, in installments or otherwise, as the commission determines proper in view of the award made, and shall further provide for the payment of the attorney’s fee direct to the attorney. The commission shall charge the amount of the payment against the award to the claimant.”
Arizona law permits workers’ compensation claimants and their attorneys to file a petition, prior to a final disposition of the case, requesting that the ICA set reasonable attorney’s fees related to a workers’ compensation claim.
An ICA judge considers several factors before deciding whether the fee is appropriate, such as:
- Time restrictions on your case
- Average rates lawyers charge in your particular area
- Results your lawyer helped you receive
- How complicated your case was
- The effort and time that was taken by the lawyer
- What qualifications and skills your attorney has
If the judge finds the attorney’s fee reasonable and within the state of Arizona’s limits, nothing is stopping the judge from granting it. However, if the sum seems unreasonable, it’s the judge’s right to come up with a more appropriate fee.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
Other applicable legal fees
There may be separate workers’ comp legal fees that you are liable for, whether or not you win the case. Nonetheless, if you’re unable to pay these fees upfront, some attorneys agree to deduct them from your award or settlement.
Moreover, you may be lucky enough to have a lawyer who may waive all these costs if you don’t win your case. However, this isn’t always the case, so you can still be liable to pay them. These are expenses that your lawyer incurs from bettering your case. Examples include copying medical records, the cost of filing documents or hiring expert witnesses to testify at your workers’ comp hearing, such as a doctor or industry expert.
Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Arizona work injury lawyer
Scheduling an initial consultation with a lawyer is an excellent way to analyze your case and see if it’s worth taking it on. They should give you a more accurate idea of what fees the prospective attorney charges.
Every attorney and law firm is different in what they charge. That is why scheduling a consultation before hiring a lawyer is highly recommended. Moreover, we highly advise that you take a thorough look at the lawyer’s fee agreement before signing it.