Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.
After a workplace injury, as you start to navigate the workers’ compensation process, you may be wondering if you should hire a lawyer. And while you might worry a lawyer will cost too much, data shows they can actually help maximize your benefits by getting you higher payouts than you’d get on your own.
To help you weigh the benefits of a workers’ comp lawyer, we’ll break down the basics of lawyer fees, including how much they charge, when they collect, and situations when they could be worth it for you.
Workers’ comp lawyer fees
Most workers’ comp lawyers charge a fee that's a percentage of your benefits or settlement payment, and that fee is usually between 10% and 20%. You only have to pay them if they help you win benefits or a settlement.
However, fees vary by state. Each state sets its own workers’ comp laws, including the maximum legal fees an attorney can charge. In certain states, fees are set dollar amounts instead of percentages. Massachusetts workers’ comp lawyers earn specific amounts instead of percentages, depending on which services they provided.
If you win weekly benefits instead of a settlement, it’s also possible for lawyers to charge their fee for your back benefits (wages already lost because of missed work time) as well as some of your future benefits.
Before a lawyer can get paid, a judge has to approve the lawyer’s fee and ensure it follows state regulations. This helps protect you from any wrong-doing on the lawyer’s side.
The lawyer’s check is usually paid through your employer’s insurance company, and it comes out before you receive your benefits. This way, you’re not responsible for sending the lawyer's payment yourself.
Think you might want a workers’ comp lawyer? Fill out our 2-minute workers’ comp quiz and an Atticus team member will reach out to see if a lawyer could be a good fit for you. (Our services are always free.)
Does a lawyer’s fee change if I receive a settlement?
No, it doesn’t. Whether you get your workers’ comp benefits as a lump-sum settlement or smaller payments over time, the lawyer will collect the same percentage fee. The exception might be in states like Illinois where lawyers can earn a larger fee if they specifically help you earn a higher settlement than one you were already offered.
Can I negotiate workers’ comp lawyer fees?
While most lawyers won’t negotiate their fees, it’s possible that some are open to this conversation. Be sure to do all negotiating before you sign any contract to hire that lawyer. Whatever final percentage is in the signed contract is what you’ll pay at the end of your case.
State-by-state workers’ comp lawyer fees
Since workers’ compensation varies by state, below is a look at how lawyers fees compare in some states.
20% maximum but potentially higher if there’s an appeal (up to 35% in rare cases)
20% maximum but if your employer offers you a settlement and you reject it, and then you get a lawyer who wins you a larger settlement, the lawyer can charge more than 20% for the extra amount they’ve earned you
No legal cap but many lawyers charge 15% for settlements and awards of back benefits plus 15% of future benefits for a max of 10 weeks
Other costs with a workers’ comp lawyer
There are a few extra fees that a lawyer may charge you. In many cases you still don't pay these fees unless you win your case. At that point, they come out of your final payment along with the main lawyers’ fee. If you do need to pay these fees up front, make sure the lawyer provides receipts and returns any unspent funds. The initial agreement you sign with the lawyer should explain all additional fees, so make sure to read it carefully.
Here are other fees a workers’ comp lawyer may charge:
The cost to copy medical records, including search fees, page fees, evidence fees, and others — some states set a maximum fee while states such as Alaska and Idaho mandate that there is no charge to claimants
Lawyer travel costs, such as mileage to get to hearings
Independent consultations or medical exams the lawyer sets up for you
What shouldn’t cost money is your initial consultation. Most lawyers don’t charge for the initial meeting to discuss your case and none of the lawyers in the Atticus network do.
4 reasons you might want a workers’ comp lawyer
Oftentimes the complexity of the workers’ comp system or an unexpected issue — like your employer denying your claim — may leave you looking for some help.
Workers’ comp lawyers can help you navigate the entire process, from staying on top of filing deadlines to communicating with insurance companies, doctors, and the state. Studies also show that payouts for workers’ with lawyers are five times higher than without a lawyer.
Here are a few examples of when a lawyer can support you:
If you need help understanding the process: Lawyers are experts in your state’s laws and can guide you each step of the way.
If you’re unhappy with your payout: When your payments or settlement is less than expected, a lawyer can help you appeal and maximize your potential benefits.
If your employer is uncooperative: It’s common for employers or their insurance companies to be uncooperative or move too slowly on your claim. A lawyer can help push them forward to drive a positive outcome.
If your claim is denied: Any time your workers’ compensation claim is denied, reach out to a lawyer. They’ll help you appeal and work to get you the benefits you deserve.
If you need to attend a hearing: Sometimes you’ll need to attend a hearing to either appeal a denial or to provide additional evidence of your injury. A lawyer can gather evidence and represent you at the hearing so you can get a favorable decision.
To make your search easier, Atticus has vetted lawyers from across the country and built a trusted network of experienced attorneys. To get matched with a workers’ comp lawyer near you, start with our free quiz. We’ll reach out to learn more about your situation and pair you with someone who’s a fit for your case.
Maximize your workers' comp benefits.
Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp lawyers
Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?
Not everyone needs to work with a lawyer, but a workers’ comp lawyer can especially help if your claim is denied or after you get a settlement offer. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve collected some situations when a workers’ comp lawyer can help.
How much does a workers' comp lawyer cost?
Lawyer fees vary by state, but you can expect a workers’ comp lawyer fee about 15% of your final settlement or benefits payments. And while that can be a lot, the average settlement is also five times higher for people who have a lawyer versus people who don’t. Learn more on lawyer fees.
What does a workers’ comp lawyer do that I can’t?
A local lawyer is well-versed in your state’s laws, so they’ll know how to avoid payment delays, maximize your medical coverage, and negotiate higher payments or a bigger settlement. They can help even if you never get denied or experience a serious issue. Here’s more on what a workers’ comp lawyer actually does.
How to find the best workers’ comp lawyer
There are some key questions you should ask any lawyer before hiring them, like how much they charge, whether they have experience with similar cases, and how they communicate with clients throughout the process. Learn more in our guide to finding a good workers’ comp lawyer.
Can I change my workers’ comp lawyer?
You can fire your workers’ comp lawyer and hire a new one. Talk with your lawyer first, though. You may still have to pay them for some expenses and sometimes issues like slow responses or long wait times are the result of misunderstandings. But if your lawyer just isn’t working out, you have options. Atticus can match you with a local lawyer who will make your case a priority. Fill out our 3-minute workers’ comp quiz to learn more.
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Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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