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When Do I Need a Lawyer for My Worker’s Compensation Claim?
If your workplace injuries are relatively minor and you expect to go back to work at your current place of employment, with your current job, and you do not expect your workplace injury to result in permanent loss of bodily function or an inability to do your job, you may not need to hire an attorney.
For example, if you suffered an uncomplicated injury at work and the workers’ comp insurance company paid your medical bills and a weekly benefit for the time you’ve been off work, and now your doctor has released you to go back to work without limitations and you feel completely healed, you probably don’t need to contact an attorney. But if you don’t feel that you are completely healed, or you aren’t comfortable signing a settlement with your workers’ comp insurance company (that will probably require you to give up any future rights to compensation or medical care for your injury), we suggest you arrange for a free consultation.
A skilled attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law will be able to advocate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the medical care and workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. In addition, if your injury may keep you from working permanently, a lawyer can advise you about filing for Social Security disability benefits as well.
If any of the following are true for you, you should schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with as soon as possible.
- Your workplace injuries are severe enough to require surgery.
- Your injuries are severe enough that your life will be permanently altered, either because of permanent bodily impairment or a change in ability to work. If you and your doctor believe your health won’t return to the condition it was prior to your injury, you may be entitled to a “permanent partial disability” award.
- You believe you are no longer able to work on a regular basis in any job.
- You believe you cannot go back to work at your current job, but believe you could work in some capacity.
- You have significant preexisting disabilities.
- If any aspect of your claim is in dispute with your employer, or your employer’s insurance company, or your state’s workers’ compensation division. The dispute process is highly legal, involving complex rules and procedures that a lawyer can help you navigate.
- You believe you are not receiving the correct benefits, or wonder if there are additional benefits you could receive.
- Your medical benefits are denied.
- You do not understand the workers’ comp process and would feel more comfortable if an expert were representing your interests.
Regardless of the circumstances of your workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to obtain an attorney.
Learn more about Workers’ Compensations Benefits you may be entitled to.
Request a Free Consultation
Andrus Law Firm, PLC offers free consultations to discuss your workers’ compensation claim. The consultation is 30-60 minutes long and can be conducted in person or over the phone.
We will discuss your claim, determine if you need representation and be honest regarding your chances of success if you are considering appealing an adverse decision.
Speaking to us sooner, rather than later, can ensure that your claim is on the right track from the beginning. It is much easier for us to gather the evidence and get your claim moving in the right direction early on, than to play ‘catch up’ once it is already in litigation.
Workers Comp Attorney Fees and Costs
Workers are usually represented by attorneys who are paid on the basis of a contingent percentage fee. The worker is not ordinarily required to pay any fee or monies when he or she hires the attorney. Instead the attorney agrees to accept as his or her fee a percentage of the amount the attorney recovers for the worker. If there is no recovery, the attorney does not receive any fee.
Ordinarily the attorney will pay the costs of preparing the case for trial. This often involves a considerable amount of money to pay doctors for reports and examinations and to pay court reporters. If there is a recovery of money for the worker, this amount is deducted first to reimburse the attorney for the monies he or she has paid out. Then the attorney charges a percentage fee on the remaining amount of money that is recovered. The attorney is allowed to base the fee on all workers’ compensation benefits that have been recovered for the worker up to the time the case is concluded. The attorney is not permitted to charge a fee on benefits that are paid in the future.
For example, if a worker has three months of benefits owing at the time he goes to see the attorney, the attorney files a petition, takes medical testimony, attends a mediation or a pretrial, and eventually takes part in a trial, one year might go by between the time the case is filed and the time of trial. At this point there would be 15 months of benefits payable. If the worker is completely successful, the magistrate would order the payment of those 15 months of past due benefits plus benefits indefinitely in the future. The attorney would base his or her fee on the 15 months of past due benefits.
If there was an appeal to the Appellate Commission, this might take another year. During the time of the appeal the worker would receive 70 percent of the benefits ordered by the magistrate. If the worker wins, at the time the case is concluded the attorney is entitled to charge a fee based on all of the benefits owing up to that date. This includes the 70 percent benefits that the worker received while the case was on appeal.
If the worker wins the case as the result of a trial and/or an appeal, or if benefits are paid as the result of a voluntary payment, the attorney is entitled to charge a maximum fee of 30 percent of the benefits received. The maximum attorney fee, however, cannot be based upon a rate of benefits that is higher than two-thirds of the state average weekly wage. This means that if the worker is receiving the maximum benefit which would be 90 percent of the state average weekly wage, the attorney must calculate his or her fee as if the worker was only receiving an amount equal to two-thirds of the state average weekly wage.
If the case is resolved through a redemption settlement, the amount paid in a lump sum is usually higher. This is because a redemption settlement usually involves some payment for the future. Accordingly, lawyers are limited to smaller fees in those cases. If the case is settled before a trial is completed, the fee is limited to 15 percent of the amount of the settlement if it is for less than $25,000. If the settlement is for more than $25,000, the maximum fee is 15 percent of the first $25,000 and 10 percent of the amount over that. If a trial has been held and completed and the case is later settled through a redemption, the attorney is entitled to a fee of 20 percent.
In redemption, the magistrate will examine a statement of the fees provided by the attorney. In any case, the director of the Bureau of Workers’ Disability Compensation has the authority to review any disputes concerning attorney fees.
Source: Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services, and Bureau of Workers’ & Unemployment Compensation. An Overview of Workers’ Compensation in Michigan. Lansing: 2002.
If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (810) 694-3006 and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions.
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