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If You Are Injured and Cannot Work, How Can You Afford a Workers’ Comp Attorney?

Workers with limited finances can still acquire quality legal representation in a workers’ compensation claim. Law firms take workers' compensation clients on a contingency fee basis. Firms handle workers' compensation cases in a way that is similar to personal injury cases — meaning the lawyer must win the case or there is no fee. The fee is a percentage of the compensation benefits received.

Under California case law, attorney fees are subject to appeals board approval. In fact, only the Appeals Board has authority to approve legal fees in workers' compensation proceedings. The Appeals Board decides and requires the following:

  • What constitutes a reasonable fee
  • Submission of fee agreements within 10 days after making an attorney client agreement
  • Disclosure forms provided by attorneys during the initial consultation
  • Disclosure forms that cover the range of attorney fees traditionally approved by the appeals board

Typically, judges approve fees that are in the range of 15 percent and base the percentage on case complexity. The criteria for calculating an attorney's fees includes factors such as whether the case:

  • Revolves around new or obscure laws
  • Involves highly disputed factual issues, or requires extensive investigation, prospective witness questioning and lengthy hearings
  • Involves controversial medical matters
  • Must be brought against multiple defendants

When injuries are severe and lead to substantial financial losses, it is wise to put a skilled lawyer on your side. Attorneys who focus on workers' comp cases know how the system works and can avoid or overcome obstacles by presenting your case in a favorable light.

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