21 Oct, 2022

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney?

Author Todd A. Strong

Most workers’ comp attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency agreement is an agreement you have with your attorney in which you do not pay any fees upfront, and only pay if your attorney is successful.

business people and lawyers discussing contract papers sitting at the table. Concepts of law, advice, legal services. in morning light
business people and lawyers discussing contract papers sitting at the table. Concepts of law, advice, legal services. in morning light

In most cases, it won’t cost you anything upfront to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. You won’t pay your attorney fees until you win your case. Your attorney will typically only charge a fee if you are successful in your claim.

What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation is insurance offers financial protection to employers who get injured in a workplace accident. It covers employees who are injured while in the course of their employment and covers work-related injuries. It is a no-fault-based system which takes the place of personal injury claims that otherwise would have to be pursued against an employer. Most employees working in Illinois are covered from the moment they begin their jobs. 

Workers’ compensation will reimburse you for workplace injuries. This typically includes, but is not limited to, slip and fall, collisions with objects, overexertion, or injuries acquired from repetitive motion. It allows you to claim for medical expenses, a portion of your lost income, future expenses including long-term medical care, rehabilitation, and future lost income.

Workers' compensation is an area of law with unique rules and procedures different to those of personal injury claims. Because of this, there are lots of procedures to follow in having a successful claim. If there is a problem, and your claim is denied, or lower than what you think your compensation should be, your attorney can help get you fair compensation. 

What Is the Cost to Hire a Workers' Comp Attorney?

Most workers’ comp attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency agreement is an agreement you have with your attorney in which you do not pay any fees upfront, and only pay if your attorney is successful.

Your attorney will represent you in attempting to get you compensation from a workers' compensation settlement agreement or by trial. Under this type of agreement, if your attorney is unsuccessful, then he or she will not be entitled to any fees. If your attorney is successful, the fees are a percentage of the compensation that you recover. This is a set percentage, regardless of how much work your attorney does. This percentage that your attorney takes from your compensation is what is called a contingency fee.

You will be able to consult with your attorney and discuss the case as much as you need; the fee is a set amount. The number of consultations or any other work does not affect the fees taken from your compensation received.

The fees are collected by your attorney upon your receiving your compensation. Under this type of agreement, you do not pay fees to your attorney before receiving compensation, so there should not generally be any out-of-pocket costs to you. Most attorneys will not charge for the initial consultation, either. Because of this, there usually will not be any upfront cost to hiring a workers’ comp attorney.

How Much Are Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees in Illinois?

So, how much Bloomington workers’ compensation lawyers fees are in Illinois?

In Illinois, the percentage contingency fee that attorneys are allowed to charge is set by law at 20% of your compensation. There may be some situations where you may pay less than this, and even certain situations where you will not pay at all.

Aside from the situations where you do not pay at all, there are other situations where your attorney can charge a fee, but this fee is less than 20% of the amount of compensation that you receive from settlement or trial. This is in instances where you suffer TTD. The attorneys’ fees are capped at 20% of TTD payments for seven years. Even if you receive more than seven years’ worth of TTD payments, your attorney is only permitted to charge the contingency fee of 20% for seven years’ worth.

As an employee, the rate of compensation that you are entitled to receive for TTD is two-thirds of your average weekly wage. For example, if your wage is $3000 per week, and you suffer a TTD, then your TTD is two-thirds of your wages, which is $2,000 per week. This amounts to $104,000 per year and $728,000 for seven years. 

Your attorney’s fees will be capped at 20% of this amount of $728,000, which is $145,600. This amount is then the maximum that your attorney is permitted to charge. So even if he or she gets you benefits for a longer period or compensation of anything over $728,000, he or she is only permitted to charge a maximum amount of $145,600 in fees.

There is a specific list of injuries for which your attorney can charge a fee capped at $100. These are for serious cases which are undisputed, meaning that everything including payment terms as well as the type of injury are agreed upon by both the insurance company and the injured worker. This is a specific list of injuries including death, loss of a limb, or loss of vision in an eye.

In all other instances, your attorney will be entitled to charge the full 20% of your compensation as his or her fee. These are instances where there is a dispute about your medical treatment from your insurance company, a delay in getting your TTD payments, or your claim is denied by your employer. In these instances, your attorney may have to do a significant amount of work by going to trial or negotiating a workers' comp lump sum settlement to recover compensation for you. In these cases, your attorney’s fee will be 20% of what he or she recovers for you.

When Might You Not Pay Any Fees?

Under some circumstances, your attorney may not charge fees for their services. For example, if your attorney helps you get undisputed and routine benefits, then he or she may not charge you any fees. Another potential instance of this would be when your medical expenses are paid, all the money should go to your medical bills only. 

Another situation is where you suffer temporary total disability (TTD). With this, if you are unable to work and receive compensation for lost wages, and your attorney helps you to receive this compensation, he or she will not get paid for this. The exception to this rule is when you are refused benefits, payments are overdue, or the amount is disputed, and your attorney must fight for these benefits. 

For routine issues, where you get injured, and your attorney simply helps you to file the correct paperwork, follow the correct procedures, and advise you on your available benefits, Illinois law prohibits him or her from charging you for this.

Additional Cost to Hire a Workers' Comp Attorney

Sometimes there may be other costs and expenses in your case that do not form part of the fees. These can include the costs to obtain copies of medical records, and what doctors may charge for independent medical exams and depositions. You should speak to your attorney upfront to understand how he or she will handle these costs and reimbursements after winning your case.

Sometimes your injury may be caused by a person other than your employer. This can include negligent drivers causing a car crash, defective equipment which caused your injuries, or unsafe contractors or subcontractors. In these situations, you and your workers’ compensation attorney will be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the negligent person who caused your injuries, so that you can maximize your compensation. This is a separate claim against a third party, and the 20% rule for workers comp contingency agreements will not apply. In these cases, you will need to agree on a separate fee agreement with your attorney.

Why Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney?

It is important to have an experienced attorney to walk you through the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. This can help you to avoid any unnecessary delays and ensure that if there are any complications, you are represented and have someone who will fight for you to get the best compensation possible. 

The advantage of these types of claims is that it will not cost you anything to hire an attorney. Since the fees are paid on contingency as a percentage of your compensation, there is no out-of-pocket cost to consider with the cost to hire a workers' comp attorney. If you and your attorney are not successful in getting compensation for you, it will not usually cost you anything. 

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.