The answer is in the fee agreement.
A fee agreement explains the legal services an attorney will be providing, the breakdown of charges that can be collected if a claim goes to trial or settles, and the client’s obligation to cooperate with the attorney during the life of the claim. Signing a fee contract with an attorney is an important first step in any type of claim. The fee agreement allows an attorney to start working on your case, because it shows that you are officially their client, and it outlines the agreement around attorney’s fees.
So, what are you agreeing to?
Under Georgia law and the Worker’s Compensation Act, attorneys can receive a fee of 25% of the recovery of weekly benefits and/or any lump sum settlement. Attorneys are also able to collect reimbursement on expenses from the claim, such as medical records costs, postage, copy costs, etc. But attorneys are limited to the 25% fee and expenses in workers’ comp claims, and the State Board of Workers’ Compensation has to approve the settlement, as well as the fee agreement.
Why is it called a contingency fee agreement?
According to Barron’s Law Dictionary, “..a contingent fee is a charge made by an attorney dependent upon a successful outcome in a case and is often agreed to be a percentage of the party’s recovery.” This means that if the attorney is unsuccessful in recovering any money from a claim, there is no fee due from the client, excluding any out of pocket fees that the attorney may have accumulated while representing that client, such as ordering medical records or copy costs.
When does an attorney receive their fees?
If an attorney goes to a hearing in a workers’ compensation claim and the Administrative Law Judge awards attorney’s fees, they will be paid weekly along with the claimant’s weekly benefits. In the case of a lump sum settlement, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation must approve the settlement, and when the insurance company issues the checks, the attorney collects his fees at the same time the claimant receives their portion. This means that the client is not paying fees up front to retain an attorney. Instead, the attorney is paid at the same time as the client.
Do you have any questions? Let us know so that we can help you better understand how attorneys are paid in workers’ compensation claims.