If I had to guess what the number one most frequently asked question is, there’s one I hear the most without a doubt. In fact, I hear it 100% of the time, for good reason: What fee will my attorney charge me for my Indiana worker’s compensation case? This is a very fair question, and it’s important for you to know this information prior to your meeting with an attorney about your worker’s compensation case.
In Indiana worker’s compensation cases, an attorney is entitled to a fee of $200 plus 20% of any recovery that an injured employee receives up to the first $50,000.00. If an injured worker’s recovery exceeds $50,000.00, the attorney’s fee on the excess above $50,000.00 drops to 15%. Attorneys may also earn a 10% attorney’s fee on any award of unpaid medical expenses, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and future medical expenses.
These fees are set by statute. The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board also publishes the fee guidelines on its website. An injured worker looking for an attorney is unlikely to encounter differences in quoted fees from one attorney to the other. They are contingency fees, meaning injured workers ordinarily are not asked to pay anything up front (some law firms may require a down payment for expenses), and the lawyers will only get paid when the injured worker gets paid.
Sometimes, an award of future medical expenses will result in an attorney earning a fee in a slightly different way. If a worker’s compensation judge orders an employer to pay for an injured employee’s future medical care, the money frequently will be paid 90% to the doctor’s office, and 10% to the attorney. The injured employee, of course, gets the benefit of medical care at no cost to him/her.
Knowing what attorney’s fees are in an Indiana worker’s compensation case is very important before meeting with an attorney. It is a great way to find out if your attorney actually devotes a significant portion of his/her practice to Indiana worker’s compensation law. If a lawyer quotes fees different than what I described above, that is a good sign the lawyer does not understand Indiana Worker’s Compensation law, and may not be the best fit to help with your worker’s compensation case.