I frequently receive calls from prospective clients who have questions about their workers’ compensation benefits or whether they should hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. Of course, one of the first important questions is “how does a workers’ compensation lawyer get paid.”
First, as a lawyer who has been handling workers’ compensation law and practice since graduating from law school in 1978, when asked by a worker who has been injured on the job whether they need a workers’ compensation lawyer, I know that because of the variety of factual situations and legal issues in this area of law, I would definitely answer a resounding “YES”.
So why get a workers’s compensation lawyer? First, you cannot rely on the insurance companies and employers to always do the right thing in handling your case. Here is a simple example on a case I resolved favorably for a client years ago. The worker suffered horrific injuries while working as a car mechanic when a car lift malfunctioned and landed on him while he was under the car. He sustained numerous broken bones and permanent disabilities as a result. He was paid the maximum benefit amount that he was owed. However, he was also blinded in one eye as a result of the accident. He was entitled to have a specific loss of use recognized which would have provided him with 275 weeks of additional compensation if he ever returned to even part time modified employment. His workers’ compensation insurance company neglected to mention that. It represented approximately $200,000 in additional benefits. That’s why he needed to get a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Not every attorney knows the nuances of Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws. They change and are interpreted by the Courts continuously. Therefore, ask any prospective attorney who interview to tell you about his or her experience, years of practice, number of cases handled and how that attorney continues to keep abrest of the ever changing law of Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law and practice.
Secondly, ask how that lawyer will be paid. Workers’ compensation fees must be approved by a Judge or Appeal Board in rare circumstances. Normally, there is no fee for an initial consultation, especially if you are merely trying to determine the lawyer’s qualifications to handle such a case. Additionally, it is my practice to consult with clients without a fee, sometimes for years, until such time that a dispute arises regarding the payment of compensation or medical bills. Once that happens, a workers’ compensation Judge is permitted to award up to 20% of the weekly workers’ compensation benefit that you are receiving or hope to receive.
For information on the changing workers’ compensation laws, check out my Updates Blog for issues that may affect you. If you think you need a workers’ compensation lawyer, call Monahan Law for a free consultation. 610-363-3888