Workers’ compensation laws are to be construed for the benefit of the working man and woman. The fundamental principle of workers’ compensation laws is that the disability of an employee resulting from an injury arising out of and in the course of his or her employment should be born by the industry itself as an incident of operating its business. Workers’ compensation laws do not create a claim for damages but they provide for compensation based upon a certain percentage of wages being earned. The fundamental reason for passing workers’ compensation legislation was to avoid litigation and to provide for an efficient and speedy way to determine an award of compensation. Legal issues can arise in workers’ compensation cases. There can be a dispute as to whether or not the injury arose out of and during the course of employment. Additional legal issues may involve the right to medical benefits, the right to temporary total disability or healing period benefits, or the right to permanent partial disability benefits. If a legal issue arises in your workers’ compensation claim, you should consult a lawyer. As a general rule most attorneys handling workers’ compensation cases handle them on a contingent fee basis. There are cases however wherein an hourly fee may be considered. An hourly fee may be preferable in a situation where the only benefits being sought are medical benefits for example.
Among the factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of an attorneys fee are the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the question involved, the skill required in handling the matter, the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar services, the amount involved and the results obtain, any time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances of the case with regard to when certain matters must be completed and the experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer. In most situations an attorney commonly earns a fee on all weekly benefits obtained in situations where nothing has been paid by the employer or insurance carrier and his or her claim is being denied.
In other cases the attorneys fee should be taken on benefits obtained by the lawyer’s efforts. For example, if the employer or insurance carrier has paid all the healing period benefits to which the employee is entitled to or if the employer or insurance carrier has paid a permanent functional impairment rating no fee should be taken on those amounts. On the other hand, if an extension of healing period benefits is obtained or if industrial disability is obtained above the functional impairment rating or if the amount of compensation for permanent partial disability benefits in a case involving a scheduled injury is increased the lawyer would be entitled to fee on those benefits. If you consult a lawyer you should make sure you have a clear understanding with regard to what the attorney’s fee will be. You should also make sure that you have a clearer understanding as to what the costs will be with regard to pursuing your workers’ compensation case. You may want to also listen to In Touch Guide No. 6638.