If you’ve been injured on the job in Wisconsin, you probably have questions about filing for workers’ compensation. You may also have questions about hiring an attorney. For example, you may want to know how much it will cost to hire an attorney to represent you.
Understanding Attorneys’ Fees for Workers’ Compensation Cases in Wisconsin
There are a few important facts about attorneys’ fees for workers’ compensation cases in Wisconsin. With a clear understanding of these facts, you can make an informed decision about your legal representation:
1. Attorneys Handle Workers’ Compensation Cases on a Contingency-Fee Basis
The first thing to know is that attorneys handle workers’ compensation cases on a contingency-fee-basis. This means two things: (i) you never have to pay anything out of pocket, and (ii) you never have to pay anything unless your lawyer helps you secure benefits. Your initial consultation is free, you do not have to pay a retainer, and you will never receive a monthly legal bill for your attorney’s services.
If your attorney helps you secure workers’ compensation benefits, your legal fees will be calculated as a percentage of your award. As discussed below, this percentage is capped under Wisconsin law, and attorneys cannot charge contingency fees for certain benefits.
2. Wisconsin Law Caps Attorneys’ Contingency Fees in Workers’ Compensation Cases
As explained in the Wisconsin Administrative Code, in workers’ compensation cases, attorneys can only charge “a maximum attorney’s fee of 20% of the amount in dispute.” So, let’s say, for example, that your employer’s insurance company provided coverage for your medical expenses, but it is disputing liability for temporary disability. In this scenario, only your temporary disability benefits are in dispute, so your attorney would only be able to charge a 20% contingency fee on any temporary disability benefits he or she is able to help you recover.
There are other limitations on attorneys’ fees in Wisconsin workers’ compensation cases. For example:
- Workers’ compensation attorneys cannot charge fees for helping injured workers secure medical benefits “to the extent that other sources, such as group insurance, are available to pay such expenses.”
- When assisting injured workers with permanent total disability benefits claims, attorneys cannot collect a fee for securing “compensation awards due beyond 500 weeks.”
- When an injured worker hires an attorney to assist with securing workers’ compensation benefits that are not in dispute, “the fee charged may not exceed 10 percent [of the benefits secured], but [must] not . . . exceed $250.”
3. You Can Take Home More with an Experienced Attorney Representing You
Twenty percent of your benefits may seem like a lot, especially if you will be relying on your benefits to cover your bills while you cannot work. But, this is a bit of a misconception. Here’s why:
When you hire an attorney to help you collect disputed workers’ compensation benefits, you are relying on your attorney to do something you cannot do on your own. Without an attorney representing you, there is a very real possibility that you will not receive any benefits for your on-the-job injury. So, even though you are paying an attorney to represent you, you are still taking home more than you would have collected by yourself. Thus, hiring an attorney is well worth it, and the reality is that with all of the work involved in collecting disputed workers’ compensation benefits, 20% is a very reasonable fee.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Since all attorneys in Wisconsin charge the same legal fees for handling workers’ compensation cases, what factors should you consider when choosing an attorney to represent you? Some of the most important factors include:
- Focus on Workers’ Compensation – You will want to choose an attorney who focuses his or her practice on workers’ compensation. This does not have to be the attorney’s sole practice area, but you will want an attorney who regularly represents injured workers.
- Years of Experience – Understanding Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation system and understanding the claims process clearly requires years of legal experience. When you have a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to put experience on your side.
- Positive Client Reviews – Positive client reviews are always a good sign. You can check Google as well as lawyer rating websites like com to see if a lawyer consistently receives five-star reviews.
- Awards and Recognition – Awards and recognition can also speak to a lawyer’s ability to provide effective legal representation. For example, at Mays Law Office, we have been named the “Best Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Madison” by Expertise.com and received a People’s Choice award from Madison.com.
- Availability and Accessibility – When you have a workers’ compensation claim, you need an attorney who is available to assist you immediately. You also need your attorney to be accessible. You should be able to get in touch by phone, text, or email, and if your attorney is unavailable due to prior commitments, he or she should get back to you as soon as possible.
- Commitment to Your Recovery – It is important to feel confident that your attorney is committed to your recovery. The outcome of your workers’ compensation claim could impact your life for months—if not years—to come. With this in mind, your attorney should be prepared to do everything he or she can to help maximize your benefits.
- Makes You Feel Comfortable – Finally, choosing an attorney who makes you feel comfortable is important. You will need to share personal information with your attorney, and being open and honest will be key to maximizing your recovery. If you don’t feel comfortable during your initial consultation, you should schedule another appointment with someone else.
Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation about Your Workers’ Compensation Case
If you have been injured on the job in Wisconsin and would like to know more about how an attorney can help you, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our law offices in Madison, WI, please call 608-257-0440 or send us your contact information online today.