Contingency fees not permitted for federal workers comp cases?

by Christine
(Orange, CA)

I was told that in FECA Circular No. 09-03, OWCP (Office of Workers Compensation Programs), the law states as follows:

"Contingency fee arrangements are not permitted.

The attorney must provide an itemized statement and an hourly rate for all services performed for a client. All of this information must be contained in the fee request. Therefore, fees are based on an hourly rate which varies according to the difficulty of the claim, the complexity of the issues presented and the benefits obtained for the claimant. This means that the client pays the attorney for the work performed."

Is this true? Is this only for Federal Workers or all Workers comp cases? Any information you can provide regarding this change in fee structure would be appreciated. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Contingency fees not permitted for federal workers comp cases?":

Christine (Orange, CA):

It is true. When it comes to compensation in workers' compensation claims, attorneys are not paid contingent fees. To discuss a contingency fee is to imply the client is the one paying the attorney. It really doesn't work that way.

Most workers' comp attorneys are paid on an hourly basis according to the difficulty involved, length and breadth of experience, and the amount of benefits the attorney secures for the client. This is true for federal workers' comp claims as well California workers' comp claims.

According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations...

"If you choose to be represented by an attorney (in a workers compensation claim), your attorney's fees will be deducted from your benefits. The fee will be approved by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board with consideration given to the: (1) responsibility assumed by the attorney; (2) care exercised in representing you; (3) time involved; and, (4) results obtained.

Attorney's fees normally range from 9% to 12% of the benefits awarded. If your attorney has also represented you before the Rehabilitation Unit, there may also be a fee allowed for this representation.

There are certain circumstances where your employer (or his/her insurer) may be liable to pay your attorney's fees. For example, if the employer disputes a permanent disability evaluation obtained when you were not represented by an attorney, your employer may be liable for any attorney fees you incur because of the dispute."

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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