Let’s face it, attorney’s fees can be expensive. If you have ever had an issue in family court, involving divorce or custody issues, then you know how attorney’s fees need to be factored into any decision you make with regard to the litigation. Indeed, even massive corporations that are doing battle in the courtroom on a complex commercial dispute might choose to settle a case if they realize that their attorney’s invoice makes litigating something too expensive to be worthwhile.
When it comes to workers compensation, however, under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act there is a good chance that you do not need to worry about paying attorney’s fees. If an attorney helps you get workers compensation benefits, it is likely that the employer’s insurance company will cover attorney’s fees.
Yet, even if you become responsible for attorney’s fees once you obtain workers’ compensation benefits, there is still less to worry about because the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act puts a ceiling on how much you would have to pay your attorney.
Therefore, when it comes to hiring an attorney for your workers’ compensation case, you do not need to let the attorney’s fee drive your decision. Rather, you can choose an attorney who you are confident will provide you with competent, professional representation.
In that vein, we welcome you to learn more about our law firm at Doolittle & Tucker, P.A. We are the experts when it comes to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, having handled thousands of Florida workers’ compensation matters for our clients.
Indeed, because Florida law is such that all lawyers are paid the same attorney fee for workers’ compensation work in the State, you have the luxury of going with a firm that you know will provide the highest quality workers’ compensation representation. Call us to learn more today at 904-396-1734. We provide for a free consultation as well. Let us direct our expertise and passion for helping injured victims towards maximizing the benefits for you and your family.
Attorney Fee Rules under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act
The law provides that all workers’ compensation attorneys charge the same amount regarding a case involving the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. Moreover, a judge has the authority to make sure that any fee that an employer’s insurance company or injured employee is charged is fair and complies with the law.
The law works as follows. An attorney in a Florida Workers’ Compensation Act case is entitled to be paid for his or her time and effort in obtaining benefits for an injured employee. The law requires that the maximum fee be:
• 20% of the first $5,000 of benefits the employee receives;
• 15% of the next $5,000 of benefits the employee receives; and
• 10% of all benefits obtained over $10,000.
Calculating the Attorney Fee
Many people make the mistake that the percentages above are cumulative. In other words, people fear that if they obtain benefits over $10,000, then they must pay 45% of their benefits to an attorney. Have no fear, that is not how It works. For every milestone you hit, be it $5,000 or $10,000, the percentage you need to pay in attorney’s fees goes down.
To be specific, if you obtained a benefit of, for example, $25,000, then the fee would be calculated as follows.
• The first $5,000 at 20% – the attorney’s fee is $1,000.
• For the next $5,000 at 15% – the attorney’s fee is $750.
• Finally, for the remaining $15,000 at 10% – the attorney’s fee is $1,500.
Accordingly, if an attorney assists you in obtaining $25,000 in benefits, the maximum attorney fee would be is $3,250. The more important question, however, is who pays the attorney’s fee.
Determining Who Must Pay the Attorney’s Fee
– When Your Employer and Your Employer’s Insurance Pay the Attorney’s Fees
When you hire an attorney to help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits due to a work-related injury, your attorney will typically file a lawsuit seeking medical care compensation, wages, and any applicable benefits for which you are eligible. From the time of that lawsuit, your employer has 30 days within which to provide you with benefits.
Once that 30-day time period has elapsed, your employer (or the employer’s insurance company) becomes liable for paying the attorney’s fees owed in relation to any benefits that you receive as a result of the lawsuit. Those fees would be, of course, in accordance with the schedule discussed above.
Accordingly, your employer paying the relevant attorney’s fee is a ‘win-win’ for you, because you receive benefits and do not have to worry about the attorney’s fee.
– When You, the Injured Employee, Are Responsible for the Fee
There are typically two situations when the injured employee is responsible for the attorney’s fee.
First, the injured employee typically pays the attorney’s fee when a case is resolved due to a settlement. Accordingly, if a lawsuit is concluded through an agreement to settle, then the attorney’s fee responsibility is on the injured employee. In that situation, however, you can make sure to factor in the relevant attorney’s fee when deciding on a settlement amount. Thus, at least the attorney-fee responsibility does not come as a surprise to you. Further, the amount of the attorney’s fee is calculated with the same schedule discussed above.
Second, in the rare case that an employer decides to pay out benefits within that 30-day window after a lawsuit is filed, then the responsibility for paying the attorney’s fee (again at the statutory schedule described above) falls on the injured employee. It should be noted that this situation is rare. It is highly unlikely that an employer would deny you benefits (thus prompting you to obtain a lawyer) and then turn around and grant you benefits the moment a lawsuit is filed. At least you know that any fee is capped at the statutory 20/15/10 rate.
Florida Workers’ Compensation Attorneys are Here to Help You
As noted above, Doolittle & Tucker is the firm with the most experience working on cases involving the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. We are also dedicated to helping injured workers obtain the compensation they deserve. Call us at 904-396-1734 today.