Thursday, April 21, 2011

You Can Afford a GREAT MN Work Comp Lawyer!

In Minnesota, attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are set by statute, which means that the cost for our services is set by law. Because our fees are set by statute, cost shouldn’t factor into your decision as to whether to hire a lawyer, or which lawyer you decide to retain. We’re all paid the same amount. That means you can afford the BEST workers’ compensation lawyer in the state, or you can get the worst lawyer in the state, and the fees will be the same, although the best lawyer will probably be able to secure more benefits for you.

Workers’ compensation attorney fees in Minnesota are set at 25% of the first $4,000.00 in benefits recovered, and 20% thereafter, up to a maximum of $13,000.00 in attorney fees per date of injury.

In certain complex or difficult cases, your attorney can petition the court to allow fees beyond the $13,000.00 maximum. In cases involving disputes over your entitlement to medical care or rehabilitation benefits, your attorney can petition the court to award hourly fees called Roraff or Heaton fees, that are paid by the workers’ compensation insurance company, separately from any monetary benefits you receive.

Minnesota law-makers recognize the fact that the vast majority of injured workers can’t afford to hire an attorney and pay a retainer or hourly fees. That is why attorney fees in Minnesota workers’ compensation are contingent.

When attorney fees are “contingent,” it means that the attorney fees are set as a percentage of the amount of benefits that are recovered on behalf of the injured worker. It also means you pay nothing up front, you don’t pay a retainer, and you pay no attorney fees out of pocket. A Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer should never ask you to pay attorney fees up front, or ask for a monetary retainer.

“Contingent” attorney fees also means that if your attorney is unsuccessful in securing benefits for you, there is no attorney fee. That means that you literally take on no risk by pursuing a workers’ compensation case. A workers’ compensation lawyer that takes on your case on a contingency fee basis bears 100% of the risk of being unsuccessful. Even if you lose, and your attorney spent 1,000 hours of time on your case, you won’t have a bill for his or her services at the end of your case.

Workers’ compensation attorneys also generally front all costs associated with your case. For example, it usually costs a few hundred dollars to secure copies of all your medical records, it may cost a few hundred dollars for deposition transcripts, and expert opinions can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. In some cases, the costs are minimal. In complex cases, the costs can run into the thousands or more. In Minnesota, reasonable costs incurred by your attorney in pursuing your case are reimbursable by the workers’ compensation insurance company, which means reimbursement for costs don’t come out of your pocket—they come out of the insurance company’s pocket.  

Attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are also limited to situations where there is a dispute. I’ve had clients tell me that their workers’ compensation adjuster told them that if they hire a lawyer, attorney fees will be taken out of their benefits, and they’ll get less money. That’s absolutely not the case. If your claim is admitted and the workers’ compensation insurance company is paying you benefits, no attorney fees will be withheld from your benefits. Attorney fees are only withheld if there is a dispute and your attorney has to do something either to secure your right to those benefits, or to prevent the insurance company from stopping those benefits.

It costs you nothing to speak with a Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, which means that we sit down with you, discuss the facts of your case, talk about the types of workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to, give you suggestions as to how best to proceed on your case, point out issues on your case that might cause problems, give you advice on how to protect your rights, and help you formulate a plan to help you end up where you want to be.

Our consultations are also no-obligation, which means that after you meet with us, and you decide you don’t need or want a lawyer, you’re not obligated to retain us. The important thing is that you’re more knowledgeable about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. Don’t assume that the workers’ compensation insurance company will tell you what your rights are. In fact, the general rule is that insurance companies generally are not obligated to tell your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. If there's a "gray area" on your case as to whether you are entitled to certain benefits or not, the insurance company most certainly won't tell you, "well, you might have a claim for x, y, and z."

A lot of folks wait until there’s a dispute stewing between them and the insurance company over wage loss or medical treatment to speak with a lawyer. You do not need to wait until there’s a dispute. Even if the workers’ compensation insurance company has accepted liability for your work injury, it’s usually just a matter of time before a dispute does arise.

Even if you don't think there's a dispute on your case, you'd be shocked how often the workers' compensation insurance company underpays benefits. Some common underpayments we see involve undercalculating a worker's average weekly wage (AWW), failing to pay temporary partial disability  (TPD) benefits, underpaying permament partial disability (PPD) benefits or simply not paying PPD at all. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you're entitled to additional benefits after consulting with a Minnesota workers' compensation lawyer.

If you retain a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer before a dispute arises on your case, we can provide you advice and guidance as your claim progresses to avoid a lot of common mistakes injured people make that can adversely affect their claims. It also allows us, as your attorneys, to spot issues before they come up, and to help guide you through the situation to protect your interests, and help you direct your claim in the direction you want it to go.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your rights under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, call Jen or Ron at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.

Visit us at to learn more about your workers' compensation rights.


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