How are New Jersey Workers’ Compensation attorneys paid for their services?
You were hurt on the job and now you’re looking for legal representation for your Workers’ Compensation case. You have lots of questions, and you might be concerned about the cost for you to hire an attorney.
In New Jersey, all Workers’ Compensation attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that your attorney does not receive any payment unless and until you settle your case or receive a judgment awarding you compensation. Instead of charging you an hourly rate, your lawyer will receive a percentage of your settlement or award. By law, the amount that your attorney can receive is capped at 20 percent of the judgment or settlement. The Workers’ Compensation Judge can also allocate who pays your attorneys’ fees at the end of your case, between you and your employer’s insurance company.
Here are a few things you should know about attorneys’ fees in New Jersey Worker’s Compensation:
(1) While the award of counsel fees must be within the statutory limits (up to 20% of the overall settlement or judgment), the exact amount of the counsel fee awarded is left to the discretion of the Workers’ Compensation Judge.
(2) The fee awarded to your attorney must be reasonable. The Workers’ Compensation Judge will use various factors to determine a reasonable attorney’s fee at the end of your case.
(3) The amount of the settlement or award you receive is just one factor considered by the Workers’ Compensation Judge in fixing the attorney’s fee. Additional important factors include the nature and extent of the services provided by the attorney. The Worker’s Compensation Judge also looks at the following factors:
• The need for the petition;
• What was really in issue;
• The difficulty and complexity of the issues involved;
• The extent and nature of the matters contested;
• The degree of the attorney’s expertise;
• The value of the attorney’s services to you; and
• The extent to which the employer (or its insurance carrier) in good faith should have recognized its liability to you within a reasonable time.
With regards to the good faith factor, an unreasonable and unjustified delay in admitting liability is not considered by the Workers’ Compensation Judge in fixing the aggregate reasonable attorney’s fee awarded; but may be given consideration in the allocation of the attorney’s fee granted as it is split between you and your employer’s insurance company.
A major objective of the Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide a speedy and efficient partial substitute for wages when you suffer a compensable disability, and to require prompt payment of Workers’ Compensation benefits by your employer. Requiring your employer to pay a greater proportion of your attorney’s fee because of their unjustified delay furthers the incentive for a prompt response by your employer to your claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Keeping the above criteria in mind, the Workers’ Compensation Judge considers:
(1) The amount of counsel fee to be awarded; and
(2) The allocation of amounts to be paid into the counsel fee by each party.
Ultimately, your choice of attorney for your Workers’ Compensation claim does not have to come down to cost. The attorney’s fee in your Workers’ Compensation case is determined by the Workers’ Compensation Judge at the end of your case, and the payment of that fee is allocated by the Judge to be paid in part by you from the award you receive, and in part by your employer’s insurance company.
The attorneys at The Weiss Group will expertly guide you through the process with our knowledge and experience in New Jersey Workers’ Compensation courts. We will actively review your case with you at every step, and advocate for the Worker’s Compensation award that you deserve. We strive to provide complete answers to your questions, and keep you informed throughout the progression of your case. The attorney’s fee at the end of your case will be based upon the direct results we obtain for you.
To contact us, please call 732-549-2515 or email LDW@WeissLawyersNJ.com.
Written By: Thai Zommer, Esq.