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How Much Do Virginia Workers' Compensation Attorneys Cost

If you were involved in a workplace accident and can't get the help you need from your employer, you may be thinking it is time to call a Virginia workers' compensation attorney. But if you've never hired a lawyer before, you may be wondering how much a Virginia workers' comp lawyer costs.

There are actually many factors that can influence how much you pay a lawyer, including:

  • The billing method a lawyer chooses to use
  • How much a lawyer charges within that billing method
  • How fast you can resolve your Virginia workers' compensation claim
  • Whether you are able to collect any benefits at all and how much you ultimately collect
  • The amount of the other legal expenses, such as photocopying or paying for a medical expert's time

How your attorney bills you has a greater impact on the final legal bill than how much he or she charges. Workers' compensation lawyers in Virginia typically bill in one of two ways: using a contingency fee or an hourly rate. They are very different billing methods.

Under a contingency fee, you pay your lawyer a percentage of any money you get from your Virginia workers' compensation claim. If you collect nothing, you pay nothing assuming your Virginia workers' comp lawyer waives the cost of legal expenses.

An hourly rate, also called an hourly fee, is just what it sounds like: you pay your lawyer by the hour for the time he or she actually works on your case. You pay this regardless of the outcome of your claim.

Whether your attorney prefers a contingency fee or an hourly fee, you need to understand the details of the billing system and how your claim can affect your legal tab. The best time to ask these questions is during the interview process before you hire anyone. You cannot renegotiate the terms of your billing arrangement once you've hired an attorney.

Hiring a Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer on Contingency

Most worker's compensation attorneys in Virginia prefer to work on contingency. That is because contingency fees offer many attractive features to their clients, such as:

  • No money is required up front before you collect from your employer's workers' compensation insurance company
  • If you are unable to collect workers' compensation benefits, you owe nothing in legal fees and probably won't have to pay for the other legal expenses
  • The more money you can recover from your employer, the more your lawyer makes; so, you now have someone with a financial motivation to get you as much in benefits as possible

The primary disadvantage to hiring a Virginia workers' compensation lawyer on contingency comes if you are able to settle your claim quickly or for much more money than you had originally thought. You may feel that the attorney's efforts were not in proportion to the legal fee he or she received.

If you decide to go with a Virginia workers' compensation attorney who works on contingency, you may be able to negotiate different terms; but remember, you can only ask for these changes before you actually hire the lawyer.

Among the changes you can request are:

  • A lower percentage contingency fee
  • To calculate the lawyer's fee after legal expenses are deducted
  • To use one percentage if the claim settles and a second percentage, usually higher, if the claim is resolved at an administrative hearing

Hiring a Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer at an Hourly Rate

Charging by the hour is common among lawyers who practice in other areas of the law, such as regulatory or divorce law. It is used less often among Virginia workers' compensation lawyers.

If you decide to hire an attorney who charges by the hour, you'll probably have to pay a retainer fee, or down payment. You'd then pay monthly legal bills and the legal expenses. If your claim is unsuccessful, you would still owe these payments.

If you've had a hard time finding a workers' compensation attorney in Virginia to take your claim on contingency, it may indicate that your claim is weak or will not garner much money. Before you hire an attorney by the hour, make sure you get an honest, detailed assessment of your claim, so that you will not be wasting your time and precious resources.

The Cost of Hiring a Virginia Worker's Comp Lawyer

While you are still interviewing Virginia workers' compensation attorney, make sure you fully understand each one's billing method and whether they charge by the hour or a contingency fee. Ask what you will owe if you do not win your claim.

Also ask:

  • How much money can I receive in worker's comp benefits from my claim if we settled or if we go to an administrative hearing?
  • How much money will I have to pay in legal fees if we settle or if we go to an administrative hearing?
  • How much money will I have to pay in related legal expenses if we settle or if we go to an administrative hearing?
  • How much am I likely to take home after paying legal fees and expenses if we settle or if we go to an administrative hearing?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you'll have a much better idea of how much it costs to hire a Virginia workers' compensation attorney.