Workers’ comp lawyers in Alaska, like in most other states, only get paid if you recover benefits. In Alaska, your employer’s insurance company will have to pay your attorneys’ fees if you prevail on a disputed claim. (To learn how much you might receive, see our article on workers’ compensation benefits in Alaska.)
In Alaska, workers’ comp lawyers get paid based on the nature, length, and complexity of the services they provide in a particular case. However, lawyers are guaranteed a minimum fee in any case where a worker recovers benefits. The fee is equal to 25% of the first $1,000 of compensation and 10% percent of the rest of the award or settlement.
The Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board must approve any fee over $300. Approval happens at the end of your case, after you have entered into a settlement or received an award. The board will automatically approve the minimum fee described above. However, if your lawyer is seeking a fee higher than the minimum, he or she must submit a document showing the hours spent on your case and the nature of the work. The board will approve a fee higher than the minimum if it is reasonable given how much time and effort the lawyer put into the case, how much it benefited you, and the size of your settlement or award.
In most cases, you won’t need to pay for your lawyer’s fees. When a workers’ comp claim is disputed in Alaska, the employer’s insurance company is typically responsible for paying the employee’s attorneys’ fees.
In some cases, the board might determine that legal representation was necessary, even though your employer did not dispute your claim. In this case, your attorney will still get a fee, but it will be paid out of your compensation.
Costs incurred by your lawyer in pursuing your case—which may include deposition fees, copying costs, or expert witness fees (to have a doctor testify on your behalf, for example)—are not included in your lawyer’s fees. Your legal costs will be paid by the insurance company if you win at your workers’ compensation hearing. In all other cases, you will be responsible for paying the legal costs out of any compensation you receive. Many workers’ comp lawyers will agree to pay for these costs as they come up and seek reimbursement at the end of your case. However, some might require you to pay for costs up front.
Although not required by law, many Alaska workers’ comp lawyers offer free consultations to injured workers. However, lawyers may charge up to $300 for an initial consultation with getting board approval.
A consultation can help you determine whether you need a lawyer’s help and how much you might expect to receive in your case. For information about how to choose a lawyer, see our article on what to look for in a workers’ comp lawyer.