In the District of Columbia, workers’ comp lawyers are paid only if you win your case. This means that your lawyer is successful either in getting the insurance company to pay you benefits or in preventing the insurance company from stopping your benefits. The amount your lawyer receives depends on his or her qualifications and the amount of time spent on your case. (To learn how much you might receive if you win, see our article on workers’ comp benefits in the District of Columbia.)
In D.C., attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation cases must be reasonable and approved by the Department of Employment Services (DOES), the state agency that administers the workers’ comp program. In determining whether a fee is reasonable, the DOES will consider several factors, including:
Attorneys’ fees are decided on a case-by-case basis.
D.C. sets maximum hourly rates that workers’ compensation attorneys can charge for their services, depending on their level of experience. The DOES cannot approve a fee that is higher than these amounts. As of July 1, 2016, the hourly schedule is as follows:
However, the lawyer’s total fee cannot be more than 20% of your settlement or award.
Your lawyer’s fee does not include any legal costs incurred to pursue your case, such as filing fees, deposition fees, expert witness fees, and copy fees. Many lawyers will pay these costs throughout your case and then deduct them from your settlement or award. If you lose your case, you might need to pay for certain expenses, depending on your agreement with your lawyer. (To learn more, see our article on what items are deducted from your workers’ comp settlement or award.)