How Much Does a Workers' Comp Lawyer Cost in Maryland?

Learn whether you can afford a workers' comp lawyer in Maryland.

Under Maryland’s workers’ compensation law, lawyers must charge a contingency fee: a percentage of the benefits you are awarded by a judge or receive through a settlement. If you lose your workers’ comp claim, your lawyer does not get paid. (To learn more about how much you could receive in benefits, see our article on Maryland workers' comp benefits.)

Approval of Attorneys’ Fees in Maryland

Maryland sets out a specific procedure for charging attorneys’ fees in its workers’ comp law. All attorneys’ fees must be approved by the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. If your lawyer helps you recover workers’ comp benefits, he or she must file a Claimant’s Consent to Pay Attorney and Doctor form (Form H44) with the Commission, which includes:

  • receipts for all legal costs that were paid by your lawyer (see more on legal costs below), and
  • your signature.

The Commission will review this information and set a reasonable fee for your lawyer, in accordance with the fee structure described below.

Caps on Attorneys’ Fees in Maryland

Maryland establishes a maximum fee schedule for attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation claims. Unlike most states, Maryland has different rates depending on how your case is resolved and the type of benefits awarded. Maryland’s fee structure is more complicated than most states. If you have questions about workers’ comp attorneys’ fees, contact a Maryland lawyer for help.

Attorneys’ Fees for Settlements

If you settle your workers’ comp claim with the insurance company, your lawyer’s fees vary depending on the size of the settlement.

  • If your settlement is up to 14 times the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW), your lawyer gets 20% of the settlement. As of January 2017, settlements of $14,728 or less fall within this category.
  • If your settlement is between 15 and 35 times the SAWW, your lawyer will receive between 15% and 20% of your award. As of January 2017, settlements between $15,780 and $36,820 fall within this category.
  • If your settlement is more than 35 times the SAWW, your lawyer will receive between 10% and 20% of your award. As of January 2017, settlements greater than $36,820 fall within this category.

Attorneys’ Fees for Awards By a Judge

If a judge awards you workers’ comp benefits, your lawyer’s fees vary depending on the type of benefits awarded.

  • Permanent partial disability awards. Your lawyer’s total fee cannot exceed 20 times the state’s average weekly wage (“SAWW”). For 2017, this amount is $21,040. In addition, your lawyer’s fee is calculated as follows:
    • up to 20% of the first 75 weeks of benefits
    • up to 15% of the next 120 weeks of benefits, and
    • up to 10% of an award beyond 195 weeks of benefits.
  • Permanent total disability awards. A workers’ comp judge will award a fee of no more than 20 times the state’s average weekly wage.
  • Temporary disability benefits. Your lawyer can receive up to 10% of your unpaid benefits.

A lawyer’s fee may be higher than the schedule in exceptional cases, for example, if an appeal was extraordinarily complicated or lengthy.

Legal Costs in Maryland Workers’ Comp Cases

In addition to attorneys’ fees, you will likely have to pay for legal costs. Legal costs are expenses related to your claim, such as the cost of requesting medical records, hiring expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, and paying a court reporter to transcribe deposition testimony.

Most workers’ comp lawyers do not expect payment of your legal costs up front. Instead, they pay for them throughout your case and then deduct them from your award or settlement. Some lawyers will even agree to waive legal costs if you lose your case. However, lawyers have differing policies on legal costs. Make sure you fully understand your lawyer’s policies before you sign a fee agreement.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If your benefits are denied or reduced, you should seriously consider hiring a Maryland workers’ comp lawyer. Most appeals require detailed legal, medical, and vocational analysis in order to be successful. Most Maryland workers’ comp lawyers offer a free initial consultation, so you will have little to no upfront costs. (See our article on the challenges of handling your own workers’ comp claim to learn more.)

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