Workers’ comp lawyers in Mississippi, like in most other states, are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that your lawyer will be paid out of the proceeds of your workers’ comp settlement or award. If you don’t recover any benefits at all, you won’t owe any attorneys’ fees. (To learn how much you might receive, see our article on workers’ compensation benefits in Mississippi.)
By law, Mississippi workers’ comp lawyers cannot take more than 25% of your settlement or award. This fee will come out of your settlement or award before you receive it, so you won’t have to pay your lawyer out-of-pocket. This cap does not apply to appeals in superior court.
Although you can try to negotiate a lower fee with your lawyer, most lawyers charge the maximum rate. This is because lawyers have to spend a significant amount of time on workers’ comp cases, and the 25% cap is relatively low compared to other types of cases (for example, in personal injury cases, lawyers can receive up to 40% of their client’s award).
Workers’ comp lawyers cannot receive a percentage of benefits that your employer or its insurance company pays without dispute. However, your attorney is entitled to a fee for any benefits recovered through his or her efforts on your behalf.
Attorneys’ fees that exceed $200 must be approved by the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission in each case. Your lawyer must file a copy of your fee agreement with the Commission at the start of his or representation. The Commission will generally approve fee agreements that allow for the maximum attorney fee of 25%. Once an award or settlement is final, your attorney should be paid his or her portion of your award immediately.
Costs incurred by your lawyer in pursuing your case—which might 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. Many workers’ comp lawyers will agree to pay for these costs as they come up and then deduct them from your settlement or award. However, some might require you to pay for costs up front.
Although not required by law, most Mississippi workers’ comp lawyers offer free consultations to injured workers. This initial meeting 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.)