Nebraska workers’ comp lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means they receive a percentage of your settlement or award. They don’t charge by the hour, and they don’t get paid at all if you lose your claim. (To learn more about how much you could receive, see our article on Nebraska workers’ comp benefits.)
Unlike many other states, Nebraska does not cap attorneys’ fees in workers’ comp cases. The only requirement is that the fee must be reasonable. Because this is a loose standard, Nebraska lawyers have more leeway in setting their rates. Typically, they charge a fee of between 20% and 33% of your award or settlement.
Additionally, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court must approve attorneys’ fees in workers’ comp cases. When deciding whether a fee is reasonable, the court considers:
If your claim is very simple or is resolved very quickly, the court might approve a lower fee. However, in most cases, the court will honor the agreement you made with your attorney.
If you go to a workers’ comp hearing and win, the judge will order the insurance company to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees. If you settle your case, you will be responsible for your lawyer’s entire fee.
Legal costs are expenses related to your claim, such as medical records, expert witnesses, and the cost of transcribing deposition testimony. In very simple cases, legal costs can be a couple hundred dollars or less. However, in complicated or lengthy appeals, there can be thousands of dollars in costs.
You typically are financially responsible for these costs. However, if the court awards attorneys’ fees, the insurance company must also pay some of your costs, such as deposition fees and mileage for witnesses who travel to testify on your behalf.
Thankfully, many workers’ comp lawyers don’t expect upfront payment of legal costs. Instead, they will advance your costs and deduct them from your award or settlement. Some lawyers will even waive your legal costs if you lose your claim. However, different lawyers might have very different policies on legal costs. Make sure you understand how your lawyer handles costs before you sign a fee agreement.
If the insurance company denies or reduces your benefits, it is in your best interests to hire a Nebraska workers’ comp lawyer. Workers’ comp appeals require extensive legal and medical knowledge that most workers do not have. (See our article on the challenges of handling your own workers’ comp claim for more information.) Because many Nebraska workers’ comp lawyers offer a free initial consultation, you will have little to no upfront costs.