Like in most other states, New York workers’ comp lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that your lawyer will be paid a certain percentage out of the proceeds of your workers’ comp settlement or award, rather than charging you by the hour. Your lawyer does not get paid if he or she isn’t able to recover any benefits for you.
Unlike many other states, New York does not set a maximum contingency fee that lawyers can charge in workers’ comp cases. Instead, a workers’ comp judge determines the appropriate fee on a case-by-case basis taking into account:
In general, New York workers’ comp lawyers usually end up taking between 10% and 15% of a workers’ comp settlement or award. (See our article on how much you might receive in workers’ comp benefits in New York.)
If you attend a workers’ comp hearing, your lawyer will ask the workers’ comp judge to approve attorneys’ fees during the hearing or just afterwards. If you settle your case without a hearing, your lawyer will present the settlement to a workers’ comp judge for approval, which should include the attorneys’ fees being paid in your case. When the fee requested is over $450, the lawyer must submit an Attorney/Representative’s Application for Fee (Form OC-400.1) and send you a copy. You will have a chance to tell the judge if you think the fee is unreasonable or inaccurate.
Costs incurred by your lawyer in pursuing your case—which may include deposition fees, copy fees, or translator fees—are usually paid by your lawyer up front. Your lawyer can seek reimbursement for the costs at the end of your case. If the judge approves the costs, they will typically be taken out of your award.
Although it isn’t required, most New York workers’ comp lawyers offer free consultations for injured workers. This can help you decide whether you need a lawyer’s help with your case. (For information about how to choose a lawyer, see this article on what to look for in a workers’ comp lawyer.)