In Oregon, as in many other states, 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—and how it’s paid—depends on how your case is resolved. (To learn how much you might receive if you win, see our article on workers’ comp benefits in Oregon.)
If your lawyer is successful in getting your denied claim accepted, you won’t be responsible for paying attorneys’ fees. The insurance company will pay for your lawyer’s fees. In all other cases, attorneys’ fees will come out of your compensation.
In Oregon, attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation cases must be reasonable and approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board. In determining whether a fee is reasonable, the board will consider several factors, including:
At the end of your case, your lawyer will submit a request to the board for attorneys’ fees, with a statement describing how much time the lawyer spent on your case and the result achieved.
However, attorneys’ fees cannot exceed certain amounts set by Oregon law. The Board must stay within the following maximums when deciding on a fee.
Settlements. If your case is resolved through a settlement with the insurance company, your lawyer will receive a percentage of your settlement funds (called a “contingency fee”). Except in extraordinary circumstances, a lawyer cannot collect more than:
Awards. If you are awarded benefits by an administrative law judge after a hearing, your lawyer cannot receive more than:
Different maximums apply to other types of proceedings—for example, if your lawyer represents you in a medical dispute or appeals an unfavorable decision by an administrative law judge.
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. If you win your case after a workers’ comp hearing, the workers’ comp judge can order the insurance company to pay your legal costs. If you settle your case, costs will likely come out of your settlement. (To learn more, see our article on what items are deducted from your workers’ comp settlement or award.)
Most workers’ comp attorneys in Oregon will meet with workers for a free consultation before deciding to take on a case. To learn more, see our page on finding and hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer.