Whether your work injury was severe or not, you’ll want to know about the cost of legal representation. In Rhode Island, the amount of the attorney’s fee depends on the amount of work your attorney does on your case and whether your case settles. In some cases, you won’t be responsible for paying your attorney’s fee at all. (Read our article on Rhode Island workers' comp benefits to figure out how much you might receive in your case.)
In many cases, you won’t be responsible for paying your attorney’s fee. When your lawyer represents you before the workers’ compensation agency, the court will award your attorney a reasonable fee for appearing on your behalf. The insurance company will be responsible for paying these fees, so they won’t come out of your benefits award.
For example, your attorney might need to attend one or more pretrial hearings on certain issues, such as your petition to get medical bills paid or the insurance company’s petition to discontinue your benefits. If you prevail at any of these pretrial hearings, your attorney will be awarded a fee. The same goes for a formal worker’s comp hearing.
In determining a reasonable fee, the judge will consider:
Your attorney can also submit an affidavit for attorney’s fees if he or she is requesting a very specific fee. The request for fees will be based on the attorney’s usual hourly billing rate. The affidavit is not binding on the court, and the trial judge uses the affidavit only as a guide in determining a fair and reasonable fee.
If opposing counsel has an objection to the fee affidavit, your attorney will ask an independent attorney (not involved in the case) to submit the affidavit on his or her behalf. The purpose of the independent attorney is to vouch for your attorney’s request for fees.
Attorneys’ fees are handled differently when you settle your case. A worker’s compensation settlement in Rhode Island is typically a lump sum amount paid by the insurance company to close out your entire workers’ compensation case (including the right to future medical care). Your attorney can take up to 20% of that amount.
There is no upfront cost to speak with an attorney if you get injured on the job in Rhode Island. If you have any questions about costs and fees, be sure to speak with an attorney at the outset of your case. If you’re unsure how to choose a good attorney, read our article on how to find an excellent lawyer.