In Utah, as in many other states, workers’ comp lawyers are typically 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. (To learn how much you might receive if you win, see our article on workers’ comp benefits in Utah.)
Rather than charge by the hour, lawyers in workers’ compensation cases generally take a percentage of your award or settlement (called a “contingency fee”). This means that you don’t pay your lawyer out of your own pocket, and you don’t owe any attorneys’ fees unless you win your case.
For many years, workers’ compensation lawyers in Utah could not charge more than 10% to 25% of a worker’s settlement or award. However, in 2016, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that this fee schedule issued by the Utah Labor Commission was unconstitutional. As a result, there is no longer a cap on attorneys’ fees in workers’ comp cases in Utah.
Workers and lawyers are free to negotiate their own fees in. The only restriction is that lawyers are ethically prohibited from charging “unreasonable” fees. In practice, workers’ compensation lawyers usually charge a standard fee of 33%.
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. Lawyers will often pay for these costs throughout your case and then deduct them from your settlement or award. Some lawyers will require you to reimburse them for these costs even if you lose your case. Be sure to ask your lawyer how costs will be handled before you sign a fee agreement. (To learn more, see our article on what items are deducted from your workers’ comp settlement or award.)