As in most other states, Virginia workers’ compensation lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means that, instead of charging by the hour, your lawyer will take a percentage of the compensation he or she is able to secure for you. Unlike some other states, Virginia does not have an attorneys’ fee schedule or statutory maximum. However, the fee must be reasonable and approved by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
At the end of your case, your lawyer will need to seek approval of his or her fee. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission will decide whether the fee is appropriate on a case-by-case basis, after taking into account:
In general though, the Commission will not approve a contingency fee that is higher than 20%.
Your lawyer’s fee primarily comes out of your permanent disability benefits. This is a sum of money awarded to workers who have a permanent impairment as a result of the work injury. (To learn more, see our article on how permanent disability benefits are calculated in Virginia.) Lawyers typically can’t take a fee from temporary disability benefits, which are routinely paid when a doctor orders you to take time off work. However, your lawyer may take a fee if he or she secures unpaid temporary disability benefits for you after they were denied.
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. Many lawyers will pay these costs throughout your case and deduct them from your settlement or award. (To learn more, see our article on what items are deducted from your workers’ comp settlement or award.)
Most workers’ comp attorneys in Virginia 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.