If you get injured on the job in Wyoming, you might be worried about the cost of an attorney. Generally, attorney’s fees in worker’s compensation cases are paid by the State of Wyoming, and you won’t be responsible for the cost of an attorney at all.
Wyoming is one of the few states that requires employers to purchase worker’s comp insurance through a state fund. The Division of Worker’s Compensation (DWC) oversees the state workers’ comp system, including determining your eligibility to receive workers’ comp benefits and paying out your benefits. (If you’re unsure about whether you’re eligible for worker’s compensation benefits in Wyoming, read our article on Eligibility, Filing and Appeals.)
If the DWC concludes that you are eligible for benefits, you might not need the assistance of an attorney at all. In those cases (called “uncontested” cases), you’ll be in touch with a claims analyst from the DWC throughout your case to ensure that you are getting the right benefits at the right time. However, if you receive a letter from the DWC about a denial of benefits or dispute about amount of benefits owed, you might need an attorney to represent you in an upcoming hearing. You can either choose an attorney on your own, or ask the hearing officer to appoint an attorney to represent you.
(Receiving notice that your claim is denied can be stressful and upsetting. For an overview on why claims can be denied, read our article on Denied Worker’s Compensation Claims.)
In Wyoming, the DWC has authority to award attorneys’ fees in contested cases. Depending on the circumstances, you’re lawyer’s fees will be paid by your employer, out of a state fund, or out of your workers’ comp award. In all of these scenarios, you won’t have to pay for your attorney’s fees up front.
At the conclusion of your workers’ comp hearing, your attorney will submit an affidavit to the hearing examiner, requesting attorneys’ fees. Your attorney will include how much time he or she spent working on your case and preparing for the hearing. The hearing examiner will review the affidavit and award a reasonable fee to your attorney. Wyoming law allows your attorney to base the request for fees on an hourly rate of $150. For example, if your attorney spent ten hours preparing for your case, he or she will request a fee of $1,500.
Your attorney can also request reimbursement for costs related to pursuing your care. Common legal costs include fees for medical records, postage, trial transcripts, depositions, and more. Your attorney will outline costs in the same fee affidavit and will typically be reimbursed by the DWC at the end of your case.
Communication is a key ingredient to a good attorney-client relationship. It’s always a good idea to speak with your attorney about fees and costs at the outset of your case, so there are no surprises when it comes time for your lawyer’s bill.