How Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Get Paid If the Injured Worker Is Totally Disabled in New Jersey?
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How does a workers’ compensation lawyer get paid if the injured worker is totally disabled in New Jersey?
Most workers’ compensation lawyers take cases on a contingency basis. The amount of the lawyers’ fee is set by the Court when the award is entered but cannot exceed 20 percent of the award, meaning that an injured worker will not need to pay for any up-front costs and will only pay for the lawyer’s services if they obtain workers’ compensation benefits and a settlement award on their behalf.
If an injured worker is totally disabled in a workplace accident or due to a work-related illness, they will either receive Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits or Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
Workers who miss more than seven days of work due to their illness or injury can receive Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are 70 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum of 75 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (which was $1,259.82 in 2020). TTD benefits typically end once the worker goes back to work or reaches their Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is a term referring to the point at which an injured worker will no longer benefit from additional treatment. Once workers exhaust their TTD benefits by reaching their MMI, they may be eligible for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits or Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If workers cannot return to work due to their injuries or disability, they can obtain Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. PTD benefits are 70 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum of 75 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage. As of 2021, the maximum amount of weekly PTD benefits is $969. PTD benefits are initially approved for 450 weeks; however, if the worker can show they are still unable to work at the end of the 450 weeks, they may continue to receive benefits.
Many workers’ comp cases are settled for a lump-sum amount rather than the insurance company providing ongoing benefits. In this case, a lawyer will receive a portion of the settlement amount. Generally, state law caps the percentage of the attorneys’ fee for a workers’ compensation case to 20 percent of the benefits recovered. In some cases, the employer (or their insurance company) is responsible for 60 percent of the lawyer’s fees, and the injured worker is responsible for 40 percent of the fee. For example, if an injured worker received $10,000 in workers’ comp benefits, the lawyer would receive $2,000 in fees. Of those, the insurance company would pay $1,200, and the worker would pay $800 out of their settlement proceeds. Of course, if the case did not end in the worker obtaining workers’ comp benefits, the lawyer would get nothing.
Finally, most workers’ compensation lawyers advance all claim-related costs, so their clients do not need to worry about the cost of bringing a claim. If a worker gets approved for benefits, the judge can allocate these costs between the injured worker and the insurance company. This means that an injured worker may not need to pay for all claims-related costs, even if they successfully obtain benefits.
If you have been injured in a New Jersey workplace accident, reach out to the Todd J. Leonard Law Firm for immediate assistance. We offer free consultations to accident victims and accept workers’ comp cases on a contingency basis, meaning there is never a fee unless we can help you obtain benefits and a settlement award on your behalf. You can reach us at 973-920-7900 or through our online form.
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