If I Fire My Workers’ Compensation Attorney, What Will I Owe Him/her?
This question comes up all the time since many of my clients hire another lawyer prior to coming to me for their job injuries since I do not advertise but many lawyers do, these days.
The fired lawyer must file a WC-108, Attorney fee Lien, within 20 days of being fired by the client. A late filing voids any fee whatsoever.
The good news is that even if the filing is timely, you, the client/injured worker, owes that attorney no fee at all. The fired attorney needs to look to the new attorney to get any pay at all. You will owe your former attorney only for his actual expenses if he/she ordered medical records, copies of depositions, etc.
I must deal with the attorney fee lien at the end of your case. Most fired attorneys think a filing of a WC-108 Affidavit is a negotiating game with the new lawyer. It is not so. I first talk to my client and find out how much my new client believes their former lawyer actually accomplished on the case. It is usually far less than what the lawyer claims on their Affidavit. (I have had a Judge dress down a lawyer in my presence about how inflated their claim for fees was. We settled that fee lien for 10% of their stated values 30 minutes later).
The bottom line here is: the injured worker is not to be “punished” for hiring the wrong lawyer at first and only discovering so after months of inactivity in their case.