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L&I Attorney Fees, Case Costs, and Referrals


L&I attorney fees at our law firm and most workers compensation firms are based on a contingent fee agreement. This means that our attorney fees are a percentage of the money the attorney recovers for you. No recovery means no attorney fees. Contingency fee agreements must be in writing.  No matter how much you trust your new lawyer be sure to carefully read any fee agreement put in front of you.  Ask questions.  It’s the smart thing to do.

How much attorney fee is too much?  L&I attorney fees are limited in three ways; by statute, by reasonableness, and by best practices.

  • By statute L&I attorney fees are limited to 30% of the increase in award secured by attorney services. RCW 51.52.120
  • Reasonableness. Pursuant to the statute and the Washington State Bar Association, attorney fees must be reasonable.
  • Best Practices. Attorney’s informally set additional limits on their own fees based on what they believe is fair.  For example for time loss benefits secured by attorney services, 30% of past due time loss  and 15% of ongoing time loss is considered fair by most attorneys. However, 30% of ongoing time loss is probably not fair in most cases.  Have a discussion with your attorney.  If your current attorney or the attorney you are thinking of hiring charges you too much, say something.


Case costs are different than attorney fees. Case costs are expenses incurred in the handling of your case. For example, an injury case needs medical records.  We order the medical records, we review the records, and we use these records as part of your case; we do not charge for that.  The doctor however charges for a copy of the records, that charge is a case cost. The client is responsible to eventually pay this case cost.

Some lawyers want clients to pay costs in advance, some want costs paid as the case proceeds, and some  will advance costs until the end of the case when money is awarded. In our firm, we are successful recovering money for the client, in almost every case. If we advance costs for our clients, we are repaid  out of the money we make L&I pay you.

If you hire a lawyer, the fee agreement presented to you will provide the specifics about attorney fees and case costs. Read it with care. Ask questions. Know your rights.


Information for free.  This information on this website is provided as a free service, so you can make informed choices about your L&I claim. If you contact us, we will do our best to answer your initial phone or e-mail quesions, about injury claims, at no charge to you.

Referrals. Christopher Sharpe is the “of counsel” attorney at the Walthew Law Firm. He refers all clients needing active L&I legal assistance to the partners and associates at the Walthew Law Firm.

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