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Attorney’s fees in federal workers’ compensation cases are controlled by the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Basically, the federal government does not want lawyers to get rich on their employees. We do not say this lightly. The goal is to put and/or keep as much money as possible in the pockets of the Claimant and not the pockets of the Claimant’s lawyer or representative.
The injured federal employee who decides to retain Attorney Douglas Sughrue can expect to only pay us for work that we actually do. This billing policy is not special, it is required by FECA. Handling injured federal employees’ cases cannot be done on a contingency fee basis—meaning the often used phrase, “There’s no fee unless we get money for you…” does not apply. In the end, more money goes into the Claimant’s pocket in the federal workers’ compensation arena. In state workers’ compensation cases, the lawyer’s fee is 20% of the recovery for as long as benefits are received by the claimant regardless of the continued level of involvement of the lawyer.
FECA and other federal regulations requires the Claimant pay the attorney’s fee. The federal workers’ compensation lawyer can only bill Claimant for work actually performed on an hourly basis. Additionally, no money can be received by the lawyer until the Claimant and OWCP agree that the fees billed and money collected can be received. The lawyer can deposit the Claimant’s money into the attorney’s IOLTA account which is a bank account held in trust for the attorney’s clients. Once approved, the lawyer can then transfer the money from the IOLTA Claimant trust account to the operating account. Expenses incurred on behalf of the Claimant can be reimbursed without reference to the IOLTA trust account. Additionally, pursuant to the Representation Agreement all substantial expenses shall be paid by the Claimant prior to incurring said expense.
Attorney Douglas Sughrue charge a refundable retainer simultaneously with the signing of a Representation Agreement. The injured federal employee will then receive detailed bills every two weeks describing the worked performed on the Claimant’s behalf. If a bill is not received by a Client of Attorney Douglas Sughrue, then work may not have been done on behalf of that particular client. Once the retainer held is escrow falls below the agreed upon minimum level, the Client is expected to make an additional deposit to return the refundable retainer to the initial agreed upon amount. Additionally, Clients agree as part of the representation agreement to timely sign and return a copy of the detailed billing statement. The signing and returning of the billing statement permits Attorney Douglas Sughrue to move the amount of billed fees contained in that bill from the client’s IOLTA trust account to their operating account. Pursuant to the Representation Agreement, Clients that do not keep the retainer at the agreed upon level may have their representation terminated. Also, Clients which do not timely sign and return the billing statements risk termination of representation.