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Attorney Fees

Who Pays Defense Base Act Attorney Fees?

Who pays for my attorney in my DBA case? This is a question we are often asked when discussing cases with potential clients. Likewise, it is a question we often preemptively answer when it comes to interviewing a new potential client, as it is a question you need know the complete and honest answer to…

Who pays for your DBA attorney if you’ve been injured at work? Answer: the insurance company.

Often times this discussion prompts the follow-up question: Is there any contingency fee on my DBA case settlement?

Answer: Absolutely not! DBA representation is zero contingency fees based in the representation of injured workers, and anyone charging a contingency fee is both unethical, and violating the law – and ultimately just sad, as it is really not necessary as you will see below.

The Defense Base Act has a “fee-shifting” mechanism built into the statute. It is under Section 928 of the Longshore Act (aka the Defense Base Act). Section 928 has special requirements that serve as a trigger for when and how the insurance company must pay the injured workers’ attorney fees. This fee-shifting mechanism is an incentivize the insurance companies to play fair, pay claims, and limit the costs of litigation all around. However, one thing you can always rely on is for insurance companies to deny claims, limit claims, or in some way, try to save themselves money (aka limit some benefit to the injured worker should be getting). Thus, any good DBA attorney will trigger the application of the fee-shifting mechanism thorough great representation for all rights and benefits the injured workers should be getting. It is really that simple. To reiterate: DBA attorneys should NEVER be charging fees directly to the injured worker.

Now for some more unfortunate truth: There are some personal injury attorneys in the industry who are (a) charging a contingency fee to their clients and/or (b) demanding some form of payment upfront or during the case for their services. If you speak with an attorney or law firm where this is what they told you, end the relationship with that law firm immediately, and move on to an attorney who knows the law and isn’t taking your money!

At Benner Law Firm, we have literally never sent a bill, charged a contingency fee, or collected an attorney fee from a single DBA client. Ever. And we never will – we don’t need to. The insurance companies, being who they are, make fee-shifting part of the program (unfortunately) in each case. We even have an agreement when we sign up a new client/case that everyone signs stating, among other agreements, that we – Benner Law Firm – will never send a bill for our services to the client and that they understand our attorney fees are NOT coming out of their case via contingency fee arrangement. When you WIN, we WIN and that is all that matters. The happy client is the reason we get up every day and slog through the B.S. that can be Defense Base Act litigation.

We are not in the business of snaking clients away from other law firms (karma is real), but would have no qualms about helping someone in an illegal contingency-fee arrangement with their lawyer. If you would like to talk about your situation or have any further questions about this issue, please give us a call, and Craig will be happy to explain in further detail, as obviously a website doesn’t count as legal advice, nor is it possible to discuss all the intricacies of this subject on one webpage (it literally requires a book …coming soon). Happy to help if we can. Thanks for reading.


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