What Workers’ Compensation Costs Are Deducted From My Award?

A businessman holding two blocks with workers' compensation

Some workers' compensation costs are deducted from injured workers' benefit awards, including attorney fees, doctors' liens, Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance repayments, and permanent disability advances. An overview of these deductions can help injured workers understand how they impact workers' compensation claim settlements.

Workers' Compensation Costs and Fees for Attorneys

Workers' compensation lawyers in Iowa accept work injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This prevents clients from having to make upfront payments for legal representation. Attorneys will instead receive a percentage of the total amount awarded to the client when the case is resolved. 

Typically, an attorney's fee agreement will detail the percentage that determines the contingency fee, but officials such as workers' comp judges will likely need to approve the total amount paid. A work injury attorney may also charge for specific costs regarding the case, including requests for medical records and fees for expert witnesses.

Medicare/Medicaid Repayments and Other Medical Costs

Recipients of compensation for work-related injury awards will need to repay any health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare payments made to healthcare providers that treated work-related injuries while the employer's insurance company refused to cover them. These healthcare channels are considered “secondary payers,” meaning they don't need to cover workers' compensation medical bills that other insurers would cover.

Additionally, award recipients may need to set aside part of the award to go toward future medical expenses under a Medicare Set-Aside Account. This would help cover bills that Medicare would ordinarily cover. A workers' compensation attorney may be able to help navigate this often complicated process.

Doctors' Liens

The workers' comp award may also include a dollar amount to cover medical expenses that insurers haven't paid because the insurance company refused to pay, or they denied the claim. When medical professionals agree to receive payment at a later time, funds are extracted from a portion of the workers' comp settlement. This is commonly referred to as a doctor's lien. This helps ensure that any unpaid bills will come from the award.

Other Deductions

In addition to these workers' compensation cost deductions, other deductions could include unemployment compensation, overdue child support, and taxes.

Photo of Niko Pothitakis
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.