2016 Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 8 - Labor and Industry
Labor Ii - Workers' Compensation and Related Provisions
Article 43 - Procedure
Part 4 - Enforcement and Penalties
§ 8-43-403. Attorney fees
(1) No contingent fee shall be applied to any medical benefits that have been previously incurred and will be paid to the claimant or directly to the medical care provider, in a permanent disability award, either by admission or settlement. In the event that medical benefits are the only contested issue, the fee agreement shall provide for reasonable fees calculated on a per-hour basis or, subject to approval by the director, may provide for a contingent fee not to exceed the limitations imposed by this section. On unappealed contested cases, a contingent fee exceeding twenty percent of the amount of contested benefits shall be presumed to be unreasonable. At the request of either an employee or the employee's attorney, the director shall determine what portion of the benefits awarded were contested, or the reasonableness of the fee charged by such attorney, or both. At the request of the employer or its insurance carrier or the attorney for either of them, the director shall determine the reasonableness of the fee charged by the attorney for the insurance carrier. No request for determination of the reasonableness of fees shall be considered by the director if received later than one hundred eighty days after the issuance of the final order, judgment, or opinion disposing of the last material issue in the case and the expiration of any right to review or appeal therefrom. In making this determination, the director shall consider fees normally charged by attorneys for cases requiring the same amount of time and skill and may decrease or increase the fee payable to such attorney. If the director finds that a review by the industrial claim appeals office or an appeal to the court of appeals or to the supreme court was perfected or if the director finds that such attorney reasonably devoted an extraordinary amount of time to the case, the director may award or approve a contingent fee or other fee in a percentage or amount that exceeds twenty percent of the amount of contested benefits. In determining the reasonableness of fees charged by an attorney for an employer or employer's insurance carrier, the director shall compare the fees of such attorney with the fees charged by the claimant's attorney in the same case and shall not approve an amount substantially greater than the reasonable amount charged by the said claimant's attorney or, if the claimant did not prevail, the reasonable amount the said claimant's attorney would have charged had the claimant prevailed, unless the director finds, based on a showing by the attorney for the employer or carrier, that higher fees are objectively justifiable. Legal costs not found reasonable shall not be allowed as an expense in fixing premium rates by the commissioner of insurance.
(2) Any attorney who represents any party in a workers' compensation case shall provide the party with a written fee agreement which sets forth, in full, the attorney's specific fee arrangement, including the criteria upon which the attorney bases his hourly or set fee and the circumstances in which any modifications or adjustments to such fee will be made, and specifying whether the client will be charged for the attorney's expenses or advances made by the attorney on behalf of the party, including without limitation costs of copying, research, telephone calls, postage, and any other expenses incident to the litigation which the attorney may be ethically bound to undertake on behalf of the party pursuant to law or pursuant to any court rule including the code of professional responsibility as adopted by the supreme court of Colorado. Contingent fee agreements shall be in conformity with all applicable provisions of the said code or of rules of the supreme court, and, in addition, such agreements shall set forth the provisions of this section in easy to understand language in at least ten-point bold-faced type. No such fee agreement may be enforced against any party unless it complies with the requirements of this section and is signed by both parties. Any attempt by an attorney who intentionally does not comply with this section and who seeks to enforce a fee agreement which does not comply with the requirements of this section shall be presumed to be a violation of the code of professional responsibility as adopted by the supreme court of Colorado.
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