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33 U.S. Code § 928 - Fees for services

(a) Attorney’s fee; successful prosecution of claim

If the employer or carrier declines to pay any compensation on or before the thirtieth day after receiving written notice of a claim for compensation having been filed from the deputy commissioner, on the ground that there is no liability for compensation within the provisions of this chapter and the person seeking benefits shall thereafter have utilized the services of an attorney at law in the successful prosecution of his claim, there shall be awarded, in addition to the award of compensation, in a compensation order, a reasonable attorney’s fee against the employer or carrier in an amount approved by the deputy commissioner, Board, or court, as the case may be, which shall be paid directly by the employer or carrier to the attorney for the claimant in a lump sum after the compensation order becomes final.

(b) Attorney’s fee; successful prosecution for additional compensation; independent medical evaluation of disability controversy; restriction of other assessments

If the employer or carrier pays or tenders payment of compensation without an award pursuant to section 914(a) and (b) of this title, and thereafter a controversy develops over the amount of additional compensation, if any, to which the employee may be entitled, the deputy commissioner or Board shall set the matter for an informal conference and following such conference the deputy commissioner or Board shall recommend in writing a disposition of the controversy. If the employer or carrier refuse [1] to accept such written recommendation, within fourteen days after its receipt by them, they shall pay or tender to the employee in writing the additional compensation, if any, to which they believe the employee is entitled. If the employee refuses to accept such payment or tender of compensation, and thereafter utilizes the services of an attorney at law, and if the compensation thereafter awarded is greater than the amount paid or tendered by the employer or carrier, a reasonable attorney’s fee based solely upon the difference between the amount awarded and the amount tendered or paid shall be awarded in addition to the amount of compensation. The foregoing sentence shall not apply if the controversy relates to degree or length of disability, and if the employer or carrier offers to submit the case for evaluation by physicians employed or selected by the Secretary, as authorized in section 907(e) of this title and offers to tender an amount of compensation based upon the degree or length of disability found by the independent medical report at such time as an evaluation of disability can be made. If the claimant is successful in review proceedings before the Board or court in any such case an award may be made in favor of the claimant and against the employer or carrier for a reasonable attorney’s fee for claimant’s counsel in accord with the above provisions. In all other cases any claim for legal services shall not be assessed against the employer or carrier.

(c) Approval; payment; lien

In all cases fees for attorneys representing the claimant shall be approved in the manner herein provided. If any proceedings are had before the Board or any court for review of any action, award, order, or decision, the Board or court may approve an attorney’s fee for the work done before it by the attorney for the claimant. An approved attorney’s fee, in cases in which the obligation to pay the fee is upon the claimant, may be made a lien upon the compensation due under an award; and the deputy commissioner, Board, or court shall fix in the award approving the fee, such lien and manner of payment.

(d) Costs; witnesses’ fees and mileage; prohibition against diminution of compensation to claimant

In cases where an attorney’s fee is awarded against an employer or carrier there may be further assessed against such employer or carrier as costs, fees and mileage for necessary witnesses attending the hearing at the instance of claimant. Both the necessity for the witness and the reasonableness of the fees of expert witnesses must be approved by the hearing officer, the Board, or the court, as the case may be. The amounts awarded against an employer or carrier as attorney’s fees, costs, fees and mileage for witnesses shall not in any respect affect or diminish the compensation payable under this chapter.

(e) Unapproved fees; solicitation; penalty

A person who receives a fee, gratuity, or other consideration on account of services rendered as a representative of a claimant, unless the consideration is approved by the deputy commissioner, administrative law judge, Board, or court, or who makes it a business to solicit employment for a lawyer, or for himself, with respect to a claim or award for compensation under this chapter, shall, upon conviction thereof, for each offense be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or be imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(Mar. 4, 1927, ch. 509, § 28, 44 Stat. 1438; Pub. L. 92–576, § 13, Oct. 27, 1972, 86 Stat. 1259; Pub. L. 98–426, § 17, Sept. 28, 1984, 98 Stat. 1650.)

[1]  So in original. Probably should be “refuses”.
Editorial Notes

1984—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 98–426 substituted “a fee, gratuity, or other consideration” for “any fees, other consideration, or any gratuity”; “with respect to” for “in respect of”; and “both” for “by both such fine and imprisonment”; and inserted “under this chapter,” after “compensation”.

1972—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 92–576 substituted provisions respecting payment of attorney’s fee for successful prosecution of claim for former provisions respecting approval by deputy commissioner or court of claims for legal services or for any other services rendered in respect of a claim or award for compensation and for lien upon the compensation in the manner and to the extent fixed by the deputy commissioner or the court. See subsec. (c).

Subsecs. (b) to (e). Pub. L. 92–576 added subsecs. (b) to (d), redesignated former subsec. (b) as (e), and in subsec. (e), as so redesignated, struck out item (1) and (2) designations before “who”, substituted “services rendered as a representative of a claimant” for “services so rendered”, and included approval by the Board.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date of 1984 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 98–426 effective Sept. 28, 1984, see section 28(e)(1) of Pub. L. 98–426, set out as a note under section 901 of this title.

Effective Date of 1972 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 92–576 effective 30 days after Oct. 27, 1972, see section 22 of Pub. L. 92–576, set out as a note under section 902 of this title.