Do You Have to Pay Your Lawyer (Contingency Fees) If You Waive Future Benefits from the Employer ?

In Gingerich v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, 825 A.2d 788 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003), the Court concluded that a claimant could not terminate her ongoing liability for attorney's fees under the 20% contingency fee agreement she had signed, simply by waiving future benefits from her employer. Judge Friedman, writing for the Court, reasoned that "a compromise and release agreement only extinguishes liability which is claimed to exist under the Act where the person with the claim specifically agrees to relieve the liable person from that liability." Gingerich, 825 A.2d at 791. The Court concluded claimant could not unilaterally cease her obligation to counsel and, since counsel had not agreed to relieve claimant of her liability to pay for counsel's services, that liability remained. Id.