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How Much Does a Lawyer Get on a Settlement? 

Personal injury lawyers, like the ones who represent individuals injured in car accidents (in Des Moines, IA), typically work on a 'contingency basis.' This means that the lawyer's fees for representing a client are deducted from the settled compensation in the client's case. Otherwise, these fees are deducted from the damages awarded from a favorable verdict. This is in the rare instance that this case makes its way to a court trial. 

However, if the client isn’t awarded any compensation and the outcome isn’t favorable, the lawyer doesn’t collect any fees. 

Nonetheless, the exact fees lawyers are entitled to can be complex. That’s why all individuals involved in a car accident and seeking a Des Moines car accident attorney should consider a few points before hiring legal representation. 

How Lawyer Fees Work

Contingency Fee Percentages 

The majority of contingency fee agreements give a lawyer between 33 and 40 percent of a settlement. However, individuals can always attempt to negotiate an alternative agreement or reduced percentage. In most cases, personal injury lawyers dealing with car accidents in Des Moines, IA, receive one-third of any award or settlement. 

An example of this would be a client receiving $30,000 from a fault party’s insurance company as a settlement offer. In this case, the client receives $20,000 while the lawyer receives $10,000. 

Alternative Options

Most lawyers draw up a fee agreement where the contingency fee percentage associated with these legal services varies. These percentages are dependent on what stage in the resolution process this case is settled and is commonly referred to as the ‘sliding scale.’ 

An example of this could be a lawyer sending a demand letter to the responsible party. If a client has a good case, the defendant might make a counteroffer, which causes further negotiations. Thus, a fair settlement might be agreed upon before having to file a personal injury lawsuit. In such instances, a lawyer's fee percentage on this settlement might be the standard 33 percent or less. 

However, a lawyer might charge a higher rate if a lawsuit is filed. Attorneys dealing with a car accident case in Des Moines, IA, might charge up to 40 percent for legal fees if this settlement is only received once filing a lawsuit. 

This percentage can increase even more if the case reaches the trial stage. That’s why individuals should consider the state of their case before rejecting a pre-suit settlement offer, as it might become costlier. This is because a lawyer’s contingency percentage generally increases as the case progresses. 

Expenses Of Legal Services

The Expenses and Costs of These Legal Services 

Most lawyers dealing with car accidents in Des Moines, IA, cover the costs and expenses of such legal assistance while the case is in progress. Once a settlement is reached, a lawyer deducts the accumulated expenses from a client’s share of this compensation. It’s rare for these attorneys to charge their clients for any fees as these expenses become due. 

Such costs might include: 


  • Expert witness fees

  • Medical records

  • Filing fees 

  • Trial exhibits 

  • Postage 

  • Police reports 

  • Depositions


Expenses and costs can become quite hefty, especially If this case is settled after going to trial. From these costs and the contingency fee percentage, a lawyer might be entitled to between 45 and 60 percent of a client’s settlement. 

Receiving the Settlement Check 

It’s common for a lawyer to receive a settlement check, as this ensures that they get paid for these legal services. Most personal injury attorneys only take these contingency cases commonly associated with car accidents in Des Moines, IA. Thus, they risk not getting paid if they don’t receive this money. 

After receiving this award, a lawyer contacts their client and offers an itemized list of what they are deducting from this amount to cover the attorney’s expenses, costs, and contingency fees. If this client disputes specific charges, a lawyer might place this disputed amount in a trust account until a resolution has been found. 

How much a lawyer receives on a settlement varies from case to case. All aspects of car accident cases need to be considered when searching for a lawyer in Des Moines, IA. This is to ensure the best payment agreement for these legal services is reached. 

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