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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

What Is the Average Contingency Fee of a Personal Injury Lawyer in Iowa?

Personal injury cases are complex and overwhelming for plaintiffs. They may find themselves injured, out of work, and with mounting medical bills. In such situations, personal injury lawyers can be a beacon of light.


A personal injury lawyer can help clients navigate the complex legal landscape and secure the compensation they need and deserve. However, hiring an attorney can be expensive. That's where contingency fee agreements come in.


Contingency fee agreements are between the personal injury lawyer and the client. Under this arrangement, the attorney agrees to represent the plaintiff's personal injury issue on a contingency fee basis, which means the lawyer won't charge the claimant an hourly fee.


Instead, the attorney's fees are contingent upon the case's outcome. If the client wins the trial, the lawyer takes a percentage of the recovery settlement or court award. However, the attorney isn't paid if the plaintiff loses the case.


What Percentage Do Most Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?

What Percentage Do Most Personal Injury Lawyers Charge?


The contingency fee percentage varies depending on the individual situation, but the average fee percentage in Iowa is 30% to 40%.


This means that if a car accident victim, for example, receives a settlement of $30,000, and their contingency fee agreement with their lawyer is 33%, the attorney would receive $10,000 as their legal fees.


The plaintiff can keep $20,000 from the other party's insurance company if the personal injury case settles successfully.


Claimants should always discuss the contingency fee arrangement with their personal injury lawyer before signing any deal. With such payment methods, clients can access quality legal representation without the burden of financial strain.


One benefit of a contingency fee agreement is that it gives clients peace of mind knowing that their personal injury attorney must get them the highest possible final settlement or court award.

This allows plaintiffs to focus on their recovery while their personal injury attorneys work diligently on their cases.


The lawyer will also receive the court award before the client, from which they will make necessary payments (i.e., clearing unpaid bills, hospital fees, and insurance costs). Lastly, the remaining settlement amount will be transferred to the plaintiffs' bank account only after the attorney makes all the deductions.


Clients can ask for an itemized list of expenses. They can also dispute the amount shown for discrepancies through the local bar association.


Expenses in a Personal Injury Case


Knowing that the contingency fee percentage is negotiable between the client and their lawyer is important. On top of that, it's worth noting that contingency fees may not cover other legal expenses in personal injury claims, such as court filing fees or expert witness fees.


These costs have to be paid separately by the plaintiff or deducted from the final settlement. The other expenses in a personal injury case include the following:

  • Additional court costs

  • Postage fees

  • Subpoena and complaint fees

However, clients don't necessarily have to pay the expenses mentioned above upfront. Instead, the lawyer working on the personal injury case on a contingency fee basis agrees to track the costs.

Also, the fee agreement can increase depending on the complexity of the personal injury case. While a personal injury attorney might settle for only 33% of the court award for an open-and-shut case (involving an insurance company), the rate can be higher if the claim goes to trial.


Five Situations That Result in a Personal Injury Case


This type of case is brought to attention when a person suffers harm due to someone else's negligence, reckless behavior, or intentional act. The incidents that can lead to personal injury cases include the following:

  1. Assault and Battery

These refer to the intentional infliction of harm on another person. Assault involves threatening or putting the victim in fear. On the other hand, battery refers to actual physical contact that causes harm to the other person.

  1. Car Accidents

Vehicle accidents are common and can result in broken bones, whiplash, or traumatic brain injuries. If another driver is at fault for the accident, a personal injury lawyer can help to seek compensation (on a contingency fee agreement) for medical expenses and lost wages.

The plaintiff can also file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company.

  1. Slip and Fall

Such incidents are common and can happen anywhere, whether in a grocery store or at someone's home. Property owners and managers have a duty to keep their premises safe for visitors. They may be liable for the damages if they fail to keep the area clean and unobstructed, resulting in someone else's injury.

  1. Medical Malpractice

If a doctor or healthcare provider breaches their duty of care, leading to harm, the victim can seek compensation for their pain and suffering.

  1. Dog Bites

If a pet owner is careless in controlling their dog and fails to prevent the bite, they might be responsible for the injuries caused. A personal injury lawyer might charge an hourly fee for such a straightforward case. However, clients can negotiate a contingency fee agreement for the attorney's legal services.


The Types of Cases Prohibiting Contingency Fees


Lawyers typically charge a contingency fee for simple and transparent cases. However, many states deem this fee arrangement illegal for complex trials involving:

  • Criminal cases

  • Domestic disputes

  • Divorces

Unlike most contingency fee agreements for personal injury claims, negotiating this payment method for the abovementioned cases is unethical. The attorney fees must be paid hourly for complex trials where the personal injury lawyers work harder than general.


Alternative Options to Contingency Fees


Personal injury cases can be costly and time-consuming, leaving many plaintiffs wondering how they will afford legal representation.


Contingency fees have long been a popular billing option for personal injury lawyers, with many attorneys charging a percentage of their client's final settlement or court award as payment for their services. However, contingency fees are not the only option available.

  • Retainer Fees

These are payments made upfront to a personal injury lawyer to secure their services. This fee is typically paid at the outset of the case and covers the lawyer's time and expenses throughout the legal battle.


Retainer fees can be attractive for clients who want to ensure their lawyer commits to their case and invests the necessary resources to secure a positive outcome.

  • Flat Fees

The attorney's fee can be flat or fixed depending on the simplicity of the case. Most lawyers negotiate this payment method for routine legal issues, such as uncontested traffic tickets, straightforward divorce claims, and criminal record expungement.


This fee is paid regardless of the case's outcome, whether the client receives a settlement or loses their claim in court.

  • Hourly Fees

Another billing option for attorneys is hourly fees. As the name suggests, such legal fees arrangement charges clients based on the hours spent working on their case.


Hourly fees can be a good option for claimants who want to closely manage their legal costs and clearly understand how much their attorney dedicates to their case. However, hourly charges can quickly add up, and personal injury clients should keep track of their billable time to avoid being surprised by additional attorney fees.


Switching Lawyers in the Middle of Personal Injury Cases


Clients can switch lawyers in the middle of a claim. However, the previous attorney might pause the case and seek unpaid fees if the plaintiff fails to uphold the contingent fee agreement.


On top of that, the former lawyer can also sue the client for the expenses incurred. In this case, the attorney can deduct the amount sued from the final settlement amount.


Is It Expensive to Hire a Lawyer in Iowa?

Is It Expensive to Hire a Lawyer in Iowa?


When it comes to personal injury cases, victims often wonder whether hiring a lawyer in Iowa is expensive. This depends on several factors, including the law firm the plaintiff chooses, the fee arrangements, and the litigation expenses involved. Tom Fowler Law can also answer questions like, "What does a personal injury lawyer handle?"


Iowa law firms typically offer free consultations to discuss payment options with their clients. During this meeting, the lawyer will explain the different fee arrangements available for the personal injury matter.


The legal system in Iowa allows for contingency fee agreements, which means that the lawyer's fees depend on the case's outcome.


It is important to note that contingency fee arrangements do not include court filing fees and other expenses related to the victims' case. Sometimes, the personal injury law firm in Des Moines may finance these costs, and the client may pay them back from the settlement. However, this is usually outlined in the fee agreement.


Hourly fees may be an option for some clients, especially when the case is complex and requires additional time and resources from the law firm. However, this arrangement is uncommon for personal injury cases.


Final Words


When hiring a lawyer, it is essential to understand the fee arrangement and the cost involved. Clients can rest assured by opting for a contingency fee agreement, knowing they will not be charged unless their claim is won. This payment method is particularly beneficial for victims of injury who may not have the financial resources to pursue their case.


While the cost of hiring an attorney may seem daunting at first, many law firms offer free consultations and contingency fee options that can help clients get the legal representation they need without breaking the bank.

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