Iowa personal injury attorneys typically do not take any money from a client. Most work on a contingency fee basis. Unless the lawyer wins the case, a payment is not collected. If the attorney wins the case, a percentage of the settlement or award is removed and paid to the attorney at that point.
As a result, personal injury attorneys have to be selective. That contingency fee needs to cover the hours the attorney spends interviewing witnesses, negotiating with the other party, filing claims, and traveling. The percentage may vary between practices, but the national average is 33% to 40%. If the settlement or award is $5,000 and the attorney gets the standard 33% the attorney would get $1,650 from the settlement or award. If it’s taken the attorney 100 hours of work to get that settlement or award, it breaks down to a maximum of $16.50 per hour. That’s less than the $39 an hour Salary.com estimates personal injury attorneys make.
Considering these factors, what are the odds that an attorney will take your case? What percentage of cases do Iowa personal injury attorneys take on? It may not be as high as you think. Attorneys need money coming in order to pay their bills. They cannot fill their schedules with cases that may be hard to win. Some attorneys balance contingency fee cases with others there they get a retainer. Others focus on easy cases that can be resolved quickly while also being financially rewarding. It’s in your best interest to make sure your case is one that an attorney will want to take on.
What Attorneys Look For
So what makes a case appealing to a personal injury attorney? How can you tell if it’s worth seeing an attorney or not? You shouldn’t immediately give up hope. Your case may not be strong enough for an attorney, but you need an expert to tell you that.
The attorneys at Trial Lawyers for Justice provide free consultations. You’ll get an honest opinion without paying anything. If the attorneys cannot help you, they may be able to refer you to someone who can. If you see another lawyer, you might find them referring you to TL4J. The law firm is one of the best trial firms in the Midwest and gets a lot of recommendations. These are some of the things we look for.
#1 – Give Specific Details and Show You’re Prepared
Be very specific about the details surrounding your complaint. If you were in a car accident caused by another driver, have supporting documents like witness statements, a police report, dashcam footage, and photographs of the scene. If you have a medical malpractice complaint, be ready to provide medical paperwork showing what was done, what went wrong, and what other doctors and medical professionals have said needs to be done next.
You want to go into the lawyer’s office armed with documents supporting your claim. Have letters from your boss detailing how much time you’ve missed from work. Bring medical bills and doctor’s notes. Provide insurance statements and settlement offers. Bring police reports or business accident reports if you fell within a store, restaurant, or other business. Be prepared to back up your claim with evidence that you’ve done everything you can to handle the matter before contacting an attorney.
#2 – Do Not Let Ego Take Over
When you’re talking to the attorney, do not become egotist or take on a prima donna attitude. Remember that the consultation is not costing you a penny. You may not love what the attorney has to say. Remain gracious and be thankful for any advice the attorney offers you.
If you’re rude or dismissive, you’re not going to win any friends. If you’re demanding, it’s also going to turn off prospective attorneys. Be friendly, ask questions if you have them, and stop to listen for answers. Don’t cut the attorney off if you have additional questions. Wait until the attorney stops and ask at that point.
#3 – Follow the Attorney’s Recommendations
If the attorney refers you to someone else, follow through with that recommendation. If the attorney asks you to provide more paperwork before deciding to take your case, gather whatever is needed as quickly as possible. Don’t leave the Iowa personal injury attorney waiting for days or weeks. When you finally return, you may find it’s too late. You’re not the only person out there and an attorney won’t wait an indefinite length of time for you to return with the requested information.
#4 – Don’t Take It Personally
If the attorney does tell you he or she cannot help you, do not take it personally. You may have a valid case, but the attorney simply cannot help you for one of many reasons. The attorney could have too many other cases at the moment. Adding your case to the schedule would limit the time the attorney could spend calling witnesses, gathering evidence, and calling other attorneys or insurance companies to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
The attorney may specialize in a specific subset of personal injury law and lacks the experience needed in your situation. If the attorney took your case, you wouldn’t have the expertise of a skilled attorney in the subset you need such as employment law, medical malpractice, or slip and falls.
Lawyers are bound by ethical guidelines. If the attorney found that you wanted to sue one of the firm’s former clients, it’s a conflict of interest. The attorney is bound by guidelines that prevent him or her from suing that former client.
Those are just a small sampling of reasons a law firm may not take your case. An upcoming vacation could be causing a time conflict that that attorney cannot ignore. The attorney may not currently have the necessary cash for the expert witnesses, court filings, stenographers, mileage, or postage that’s needed to take on your case.
Don’t take it personally. If you are told no, accept it. Ask if the attorney can refer you to someone else. If not, don’t be afraid to reach out to other attorneys and see what they say.
Things to Keep In Mind
Before you contact a personal injury attorney, remember that personal injury cases have to be filed within the two-year statute of limitations. If you’ve waited too long, you jeopardize being able to file. You have two years from the time of the accident or incident. There are a couple of exceptions to that rule.
If the defendant left the state, the amount of time the defendant has lived outside of Iowa is added to that two years. Say the defendant moved to another state for a year, you’d add that year to the two years and have three years to file. Minors have one year from the time they become an adult. People with mental illness also have an extra year from the time they are considered competent.
Our attorneys excel in personal injury cases. Like most Iowa personal injury lawyers, we do carefully handpick the cases we take on. Our award-winning attorneys don’t take them all, but it’s always best to ask. The clients we have represented have been part of the $1.5 billion in wins we’ve secured for victims and their families. If you have a personal injury case, give us a call and let us see if we can help you.