New Iowa Law Significantly Affects Worker's Compensation Attorneys

Aside from the severe effects on the injured worker that will come as a result of the new worker's compensation law in Iowa, attorneys representing injured workers in worker's compensation claims will not be able to collect their usual 1/3 contingent fees in the same way.  It is unclear exactly how that portion of the law will ultimately play out, but the language requires that an attorney "shall only recover a fee based on the amount of compensation that the attorney demonstrates would not have been paid to the employee but for the efforts of the attorney."  Aside from its ambiguity, this could potentially turn the injured worker against his or her own attorney when they dispute the amount of the attorney's fee.   Additionally, attorneys are no longer allowed to recover fees based on the amount of benefits "voluntarily paid or agreed to be paid" to an employee for temporary or permanent disability.  This will work in favor of the worker by allowing him or her to keep more of their benefits, but whether these benefits were actually voluntarily paid or not may not be as clear as the law would make it seem.  This could result in attorneys successfully obtaining temporary or permanent benefits for their clients, and being unable to collect any fees for their services in doing so.  This is a significant drawback for attorneys and will most certainly lead to plaintiff's attorneys thinking about whether it is worth their time and effort to get involved in some worker's compensation cases. These are only some of the many changes to the law, and it will take time to determine exactly how each change will affect the workers and attorneys in Iowa.

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