Questions We Are Asked Each Week By Clients...

We are often asked questions like how much should the insurance company pay?  How are my weekly benefits calculated?, etc.  So we have put together some of the questions we here the most and the answers to them.  We hope this helps you avoid making a mistake in your Iowa personal injury, car accident, dog bite, work injury or other injury matter.

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  • What Type of Neck Injuries are Common Work Injuries?

    Neck injuries happen at work for many reasons including a traumatic fall, overuse because the job requires you to look up or down most of the day, turning motions that can cause traumatic or cumulative injuries, getting struck from behind, etc. The most common types of injuries involve cervical strains (muscle and ligament damage), herniated discs, bulging discs, fractured vertebrates, and sometimes even paralysis.

    What type of treatment is required for a cervical strain?

    A cervical strain basically means that the muscles and/or ligaments in your neck have been stretched too far and damaged. Most commonly you will be prescribed physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. The majority of cervical strains will get better with time and often you will be able to return to normal activities within a few months. However, some cervical strain conditions become chronic which is defined as lasting 6 months or more. Often these are associated with muscle spasms, significant pain, loss of range of motion, and work restrictions. There are pain management doctors who can try to treat this with trigger point injections, physical therapy, radiofrequency denervation (destroying portions of the nerves causing pain), and other pain management procedures.  

    What type of treatment is required for herniated or bulging discs?

    Sometimes treatment similar to a cervical strain is initially prescribed like physical therapy and medications, but it depends upon the severity of your symptoms. If you have a disc injury that is causing pain, loss of use, numbness, or otherwise affecting one or both of your hands and arms, then your condition may be very serious. Without timely surgical treatment, you could be left with permanent spinal cord damage. So if you are having what is called radicular symptoms (pain radiating into an extremity from the spine) you need to immediately seek medical care. An MRI is used to determine the extent of the damage of your disc and if it is pushing against your spinal cord causing additional symptoms. If your symptoms are not severe then it is likely your doctors will recommend an ESI (epidural steroid injection). An ESI is when a doctor injects medications into the area where your bulging or herniated disc is located. The medication is designed to reduce the inflammation in the area in order to relieve your symptoms. Keep in mind that an ESI can cause your blood sugar to increase and they can cause other side effects.

    If your symptoms are more serious or if you have one or more ESI's that do not help, then your doctor may recommend surgery. The most common type of neck surgery is a cervical fusion where the doctor puts in a cage to stabilize the area where your disc is herniated to relieve pressure on the nerves coming out from the spinal cord. They may also take a bone from your hip or use a cadaver bone to help stabilize the area. The doctor will also remove parts of your herniated or bulging discs to prevent further problems. A cervical fusion is a big surgery that takes months to heal from, but sometimes it is your only option to relieve the pain and prevent getting even worse.

    What type of treatment is required for a fractured vertebrate?

    This once again depends upon your symptoms and the severity of the injury. If you have sustained a burst fracture in your neck, then you may be dealing with some spinal cord damage leading to partial or total paralysis. Some people sustain only small fractures in their cervical vertebrates which can be treated with a hard brace or sometimes a cervical fusion surgery much like discussed above.

    If you would like more information about work-related neck injuries, the compensation you should receive, and the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights request a copy of our latest Iowa Workers' Compensation.  (*Click Here*). We offer our book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen too many hard-working Iowans taken advantage of by insurance adjusters trying to maximize insurance company profits.

    Note: In no way is this article intended to be medical advice or opinions. You should consult with your medical professionals for medical care and treatment. The above represents what we have seen after having represented more than a 1,000 injured workers in Iowa over the past 22 plus years.


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  • Can a Heart Attack be Considered a Work Injury?

    Under Iowa law, if you meet the medical and legal requirements then yes, a heart attack can be considered a work injury.  In order to prove that your heart attack was work-related, you must prove both medical and legal causation in order to recover for a heart attack. 

    How do I prove medical causation? 

    The medical causation part is done obtaining reports and taking the depositions of the injured workers treating doctors and often independent medical examiners who review records and conduct a physical examination, if possible. These doctors can include your family physician, cardiologist, occupational medicine physician, and others. It is very important that you or your lawyer obtain the opinions of your treating medical providers as soon as possible. Often, insurance companies will immediately contact your doctors once you bring a claim. They may not tell your doctor all the facts and may even lie to your doctor in an attempt to obtain an opinion letter that your heart attack is not work-related. The opinions of your treating medical providers are very important in proving your heart attack work injury claim. Also, once your doctors put in writing their opinions it can be difficult to get them to, later on, change that opinion. We help our clients by promptly meeting with their doctors to get the opinions that we need to prove the medical causation part of their case.    

    How do I prove legal causation?

    The legal causation part is a bit trickier and there are 3 ways to prove it: 

    (1) When heavy exertions ordinarily required by work are superimposed on a defective heart, aggravating or accelerating the preexisting condition.

    (2) Instances of an unusually existing diseased condition.

    (3) When the damage resulted from continued exertions required by the employment after the onset of the heart attack (compelled to continue working). 

    Below are some factual examples of injured workers proving their heart attack was work-related:

    The claimant drove a truck and also unloaded equipment for a recreation equipment company. He died at work while at an equipment shop. Deputy Commissioner awarded death benefits. 

    Claimant's proof focused on the first legal causation test set forth in Sondag and Riley.  The Deputy Commissioner held that medical causation was established and that Claimant's exertion at work on the date of death was greater than the exertion he experienced in his non-employment life. Prentice v. Miracle Recreation Equip. Co., File No. 1232407 (Arb. Dec. 1/11/01). 

    An over-the-road truck driver sustained a heart attack and it was found to be compensable as he was required to finish his load despite having chest pain. P.D.S.I. and Travelers Ins. Co. v. Peterson, 685 N.W.2d 627 (Iowa 2004). 

    Below are other factual examples of injured workers who failed to prove their heart attack was work-related:

    Claimant was a bridge builder, suffered a heart attack after day's work, and later died. Deputy Commissioner denied benefits. Commissioner affirmed. Claimant pursued this heart attack case primarily under the first two legal causation tests in Sondag and Riley. The Commissioner held that Claimant was not involved in any heavy physical or unusually strenuous activity on the date of death, and his work activity was not heavy when compared to his common non-work activity. Danger v. Welden Bros., Inc., File No. 1255002 (Arb. Dec. 3/06/01) (affirmed by Commissioner on 3/28/03). 

    Claimant truck driver suffered a heart attack after parking his truck and later died. Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner held that Claimant was not compelled to continue driving and denied benefits.  Hart v. Allied Sys., Ltd., 2002 WL 1585596 (Iowa App. 2002).

    As you can see, these cases are very fact-specific and it is a rare case that the workers' compensation insurance company will voluntarily pay benefits for a heart attack claim. If you or a loved one have sustained a heart attack that you think is work-related then you should immediately seek legal help from a qualified Iowa work comp lawyer. There is a timeline as short at 90 days for you to provide written notification to your employer that you are pursuing a work injury claim for the heart attack. Also, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to prove that the heart attack as work-related.  If you have questions or concerns we offer you a no-cost, no-risk work injury review so call now 641-792-3595.

    If you are not yet ready to call a lawyer but would like some more information about Iowa's workers' compensation system, then request your copy of our book entitled called “Iowa Workers’ Compensation- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includesDeadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work."  We offer our Iowa work injury book at no cost because we have seen too many hard-working Iowans from Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Ft. Dodge, Newton, Pella, and throughout the state of Iowa hurt at work job make mistakes which cost them thousands of dollars. Iowans hurt at work are beginning to realize that the insurance company is not there to help them and that they should learn about Iowa's workers' compensation laws. Finally, there is a book about Iowa's work injuries that you can review in the comfort of your own home. 

    Should I apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI)?

    It depends upon your age, the severity of your injuries, if you have done a valid job search, etc. Overall, I would not recommend that you immediately file for SSDI for a number of reasons including:

                1.  In the eyes of some of our workers' compensation judges filing for SSDI too soon can significantly reduce the value of your case because it shows a lack of motivation. If you are released to return to work with restrictions, then you should do a valid job search before determining if you should file for SSDI or not. 

                2. The SSDI process can take several years in order to get a hearing before an administrative law judge.

                3. If you are under 55 years of age it is more difficult to obtain SSDI than if you are 55 years or older. 

    We help our clients navigate workers comp, employment law, unemployment law, and Social Security Disability in order to achieve the best outcome for them.


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  • How Long Can You Be Out On Workers Comp

    how long can you be out on workers comp walking cane

    Unlike some states, Iowa does not have a set limit for the amount of time that you can be off work receiving workers comp benefits while you recover from your work injuries. Some states have a 12, 18, or 24-month limit, but in Iowa so long as you are receiving medical care which is improving your condition and have not reached MMI (maximum medical improvement) you can receive weekly TTD (temporary total disability) benefits.

    Is my job protected while I am off receiving workers comp? Not necessarily.

    If you qualify for the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) then your employer can run your FMLA time (generally up to 12 weeks of leave) at the same time that you are off work due to a work injury. If you miss more than 12 weeks, then your employer may terminate you. There can be additional protections under other state and federal laws such as the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or through your union if you have one. For more information request a copy of our Iowa Workers' Compensation Book where we devote an entire chapter to Your Rights as an Employee Click Here. We offer our book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen far too many hard-working Iowans make a costly mistake. After all, they did not have the information they needed.

    How do I qualify for FMLA?

    To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer defined as an employer with 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks or more in the current or preceding calendar year. Also, the employee must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave. If you meet the requirements then your job should be protected for up to 12 weeks.

    What if I am fired after I complete medical care?

    If you are fired during or after your medical care for your workers' comp claim it is very important that you speak with a qualified work injury attorney who can help explain the process, protect your rights and seek the compensation that you should receive.

    Should I file for unemployment? If you have been fired and are no longer receiving TTD (temporary total disability) benefits then it is probably in your best interests to file for unemployment. Keep in mind that you cannot receive TTD and unemployment at the same time. Also, you have to be ready, willing, and able to do some type of work in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. Also, depending upon how long you were off work, you may not have enough work credits in your monetary records and be denied unemployment. However, if you have missed 3 or more quarters and received TTD during that timeframe then the unemployment office is supposed to skip those quarters and substitute then with the quarters prior to your work injury. If you are denied unemployment, you should promptly call a work comp attorney who can also help you with your unemployment matter. We offer a no-cost consultation and review of both your unemployment and work comp cases. There is no retainer or upfront fee that you have to pay for us to help you with your unemployment case if we are also representing you in your work comp. matter.

     

    Should I apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI)? It depends upon your age, the severity of your injuries, if you have done a valid job search, etc. Overall, I would not recommend that you immediately file for SSDI for a number of reasons including:

                1. In the eyes of some of our workers' compensation judges filing for SSDI too soon can significantly reduce the value of your case because it shows a lack of motivation. If you are released to return to work with restrictions, then you should do a valid job search before determining if you should file for SSDI or not.

                2. The SSDI process can take several years in order to get a hearing before an administrative law judge.

                3. If you are under 55 years of age it is more difficult to obtain SSDI than if you are 55 years or older.

    We help our clients navigate workers comp, employment law, unemployment law, and Social Security Disability in order to achieve the best outcome for them.


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  • When Do I Need A Car Accident Lawyer In Iowa?

    You do not need a lawyer for every Iowa car accident. For example, if your injuries are minor only requiring a few doctors' appointments and you make a full recovery with no scarring or you were not injured and only sustained property damage. You should consider handling your case on your own because frankly in smaller cases having a lawyer may not help you at all. After all, why would you want to pay a portion of your likely already small settlement to a lawyer?

    However, if you have had medical treatment such as physical therapy, surgery, pain management care, and other invasive medical procedures at the very least you should call an experienced Iowa car accident lawyer to find out how they may be able to help you with your case. Having an experienced car accident attorney looking out for your best interests, protecting your rights, and leading you through the process will not only relieve your stress but also will likely result in more money to you.

    For example, do you:

    -Know what the fair settlement value is for someone injured in a car accident with injuries like yours?

    -Know how much insurance coverage the other driver has and if it is not enough what assets may be available to pay for your injuries?

    -Know if you have other insurance coverage that may compensate you for your injuries should the other driver only have the state minimum of $20,000 per person for personal injuries.

    If you hire the right car accident attorney then once they have your medical records, the police reports, and other documentation they should be able to give you a range of what your case is worth.

    What else should an injury attorney do for you?

    1. Investigate the facts of your case including hiring a private investigator, if necessary, to interview witnesses, investigating officers, etc.

    2. Have all contact with the insurance adjusters on your behalf

    3. Request and obtain your medical records and bills

    4. Have all contact with the subrogation claims that will come in your case

    5. Handle contact with and deal with any collection companies and medical provider bills

    6. Explain the legal process and help you determine if you should file suit or try to settle first

    7. Give you a realistic value of your case once they have your medical records and know the facts in your case

    8. Provide you with copies of letters sent and periodic updates about what is going on with your case

    9. Much more explained in our Iowa Car Accident book.

    Note: Before you consider hiring any attorney you should look at what their past clients have to say about them on their webpage, at www.Avvo.com and/or on Google. Also, you should look at the results that they have achieved for prior clients which should be listed on their webpage. If you would like to watch what our prior clients have to say about our services Click Here. To review some of our results in car accident cases Click Here.

    We offer a car accident review to you at no cost or risk, just call 641-792-3595. We will answer your questions, tell you about how the system works and give you advice as to whether you need a lawyer in your case or not. If you are not yet ready to talk to an attorney, then we offer our book "The Legal Insider's Guide to Iowa Car Accidents: 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case" at no cost or risk. In the book we will explain in more detail about whether you need an attorney or not; what you should do in order to find the best car accident attorney for you and your case; explain what damages may be available to you in your case (pain and suffering, loss of full mind and body, loss of consortium, etc.); and much, much more. Finally, you can learn about Iowa car accident laws in the comfort of your own home so request your copy of our Iowa Car Accident book now.


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  • Do workers compensation benefits cover PTSD?

    Do workers compensation benefits cover PTSDThe short answer is yes, if you sustain PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following a physical work injury or traumatic event like a robbery at work then your condition should be covered. This sounds good but is not as good as it sounds because often your workers' comp insurance company will deny your PTSD claims for several reasons.

    Here are a few company insurance company tactics in dealing with PTSD:

    1. The insurance company, nurses, and their doctors will simply ignore the mental health issues which you are having including PTSD. You should bring up all of your problems you are having because of the work injury, but do not be surprised if the doctor says "I am only treating you for your (insert your injury, e.g. arm, shoulder, back, neck, leg, etc.). If this has happened to you, there are several ways that we can help you get the medical care and treatment that you need for your PTSD and may also be able to obtain additional financial compensation for you.

    2. You complain about mental health problems such as PTSD so the insurance company decides to send you to one of their bought and paid for mental health providers. There are a number of psychiatrists and psychologists in Iowa that will say whatever the insurance company wants them to for a price. These doctors have a proven track record for helping the insurance company at all costs. If the insurance adjustor wants to send you to a doctor in order to address your PTSD claims, you should find out if the doctor they want to send you to is legitimate or not. Depending upon your circumstances, it may be better for you to just seek treatment on your own instead of going to the insurance company doctor. If you are facing these issues, we can tell you what the doctor's track record is. Then we will help you decide what is best for your PTSD and your workers' comp case.

    3. The insurance company will ask that their treating authorized physician refer you to a reputable mental health provider. This is the least likely thing to happen in your case because it may cost the insurance company more money. I know, why wouldn't the insurance company want to help you so you get better and they likely end up paying less money in the long run? However, this is not how profit-driven insurance companies think. Often, they rather save the money now even though they are ignoring the human cost and may pay more later on. Note: If the doctor they send you to makes a specific referral to another doctor, then they should be responsible for paying for that care and treatment. If they refuse, then the alternative medical care procedure may be used to force the insurance company to pay for the mental health medical care that you need. There are very specific requirements that you must follow in order to have a chance at winning in an alternative medical care hearing. Chapter 4 of our Iowa Workers' Compensation book covers this topic in more detail.

     

    If you would like a copy of our new no cost Iowa Work Comp book which includes the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights and reveals 7 costly mistakes and how you can avoid them just click here to request the book. There is no cost or risk and you can finally learn about Iowa workers comp laws in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. We offer our Iowa workers comp book at no cost because we have seen far too many hardworking Iowans who following a work injury were suffering both physically and mentally who were treated badly by insurance companies because they did not know their rights or responsibilities.

     

    Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you think you may have PTSD or have been diagnosed with it:

    1. PTSD is a mental health anxiety disorder involving the over-activation of the flight or fight response.

    2. PTSD symptoms can develop quickly or slowly after a traumatic event in which your life was put in danger.

    3. Some signs and symptoms include: anxiety, grief, anger, feeling lonely, sleep issues, feeling out of control, etc. People with PTSD may feel disconnected from the world and lose their meaning and purpose in life.

    4. Many PTSD sufferers relive the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding people or places that bring back the memories of the trauma and/or constantly feeling on edge.

    5. PTSD is not a result of moral failure or weakness in character but is a real condition caused by biological and physiological mechanisms.

    6. Everyone is different some people who sustain the same trauma can have very different reactions from it including developing PTSD or not.

    7. People with PTSD have a greater risk of alcohol abuse and other mental health conditions like depression.

    8. You are not alone because an estimated 4% of men and 10% of women develop PTSD at some point in their lifetime which means approximately 8 million adults are dealing with PTSD in any given year.

    9. The good news is that there are many ways to treat PTSD including individual and/or group psychotherapies, medications, etc.

     

    If you or a loved one is having mental health issues following trauma the best thing you can do is to get help with a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. While PTSD may get better on its own with time, at the very minimum you should get it checked out so it does not get worse.

    Suffering from PTSD can be an isolating experience, but there are millions of other people dealing with similar problems and there are resources available to help you get your life back. If you do not have anyone else to turn to and are even considering hurting yourself, then please get help or at least call 800-273-8255 to speak with a trained person at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are not comfortable calling someone on the phone for more information go to https://www.mentalhelp.net/ptsd/hotline/.


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  • Can My Employer Make Me Come to Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic? (Iowa 2020 Update)

    Can My Employer Make Me Come to Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic (2020 Update)The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) created the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) which provided some temporary protections (they end December 31, 2020) to the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and the EPSLA (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act) which provides compensation for time off work because of the Coronavirus for specific situations. 

    Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)

    Who is eligible? If you have worked for an employer for at least the past 30 calendar days.

    What conditions allow me to not go to work under the EFMLEA? If you need to care for your child under 18 years of age if their school or daycare has been closed because of the public health emergency (in this case the Coronavirus).

    Which employers are required to comply? Unfortunately, as with many legislative bills it was not written very clearly and the DOL (Department of Labor) recently posted 80 pages of temporary regulations so it is not exactly clear which employers are required to comply with the EFMLEA. Generally, it appears that private employers with 500 or more employees based in the United States or its territories are not required to comply and have no obligations under the statute. Employers with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees are covered, but employers with fewer than 50 employees may or may not be required to comply with the longer EFMLEA provisions.

    How much will I be paid? Generally, the first 2 weeks are unpaid, but you are allowed to use your other paid leave. After the first two weeks, you can be paid for up to another 10 weeks at two-thirds of your average rate of pay over the past 6 months subject to a cap of $200 per day.

    What should I do? If you think that you are or may be eligible then you should provide in writing to your employer you name, dates of requested leave, the reason you will be gone, the name of your child/children that you need to care for, the name of the school, pre-school or place of care that has been closed and a statement that you have no other suitable person to care for your child/children.

    What will happen to my job when I come back? If your employer has 25 or more employees then you should be returned to your previous employment, unless your employer shows that the position no longer exists due to economic conditions caused by the health emergency, and your employer shows they have made reasonable efforts to restore you to an equivalent position.

    Also, please keep in mind that the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) normal rules still apply such that FMLA leave is still unpaid, limited to 12 weeks per company year, etc.

     

    EPSLA (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act)

    All employees are covered however health care providers and emergency responders defined below are excluded.

    Which occupations are excluded? If you are a health care provider or an emergency responder then your employer may exclude you from the EPSLA’s Paid Sick Leave requirements and/or the EFMLEA’s Expanded Family and Medical Leave requirements. The DOL regulations definitions of healthcare providers and emergency responders include not only physicians and nurses, but also employees at doctor’s offices, employees who manufacture medical products and lab workers.

    What conditions allow me to not go to work and be paid under the EPSLA?

                1. If you are subject to a quarantine or isolation order that is related to the Coronavirus/Covid-19

                2. If you have been advised by a health care provider that you need to self-quarantine because of a health condition that you have. For example, asthma, COPD, diabetes, etc.

                3. If you are caring for someone who is covered by the above (1) or (2).

                4. If you are having Covid-19 symptoms and seeking medical care and diagnosis.

                5. If you are caring for your child/children because their school, pre-school or daycare has been closed because of Covid-19.

                6. If you are experiencing any other "substantially similar condition" to one of the above as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

     

    How many days are you allowed to miss under EPSLA? If you are a full-time employee, then you will receive 80 hours of paid leave. If you are part-time then you will be paid the average hours over a two-week period.

    How much are you paid under the EPSLA? For the above reasons (1)-(3) you are paid your regular wage up to a maximum of $511 per day. If you miss work for reasons (4)-(6) then you are paid 2/3 of your regular rate of pay up to $200 per day.

    Can my employer make me find a replacement worker under the EPSLA? The law prohibits your employer to require you to find another employee to cover for you while you are off work. Further, your employer may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against you in any other manner for asserting your rights under the EPSLA.

    Keep in mind that these are brand new laws and regulations interpreting these laws are coming out often such that the above may not be accurate. If you have applied for one or both of the above and been denied benefits, terminated, or discriminated against then you should seek the advice and opinions of a qualified employment law attorney.


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  • Do I Still Have A Car Accident Injury Case If I Wasn’t Wearing A Seatbelt?

    Do you have a car accident case even if you dont wear a seatbeltThe short answer is yes, you still have a case. However, Iowa law requires all front-seat occupants wear a seat belt and anyone under the age of 18 (who is not in a car seat) to wear a seat belt in both the front and back of a vehicle. Iowa has a system which is called comparative fault. In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed a new law (Iowa Code Section 321.445) increasing the percentage of fault you can be found from 5% to 25% for failing to wear a seat belt when required to do so by law.

    Why is this important?

    Because for every percentage of fault you are found by a judge or jury, your damages are reduced accordingly. For example, if you are the driver or front-seat passenger who is not wearing a seat belt during a car crash caused by someone else and your total damages are $100,000. If you are found to be 25% at fault, then you are only allowed to recover $75,000 because your damages were reduced by 25% (100,000 X 25% = 25,000).

    Insurance companies will also argue that you can be found comparatively at fault for failing to wear a seat belt in the back seat even though it is not illegal. While there is no conclusive case on this issue, district courts have gone both ways.

    Sometimes, the judge will require the defendants and their insurance company to submit medical evidence in court which usually consists of a doctor or other expert testifying about how your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a seat belt. There are several studies that these experts can cite to support their position. Also, if the jury knows that you were not wearing your seat belt they may be more critical of you and provide you less compensation overall in addition to finding you partially at fault. It is normal for jurors to think using what we call attribution bias. This means that jurors do not want to imagine that they could be injured like you were in a car crash, so they will try to find fault in what you did to cause your injuries. For example, I always wear my seat belt and because he/she did not wear a seat belt he/she was injured or my friend was in a terrible car accident caused by a drunk driver, but he was wearing his seat belt and not injured or my son was rear-ended in a car accident and thankfully he was not injured because he was wearing his seat belt. There are many other examples of this, but you can see how a juror may try to place blame on the injured party in order to avoid painful thoughts that they or a loved one could be injured in a car accident.

     

    Good Reasons To Always Wear A Seatbelt

    1. Statistics show that wearing a seat belt should prevent you from being ejected in a car crash which is among the leading causes of death;

    2. Scientific data shows that overall injuries are less severe in a car crash when a person is wearing a seat belt;

    3. Your damages may be reduced because of your fault for not wearing a seat belt;

    4. If you are over 18 and riding in the front seat you will end up with a ticket and fine to pay.

    There can be several extenuating circumstances that impact accident fault. It may require seeking legal counsel. A Des Moines personal injury attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can handle these types of traffic cases and can help determine who is at fault in a car accident.


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  • I Was Fired Because I Spoke Out About Lack of Protection (PPE) and Got Sick Do I Have a Case?

    Fired because lack of protection Iowa is an employee at-will state like most states. There are some protections under employment laws like the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), violation of public policy, retaliatory discharge, collective bargaining agreements with unions, etc. However, the general rule is that your employer can fire you for any or no reason at all.

    However, you may have an employment law claim and if you can prove you were exposed to the Coronavirus- Covid 19 at work and became sick because of it then you may also have a valid worker's compensation claim.

    How Do I Prove I Was Exposed to Coronavirus- Covid 19 at Work?

    First of all, if you suspect that you have been exposed you should immediately notify your employer and fill out an injury report. If they do not have a written or online injury report for you to complete, then you should send them a detailed letter stating that you were exposed at work, the symptoms you are having and request medical care. Regardless, of how you notify your employer please keep copies of any and all documents reporting your injury. Injury reports sometimes seem to get lost by employers later on when they claim they were not notified of the injury. Iowa law provides up to 90 days from when you knew or should have known that a condition was work-related, but it is the best practice to report it in writing right away.

    What Happens After I Report My Coronavirus- Covid 19 Work Injury?

    They should promptly provide you with medical care, but it is common for your employer and/or their insurance company to investigate your claim before agreeing to pay you benefits or even send you to a doctor. If you need medical care during their investigation period then, by all means, use your health insurance and get help. If you have a serious illness, then waiting for medical care is the last thing that you want to do. If later on, the insurance company admits that your condition is work-related or a judge orders them to provide care and compensation, then who paid for your medical bills and reimbursement can be taken care of.  

    Can I Sue My Employer for Not Providing Me with PPE (personal protective equipment)?

    Under Iowa law you cannot sue your employer for negligence. However, there is a very limited claim for what is called gross negligence in which you have to prove that it was more likely than not that the actions or inactions of a co-employee would lead to your injuries. This is a very high standard and you have to sue your co-employee who oftentimes would be your supervisor, the safety supervisor, etc.

    To learn more about Iowa work injuries and how you may be compensated for a work-related Coronavirus- Covid 19 injury, request a copy of our new book, Iowa Workers' Compensation- An Insider's Guide to Work Injuries Click Here. We offer our book to you at no cost or risk because we have seen far too many hard-working Iowans make costly mistakes causing them to lose thousands of dollars and sometimes their entire case. If you need immediate assistance or have questions then please feel free to call us  at 641-792-3595 or Contact Us Here. We will take the time to listen to your story, give you advice and tell you if we think you need a lawyer or not. That's right, there are some work injury cases where it does not make sense to hire a lawyer.


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  • Can My Employer Make Me Come In If I Have Coronavirus Symptoms?

    Can My Employer Make Me Come In If I Have Coronavirus Symptoms?Under Iowa law, you are an employee at will and you are not required to come into work if you do not want to. However, if you decide not to come to work then your job may be in jeopardy. However, if you qualify under the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) then your job should be protected, but you will need to ask for the FMLA and make sure to have the proper paperwork completed in order to be protected.

    Is My Employer Required to Comply with the FMLA?

    First of all, you have to determine if your employer is subject to the FMLA. If your employer is engaged in commerce or any industry or activity affecting commerce and has 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks or more in the current or preceding calendar year then the FMLA applies to them.

    Am I Covered Under the FMLA?

    In order to be eligible as an employee you must meet the following requirements:

    • have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave, and
    • have worked for that employer for at least 12 months, and
    • work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed at the location or within 75 miles of the location.

    What Does the FMLA Provide?

    First of all, the FMLA does not provide you with any weekly benefits. Those could be paid under sick leave, STD (short term disability), workers' compensation or other disability plans. If you qualify for FMLA leave, then you are entitled up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if you meet one or more of the following requirements:

    (a) You have a serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the functions of the position of your job.

    (b) You are required to provide care for your spouse, your child or your parent, if such spouse, child or parent has a serious health condition.

    (c) Because of the birth of your child in order to provide care for your child.

    (d) Because of the placement of a child placed with you for adoption or foster care.

     

    What is Considered a Serious Health Condition?

    A serious health condition is defined as:

    An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

    (A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or

    (B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.

     

    The term "health care provider" means:

     (A) a doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is authorized to practice medicine or surgery (as appropriate) by the State in which the doctor practices; or

    (B) any other person determined by the Secretary to be capable of providing health care services.

     

    If you have all these items are met then the employee may be entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work without being terminated. However, your employer may offer sick pay, STD (short term disability) benefits or other benefits that allow you to be paid during part of or all of the 12 week period. If the employer does not provide the 12 weeks as required, then you may have a cause of action against the employer. This is not designed to be an all-inclusive list of the steps which must be taken under the FMLA, in fact, there may be other requirements that must be met. Therefore, each particular case should be analyzed under the FMLA and an attorney consulted regarding what to do.

    For more information about Iowa Employment laws including the FMLA, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and Iowa Workers' Compensation, request a copy of our Iowa Work Injury Book in which we devote an entire chapter to Your Rights as an Employee Click Here. We offer our book at no risk or cost to fellow Iowans because we have seen far too many Iowans make a costly mistake because they did not have the information they needed.

    You can always call us at 641-792-3595 or Contact Us Here


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  • What Happens to My Case If The Courts Are Closed?

    What happens to my case if the courts are closedIf you have a Civil Jury Trial? On April 2, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an order stating that all civil jury trials set before August 3, 2020 will need to be continued.

    If you have a Workers' Compensation Trial/Hearing?  Presently, the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner has ordered that all cases set for trial/hearing before June 16, 2020 shall be done through CourtCall which is a system similar to Zoom. It allows all parties, their attorneys, the judge/deputy, the court reporter and witnesses to all appear on their computers. Since the order came down, we have had a hearing through CourtCall and found that is worked pretty well. The alternative is that one or both parties can file a motion to continue the hearing in order to have an in person hearing by the end of the year which may or may not be granted.

    There are other rules for FED's forcible entry and detainers, bench trials, etc. that you can find at https://www.iowacourts.gov/newsroom/news-releases/.


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