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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  • I have been having neck pain, when should I call my doctor?

    If you have injured your neck at work, in a car accident or another personal injury accident then you need to be seen by a doctor right away so they can evaluate and try to determine the extent of your injury. You may have a severe neck injury if you have been in a serious car accident, taken a forceful blow to the head or neck, or fallen from 10 feet or higher. You may have also suffered a spinal cord injury if you are experiencing continuous numbness of one or both arms or legs, or if you have weakness in your arms or legs or aren’t able to move them. If you start to have severe pain immediately after being injured you shouldn’t wait to see your doctor.

  • Should I be reimbursed for my mileage expenses due to my work injury?

    • Yes, you are entitled to be reimbursed at the following rates for all mileage you incur while going to and from doctors’ appointments, physical therapy visits, etc. related to your work injury for travel during the time periods listed:
      $.485 per mile- August 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008
      $.585 per mile- July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009
      $.55 per mile-   July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010

  • If I cannot prove negligence can I still make a recovery?

    Maybe. Most property owners have insurance that is called medical payments coverage which pays medical expenses caused by the fall up to a certain amount usually from $1,000 to $10,000.  However, some companies are self-insured and do not have medical payments coverage available.

  • If I fall on someone's property in Iowa are they liable for my injuries?

    Not necessarily. A claim against a property owner for a fall is known as a premises liability claim.  In order to recover damages against a property owner, you have to prove that the property owner was negligent also known as fault.  The fact-finder, usually a jury will consider many factors to consider which include:
    1. The foreseeability or possibility of harm;
    2. The purpose for which the entrant entered the premises;
    3. The time, manner, and circumstances under which the entrant entered the premises;
    4. The use to which the premises are put or are expected to be put;
    5. The reasonableness of the inspection, repair, or warning;
    6. The opportunity and ease of repair or correction or giving of the warning; and
    7. The burden on the land occupier and/or community in terms of inconvenience or cost in providing adequate protection.

    Most property owners have insurance that is called medical payments coverage which pays medical expenses caused by the fall up to a certain amount usually from $1,000 to $10,000.  However, some companies are self-insured and do not have medical payments coverage available.

    If the injured party proves that the property owner was at least 50% at fault then they must prove that his/her injuries were proximately caused by the fall.  Also, the fact finder will evaluate if the injured party was at fault for the fall.  If the fact finder finds the injured party 51% at fault or more, then they are not allowed to recover any damages. 

  • What should I expect to happen next if your firm accepts my workers' compensation case?

    If our firm accepts your case it is because we believe it has legal merit and that you deserve a trial if we are not able to reach a settlement. We often file a petition before we even begin negotiating, this way if negotiations don’t work out then we will already have a trial date on file to work towards. We will get your claim moving for you. Sometimes the insurance company for your employer takes extended time gathering information and investigating the claim which in turn, slows down the process of your claim.

    Once we start handling your case for you, you will no longer have to deal with the insurance company directly and we will be able to manage your case in a timely manner. If we decide to file a petition for your case, this moves your claim right into the discovery phase. Discovery allows both parties to discover all evidence and what the other side plans on presenting at trial. This is a faster way of gathering in depth information about the case from both sides rather than waiting around for the insurance company to complete their investigation.

  • What are some common construction accidents in Iowa?

    Common types of accidents in construction sites might include electrical accidents, crane accidents, scaffolding accidents, fires and explosions, and even workers being ran over by equipment. The most common type of accident in construction areas are falls.

  • What are the available damages in dram shop claim?

    The damages that one would obtain in an Iowa personal injury claim are the same as the damages in dramshop claim; they are as follows.

    • Payment of all medical bills associated with the accident: including any prescribed physical or occupational rehabilitation
    • Pain and suffering: includes physical and emotional suffering if the victim experiences post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or the emotional trauma of permanent loss of a limb and severe disfigurement
    • Lost income: either job-related wages or monies earned if the victim is self-employed a business owner. Any work-related benefits such as paid employee medical, insurance, or retirement contributions may also be collected.
    • Damaged property repair or replacement: the victim’s vehicle and any items in it at the time of the accident
    • Wrongful death: commonly demanded by family survivors. This can include all medical and funeral expenses, lost future income that would have been earned by the deceased, loss of consortium, and other incurred expenses that can be attributed to the untimely death of the beloved family member.
    • Punitive damages: commonly awarded by a judge or jury in addition to the actual (requested) damages if the defendant showed a willful disregard for the victim’s safety.

    Basics of Dramshop Law

    A dramshop claim is one levied against a person or business that has a liquor license, for serving too much alcohol to an individual that later causes the intoxicated person to get into a car accident (most often) resulting in injury or death to another. Specific legal requirements regarding claims are involved, and there are several liability variables; all of which are outlined in Iowa Code § 123.92, and subsequent rulings of law.

    Though Iowa has a Dramshop Law, other states – such as Nebraska – do not.  In Iowa, there are relatively brief and precise time limits for providing written notice to the bar or liquor license holder of an injured victim’s intent to file a claim or lawsuit for damages; and the injured victim bears the burden of proof for the dramshop claim (or the survivors of a wrongfully deceased victim).

    If someone is hit by an Intoxicated driver then does he or she sue only the bar?

    Not at all. Injured victims also have a strong civil case against the drunk driver. What likely happens is the victim sues both defendants and each pays a percentage of the victim’s reasonable damage total; any punitive damages notwithstanding.

    What is the amount of time a drunk driving accident victim can file a dramshop law claim?

    The notice of intent to file a claim against the establishment’s licensee (usually the owner) or permittee (bartender or wait person) is short: six months after the accident, and the information in the notice must be very precise, suggesting the need for an experienced dramshop law attorney’s assistance. The statute of limitations to file the injury claim is two years from the date of the accident.

    Walker, Billingsley & Bair are here to take care of the exhaustive legal paperwork that accompanies filing claims against two parties, one being a company. Contact us using the online form or call us to discuss your situation further: (641) 792-2335.

  • What has to be proven in an Iowa dramshop claim?

    There are two typical ways to prove an Iowa dramshop claim. A person is served too much alcohol at a bar or restaurant, leaves the establishment while drunk, is involved in a car accident, and is subsequently charged with OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated).

    The other occurs when a drunk bar patron assaults one or more people at the bar. Iowa’s Dramshop Law holds the bar owner, liquor licensee, or permittee (bartender or wait person) who does either of the following;

    • Sells and serves alcohol to an intoxicated person when they knew (or should have “reasonably” known) the person was intoxicated
    • Sells and serves the person to a point where the owner, bartender, wait staff knew or should have reasonably known the person would become drunk if they did not stop serving the patron.

    Bars and other establishments licensed to serve liquor are legally required to exercise reasonable care to detect signs of actual (or suspected) intoxication in their patrons. If their employees identify someone who’s had too much to drink, they cannot serve them any more alcohol: [Iowa Code § 123.92].

    This is known as a Dramshop Law, and many states have adopted them. Virtually all of these establishments are also required by law to have dramshop liability insurance to pay the damages to the injured victims of their intoxicated patrons.

    “Iowa’s Dramshop Statute is intended to restrain bars and restaurants from selling ‘excess liquor’ to their patrons;” according to The Iowa Supreme Court. Several cases before it have produced rulings that the state’s dramshop law does not require that the plaintiff prove that the intoxicated person who injured them consumed the alcohol.

    The Act’s language says that alcoholic beverages that are, "sold and served for consumption on the seller's premises only,” apply. This means that retail companies such as grocery stores and other liquor licensees which sell packaged liquor – rather than “liquor by the drink” – are not subject to the law because they are not licensed to serve alcohol at their business; only sell alcohol which is consumed at another location.

    All civil damages are available in a dramshop case.

    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages
    • Damaged property
    • Pain and suffering
    • Wrongful death

    Can a person who was made intoxicated sue the bar owner in an Iowa dramshop case?

    Only those who were injured by the intoxicated patron (referred to as the “second party”) can sue the bar or restaurant establishment. First parties (the intoxicated person) may not.

    Are private citizens who host a party liable under Iowa’s dramshop laws?

    The law applies only to vendors who are licensed to sell alcohol in restaurants and bars. It does not apply to “social hosts” who serve alcohol at parties or other private functions: [Iowa Code § 123.49].

    Contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair to get more information on filing a dramshop claim in Iowa at (515) 440-2852. 

  • How do You Prove that the Bar Tender Knew or Should Have Known the Person was Intoxicated or Would Become Intoxicated?

    It can be difficult to prove that the person consuming alcohol was intoxicated or would become intoxicated.  The chances are good that the bartender will not admit he or she knew the person was drunk.  Usually, evidence from other bar patrons, people who were with the bar patron or police officers will testify as to what they observed.

  • What are the Six Secrets to Increasing the Value of Your Workers' Compensation Claim?

    1. KEEPING A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COMPANY DOCTORS: 

    As you know, your employer and their insurance company are allowed to choose your doctors in your workers’ compensation claim.  It is very important that you maintain a good working relationship with these doctors.  These doctors may accuse you of exaggerating your injury and worse.  However, do not lose your temper.  The doctor will record both what you say and your behavior in his notes which will be passed onto the insurance company, and if your case is not settled, onto the judge who hears your case.  It is perfectly okay to ask questions, but do not expect that the doctor will have all the answers.  He may very well say that he has done everything he can and you will just have to live with your problems.  This is common among insurance company doctors.  However, do not be discouraged as there are doctors I know who will try to fix your medical problems. 

    2.  TELL YOUR DOCTOR “EVERYTHING” THAT HURTS: 

    One of the most critical pieces of evidence is how you feel and how your injuries have affected your ability to function on a daily basis.  Your doctor is required to keep accurate and detailed records of your medical history and care.  The records include your description of how you were injured, your physical complaints, and your injuries, the doctor’s examination findings, and the treatment you received.  The insurance companies will base its offer to you on this critical information.  If you fail to tell the doctor everything that hurts, not only will it not be treated properly, but also no one will know about it.  If you first begin to complain about some problem weeks or even months after you were hurt, the insurance company will claim that the problem was not from the accident and reduce their settlement offer to you.

    3.  FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR’S ORDERS: 

    If your doctor tells you to get therapy three days a week, but you only go once a week, you will damage your claim.  The insurance company will say that “you could not have been truly injured, or you would have followed your doctor’s recommendations” and will reduce their settlement offer to you. 

    4.  KEEP A DIARY TO DOCUMENT YOUR INJURIES: 

    Few people ever think of writing down how they felt.  You need to remember the details of your injury and how you felt on a day-to-day basis.  A diary helps to provide accurate accounts of your injuries and how they affected your ability to function on a daily basis.  Your diary will help you prove the extent of your injuries, and can mean a higher evaluation of your claim. 

    5. KEEP DOCUMENTATION REGARDING MISSED WORK: 

    It is important that you keep track of the time you missed from work.  This includes keeping doctors excuses for missed work and keeping track of time you miss work for doctors’ appointments. 

    6.  BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY AND YOUR EMPLOYER: 

    They will use anything and everything you tell them against you.  And no matter what, DO NOT LIE.  Even a small lie can ruin your credibility.  The best policy is to always tell the truth.  That way you will never have to worry about what you said.