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 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.

  • Where will your workers’ compensation hearing be held?

     

    After you receive a determination about a work injury claim, you have two choices: you can either accept the decision offered (amount of benefits, extent of disability, etc.), or you can request a hearing with the workers’ compensation commissioner if you believe that the decision was unfair. If you do apply for a hearing, here is what you need to know about where it will most likely be held.

    In Des Moines

    Because the workers’ compensation commissioner resides in Des Moines, it is likely that your hearing will be held there. If you agree to have your hearing held in Des Moines, it is probable that it will get heard quicker than if it is held elsewhere. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we also believe that the outcomes of workers’ compensation hearings that are held in Des Moines are often more favorable to the injured worker.

    Des Moines-based hearings are preferable because the judges do not have to travel and are therefore often in a more positive mood. For these two reasons, agreeing to have your workers’ compensation hearing take place in Des Moines is often within your best interest.

    The Judicial District Where the Injury Occurred

    However, not all hearings must be held in Des Moines, especially if traveling to Des Moines is impossible for you. Section 86.17 of the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Code reads that hearings for workers’ compensation “shall be held in the judicial district where the injury occurred.”

    Hearings may be held in the following cities.

    • Ft. Dodge
    • Sioux City
    • Davenport
    • Cedar Rapids
    • Waterloo
    • Mason City
    • Storm Lake

    According to the Iowa Workforce Development, those who wish to schedule a hearing in all areas outside of Des Moines will need to choose a backup hearing date first.

    Can a workers’ compensation hearing help me?

    During a workers’ compensation hearing, you will have the opportunity to present any new evidence related to your injury from the time your initial claim was made. If you have new evidence that suggests that a determination made about your workers’ compensation claim was unfair, then a hearing is your best chance of reversing that decision and receiving all the workers’ compensation benefits that can be collected.

    How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help

    You don’t have to plan for your hearing alone because at Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our team of workers’ compensation attorneys will guide you through every step of the way. From determining where your hearing should be held to what information you’ll need to present, and advocating for you the day of, we’re here to help. Start my claim paperwork: (888) 435-9886

  • If you know how much you were making before your work injury, how can you find how much you should be paid each week (also known as your workers' compensation rate)?

    If you know what your average weekly wage (commonly referred to as your AWW) is, the number of dependents that you are allowed to claim (hint: generally, it is the number of exemptions you claim on your tax return for the year before you were injured) and your marital status then you can look-up what your rate should be at http://www.iowaworkforce.org/wc/publications.htm.  Your average weekly wage is determined in different ways depending on how you were paid before the work injury.  If you were paid by the hour, then generally your workers' compensation average weekly wage is determined by looking at how much you made during the 13 weeks before you were hurt.  While overtime hours are included, they are only included at your normal hourly wage.  Also, keep in mind that weeks which are not "customary", meaning weeks in which you missed work because of sickness, vacation, etc. are to be skipped in your Iowa work injury average weekly wage calculation. 

    Once you know your average weekly wage you will need to click on the correct Workers' Compensation Manual depending on when you were injured.  If you sustained a work injury between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 then use the 2011-12 rate table; July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, then use the 2012-13 rate table.  IIf your injury at work happened after July 1, 2013, then use the 2013-14 rate table.  Keep in mind that these only apply to Iowa work comp. claims.  You will need to look-up your average weekly wage on the left hand side and then go across to determine the rate based upon your marital status and total number of exemptions.

  • How should you decide which attorney to hire?

    Just like other professions there are attorneys who specialize in injuries.  Some attorneys handle family law and criminal matters while others handle motorcycle injury and car accident cases.  If you needed surgery for an injury would you go to your family doctor?  Likewise, if you need an attorney in an injury case going to a general practice attorney who does not routinely deal with the specialized Iowa laws involving accidents, subrogation and damages can be fatal to your case. 

    One of the things to look for is if the attorney advertises practicing primarily in "Personal Injury".  If the attorney advertises this then the attorney has certified with the Iowa State Bar Association that at least 40% of the attorney's practice involves handling personal injury cases and that at least 15 hours per year is spent taking continuing legal education concerning personal injury cases.  Do not be confused by attorneys who advertise general practice including "Personal Injury".  Anyone can advertise general practice including "Personal Injury" even if you are their very first injury case. 

    Also, you should ask the attorney for a list of prior case results, settlements and testimonials.  You should learn what his or her track record is and what their past clients have to say about their services.  If they do not have this basic information then you are taking a risk that they may have little, if any, experience handling Iowa injury or motorcycle accident cases. 

    For more information about how to find a qualified Iowa personal injury attorney to handle your Iowa motorcycle accident claim we offer a book at no cost which also describes 6 Things to Know Before Talking to the Insurance Adjustor or Hiring an Attorney.  Finally, you can learn about motorcycle accidents in the comfort of your own home with no risk or obligation.  Just go to http://www.MotorcycleAccidentBook.com to request your copy.  Why do we offer a Book at No Cost?  For more than 20 years Attorneys Corey Walker and Erik Bair, who both practice primarily in personal injury law, have represented hundreds of injured Iowans including many Iowans injured in motorcycle accidents.  They have seen too many clients make costly mistakes before they had the information they needed resulting in them losing thousands of dollars.  So to learn how to find a qualified personal injury attorney and how to avoid costly mistakes request your copy today. 

  • What will a qualified personal injury attorney do for me?

    There are many things that an Iowa attorney who practices primarily in personal injury law can do for you in a motorcycle accident case.  First of all, the attorney is there to help and guide you through the Iowa injury process which likely you have never been through.  The experience and knowledge of the attorney will help you not make mistakes which could cost you thousands of dollars. 

    An attorney will help increase the value of the case by obtaining doctors' reports and opinions when necessary to prove causation between your injuries and the accident along with the cost of future medical care.  Also, once all the facts and opinions have been gathered an injury attorney who has handled many prior cases will be able to give you a range of what the value of your case is.  Also, the attorney will be the one who deals with the insurance company so you do not have to.  This not only saves you time, but also the headaches of dealing with an insurance adjustor who knows the law, the tricks of the trade and has been trained to pay you as little as possible for your injuries.  An attorney will also help deal with subrogation claims (claims made by your health and/or motorcycle insurance) and often will be able to put more money in your pocket just by being involved, knowing the law and properly dealing with the subrogation claims. 

    For a list of other things an Iowa personal injury attorney should do for you in your case go to http://www.MotorcycleAccidentBook.com to request your copy of our book we offer at no cost to Iowans injured in motorcycle accidents who do not already have an attorney.  The book also includes 6 Things to Know Before Talking to the Insurance Adjustor or Hiring an Attorney and 9 Things You Should Know about Iowa Motorcycle cases.  Finally, you can learn about motorcycle accidents in the comfort of your own home with no risk or obligation.  Why do we offer a Book at No Cost?  For more than 20 years Attorneys Corey Walker and Erik Bair who both practice primarily in personal injury law have represented hundreds of injured Iowans including many Iowans injured in motorcycle accidents.  They have seen too many clients make mistakes before they had the “right” information resulting in them losing thousands of dollars.  So to learn how to find-out what an Iowa personal injury attorney should do for you and what you should know about Iowa motorcycle cases request your copy now. 

  • Things to avoid in my Iowa motorcycle accident claim?

    You should never lie to your doctors, your attorney, or the insurance adjustor.  Even telling a small lie can significantly damage your credibility and your case.  Just like your mother told you, the best policy is to always tell the truth so you will not have to worry about what you said last time. 

    Along the same lines, you should not try to hide prior accidents or injuries from your attorney.  Insurance companies have huge databases and they keep track of all of your prior claims and accidents.  If you have had prior accidents or injuries then you should tell your attorney as the attorney can conduct an investigation and tell you whether it will be a problem or not.  However, your attorney cannot help you if you do not tell him or her about the prior accidents or injuries. 

    When dealing with your doctors and other medical providers it is important to tell them everything that hurts and all the problems you are having.  If you tell your doctors or other medical providers like physical therapists that you are "okay" or "doing fine" then they will record that in your medical records and later on this could come back and cause problems if you are claiming you are still having problems.  Also, if you are still having pain and/or problems then you need to continue to regularly see your doctor.  If your doctor says to call me if you have any problems and you do not call for 6 months, then that is considered a gap in your treatment which can significantly reduce the value of your case.  If you are still having ongoing problems then you should probably be seeing a doctor every 4 to 6 weeks, unless you are in physical therapy, waiting to see a specialist or have reached maximum medical improvement and been told there is nothing more that any of your medical providers can do to help. 

    For a list of other things to avoid in your Iowa motorcycle accident claim you can request our motorcycle accident book at no cost, risk or obligation by logging onto http://www.MotorcycleAccidentBook.com.  The book also includes 9 Things that Iowans Injured in Motorcycle Accidents should know along with 6 Things to Know Before Hiring an Attorney or Talking to the Insurance Adjustor.  Finally, you can learn about Iowa motorcycle accidents in the comfort of your own home with no obligation or risk.  Why do we offer a Book at No Cost to You?  For more than 20 years Iowa Personal Injury Attorneys Corey Walker and Erik Bair have represented hundreds of injured Iowans including many Iowans injured in motorcycle accidents.  They have seen too many clients make costly mistakes before they knew their rights and responsibilities which cost them losing thousands of dollars.  So to learn more about your Iowa motorcycle accident claim order your copy now.