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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  • Does workers' compensation for mental health therapy apply after a work accident?

    When you have a medical diagnosis that you developed a mental health condition related to your employment, it can become a workers' comp claim.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after a person has experienced a traumatic event.

    We're most familiar with soldiers experiencing it upon returning home from war. But it can happen to anyone who has been in or been witness to a catastrophic accident or traumatic event.

    Iowa workers who were severely injured in an accident on the job have a risk of developing PTSD following their accident. Even after physical wounds have healed, going back on the job or even just thinking about work can trigger symptoms of PTSD such as anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

    When Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health Therapy is Applicable

    Mental conditions from the workplace can occur for many reasons. The most common cause is suffering a severe injury on the job and developing PTSD after the injury. However, a worker can experience a mental condition from just witnessing a co-worker in a horrific accident.

    Workplace stresses and events can also lead to conditions like PTSD. People who work in stressful jobs like EMTs and firefighters may experience several gruesome accidents in their lifetime which can take a toll on their mind and body over time. People who work in a hostile, stressful job can also suffer from anxiety and fatigue if their job duties expose them to abuse and other trauma.

    Difficulties Common with Mental Health Therapy  Workers' Comp Cases

    Causation is the most important aspect of a workers’ compensation claim. First, you will require a medical diagnosis of the mental health condition. Second, you will need to connect that condition's cause to something that occurred while you were on the job or an injury sustained while working.

    Workers' comp benefits for mental health therapy can be extremely difficult to collect in cases of mental health disorders. Most mental health conditions do not appear immediately, and some such as PTSD can take months to develop and present in your daily life.

    The ease with which you can win a workers' comp case for mental health therapy is partially dependent on how long it has been since the traumatic incident that caused your mental health condition. The longer it has been, the more tenuous the relationship between your work struggles and your subsequent disorder. 

    Lawyers Help When Having Trouble Getting Mental Health Therapy

    As long as you have the proper evidence to show that your mental health condition occurred because of a work-related event, and a doctor corroborates this, workers' compensation should cover the cost of mental health therapy.

    If you are denied coverage for therapy, Walker, Billingsley & Bair is here to help. Call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form to find out about your legal options for ensuring your mental health medical expenses are covered.

  • Do I need evidence for dog bite claim? If so, what kind?

    The state of Iowa imposes a strict liability statute regarding dog bites. Strict liability means that the owner of a dog is liable for “all damages caused” by his or her dog unless the victim is performing an illegal act at the time of the attack.

    Under statutory law, then, the dog bite victim does not need to prove negligence. Under case law, though, more evidence will be required. Here’s an overview of the types of evidence for dog bite claim you'll need.

    Evidence Necessary Under Statutory Law

    If you’re pursuing a dog bite claim under statutory law, the type of evidence you’ll need is relatively straightforward. Mostly, you’ll need to prove the following.

    • The dog in question was the dog that bit you
    • That you suffered injuries as a result of the bite/attack
    • That you were not doing anything illegal at the time of the bite/attack

    Other than these three items above, there is relatively little else that you’ll need to establish.

    Evidence Necessary Under Case Law

    To recover damages under the common law, or case law, however, you’ll need to establish the negligence of the dog owner. If you can prove negligence, you may be able to recover a greater damages amount, including damages for pain and suffering.

    Courts consider a situation as dog owner negligence when the dog owner knows that the dog is dangerous, but yet fails to restrain it. For example, if the dog had rabies and the owner knew or should have reasonably known about it, but failed to control the dog, then the owner acted negligently. Or, if the dog had bitten someone in the past, and the owner didn’t restrain the dog properly, then the owner acted negligently.

    To recover damages under case law, and then, you’ll need to prove the following.

    • That the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous dog’s nature
    • That the owner failed to take action to prevent the dog bite/attack
    • That the dangerous dog bit or attacked you
    • That you suffered injuries as a result of the bite/attack

    If you can prove the above, then you’ll be eligible to recover damages for the full extent of injuries suffered.

    What should I do next?

    If a dog in Iowa has bitten you, you might want to read our dog bites blogs about psychological injuries following a dog bite, and three reasons to hire a dog bite attorney. Then, call our offices to schedule your free case consultation. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we want to represent you! Dial 888-435-9886 today.

  • How does the outcome of a driver’s DUI criminal case affect my car accident claim?

    Iowa is an at-fault car insurance state, and drivers are required to carry proof of financial responsibility. When a driver causes an accident, then he or she (or the driver's insurance company) is required under law to pay for damages.

    When a driver is drunk at the time of the accident, intoxication is often enough to establish negligence and fault. While criminal and civil law is completely separate, the outcome of the other driver’s DUI criminal case can affect your car accident claim and your ability to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver.

    The Outcome May Help to Substantiate Fault

    The outcome of the other driver’s DUI criminal case can help either prove or disprove fault. If the case results in a verdict of guilty and a sentence, then this can be brought to the insurance company as an indication of the driver’s negligence.

    Conversely, if the court issues a verdict of "not guilty," then proving that the driver was at fault due to intoxication may be more difficult. If a person is found not to be guilty, then that person may argue that his or her intoxication level was not significant enough to contribute to the accident; therefore, he or she was not at fault.

    When a Criminal Case Doesn’t Change Your Car Accident Claim

    In some cases, even a verdict of guilty in a DUI case may not change your car accident claim. If you did anything to contribute to the accident, then you may be held responsible under Iowa’s comparative fault laws. The law, found in Iowa Code 668.3, states that contributory fault does not bar recovery of damages but that damages shall be diminished in proportion to fault. Therefore, even if the drunk driver was 95 percent at fault for your accident, your damages amount may still decrease by five percent.

    Do I need an attorney after a car accident with a drunk driver?

    You should always hire an attorney when filing a car accident claim for damages.

    Doing so can help you recover your full compensation amount. When a drunk driver is involved, though, an attorney may be even more valuable to have on your side. Your attorney can help establish the fault of the drunk driver, ensuring that you get 100 percent of your benefit amount.

    At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we can help you prove fault and get compensated. Contact us today at 888-435-9886 to learn more and get started. 

  • Does my car accident claim cover mental health therapy?

    Injuries sustained in a car accident aren’t always physical. Often, injuries from a car accident are not visible. When psychological therapy is required to treat injuries after a car accident, a policyholder may wonder whether or not a car insurance company will pay for the coverage. Here’s what you need to know:

    It Depends on the Policy Amount

    Your insurance company is only liable for paying damages up to your policy amount. In Iowa, your medical payments coverage -- if you have it -- will pay for all medical expenses. Medical payments coverage is not required, and the limit is $5,000. Often, physical injuries alone are enough to exhaust this amount.

    If the accident was the fault of the other driver, then that driver’s bodily injury liability coverage, which is required in a minimum amount of $20,000 per person, can pay for mental health therapy.

    The Extent of Your Injuries and the Severity of the Accident

    Assuming that the policy amount is great enough to cover the expense of mental health injuries, an insurance company most likely will pay for those expenses, assuming that they are reasonable for both the severity of the accident and the seriousness of your physical injuries. If mental health injuries appear too extreme for either, then a car insurance company may deny this part of the claim.

    What are my other options for getting mental health therapy paid for?

    If an insurance company refuses to pay for mental health therapy or if injuries are so severe that filing a claim with the insurance company will not yield enough damages, you have another option: You can file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. A personal injury lawsuit can yield damages for all forms of medical expenses, as well as damages for mental pain and emotional (and physical) suffering. A claim must be filed within two years under Iowa Code 614.1.

    How an Attorney Can Help Recover Damages for Mental Health Costs

    If you’re filing a claim with an insurance company, you’ll have to prove that your mental health injuries are significant enough to require treatment and that the insurance company should be responsible for paying for this expense. During this negotiations process, an attorney can be a key asset.

    If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit instead, an attorney can be critical in explaining the law and your options. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we can help you today. Call us at 888-435-9886 now or contact us online

  • Will workers’ compensation cover regular pain treatment?

    Workers who are injured on the job may require treatment for the physical pain they suffer as a result of their injury. These treatments may include prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation. If you need treatment for pain caused by an injury that happened while you were working, here’s what you know about how workers’ compensation insurance will handle pain treatment.

    All Medical Benefits Must Be Paid

    Workers’ Compensation Law Section 85.27 requires that the employer (or the employer’s insurer) pay for all “reasonable and necessary medical care incurred to treat the injury.” As such, if pain treatment is considered to be a reasonable medical expense in a medical professional’s opinion, then your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is required under law to pay it.

    Treatment for pain should be administered for as long as a medical professional recommends it.

    Who decides what medical benefits I deserve?

    Who gets to determine the medical benefits to which you’re entitled, and what benefits will workers’ compensation insurance pay? In Iowa, your employer has the right to choose your doctor. Workers’ compensation must pay for pain treatment if that doctor believes you require it.

    However, the doctor your employer chooses instead may conclude that you do not need any pain treatment for your injury. If this is the case and you feel as though you do require treatment for pain, then you have the right to request alternative care. If your request is not granted, you can apply to the workers’ compensation commissioner.

    I’ve been denied pain treatment – what should I do?

    If you’re physically suffering as a result of your workplace injury, you have the right to treatment. What’s more, you have the right to have workers’ compensation pay for pain treatment. Because advocating for yourself can be hard, our attorneys are here to help.

    At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we understand how frustrating it is when your employer denies you the care that you need. Treatment for pain is incredibly important – if you’ve had treatment denied, we can help.

    Our attorneys are passionate about workers in our state and are determined to work hard to get you your full benefit amount. To learn more, call us today at 888-435-9886 or fill out our online contact form.  

  • What do I do if I think a dog is going to attack me?

    If you get the feeling that a dog is going to attack then give the dog space and then stand still and avoid eye contact. If a dog attacks, then you may suffer from permanent injuries, disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. If you are ever in a situation where you believe that a dog is about to attack, here’s what to do if you think a dog is going to attack you.

    Preempt the Attack by Giving the Dog a Wide Berth

    There are a number of signs that a dog will give if it is feeling angry, scared, or territorial.

    • Tensing its body
    • Raising the hair on its neck and back (raising its hackles)
    • Opening its eyes wide so that you can see the whites (whale eye)
    • Backing away
    • Flattening its ears against its head

    If you notice any of the above, get away from the dog immediately in a calm manner. Sometimes giving a dog enough space is all it takes to stop a dog attack.

    Remain Motionless

    It may be too late to move away. If a dog is close enough to attack you and looks like it might do just that, you should try to remain as still as possible. Don’t move until the dog moves away. Remember, a dog is much faster than you. Your calmness may remove the threat of a dog attack.

    Avoid Eye Contact

    Dogs read eye contact as aggressive body language.  You don't have to necessarily make yourself blind to its movements, turning your head and looking out of the corner of your eye is standard submissive dog behavior. Dogs normally attack because they feel threatened, they think their young are threatened, or you are on their territory. The result that the dog probably wants is for you to be submissive and vacate the area.

    Resist Your Impulses

    Your natural reaction if a dog looks like it will attack you will probably be to scream, try to run away or hit the dog. Avoid all of these behaviors if at all possible. The best thing that you can do is remain quiet, remain still, and put something between yourself and the dog (like a coat or purse). Don’t fight back – doing so can enrage the animal even further. Even if you’re being attacked, try to remain still and make sure your face is covered.

    Know Your Rights as a Dog Bite Victim

    If a dog in the state of Iowa attacks you, it’s important that you know your rights to recovery. Iowa has a strict liability dog bite policy in its code (Section 351.28). If a dog bites you, its owner is liable for damages.

    Hopefully, a dog never attacks you. But if one does, you may need a lawyer to represent you while seeking damages. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our lawyers have experience working with dog bite claims, just read our dog bite blog. Call us at 888-435-9886 today.

  • How do I file claim after motorcycle accident in Iowa?

    To file claim after motorcycle accident, you’ll need to establish injury or property loss, adhere to the statute of limitations, and hire a lawyer.  Consider these tips on how to successfully file a claim from our established motorcycle accident law firm.

    Seek Medical Attention and Save Records

    If you were injured in your motorcycle accident, the first thing that you need to do following the accident is to seek medical attention. Then, you need to gather all the documentation relevant to that medical care. When you file your claim with the insurance company, you’ll need to provide proof of your injuries and expenses.

    Review Your Policy

    All motorcyclists and motorists are required to carry proof of financial responsibility in Iowa, most typically in the form of car or motorcycle insurance. If you carry motorcycle insurance, then you need to review your policy as soon as possible after an accident. Often, default insurance coverage is not enough.

    If you were at fault for the accident and only have the basic coverage amount, then your policy will only pay up to that amount. If you have other types of coverage, though, like medical payments coverage, then you may be entitled to more money, regardless of who caused the accident.

    File in Time

    It’s extremely important that you notify your insurance company of your motorcycle accident immediately following the accident, and that you file your claim as quickly as possible. If you don’t, you may miss the stipulated time requirements and may see a denied claim. If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages, you have two years under Iowa Code 614.1.

    Contact an Attorney

    Seeking medical attention and saving records, reviewing your policy, and filing your claim on time are all essential aspects of filing a claim after a motorcycle accident. To ensure that you get all the benefits, you also need to contact a motorcycle crash attorney.

    Having an attorney on your side can increase your chances of getting a higher compensation amount. In the event that your claim can’t be settled, an attorney can help you take it to court.

    At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys can help you file your claim today. If you need an advocate to guide you through the process, our lawyers are ready to get to work. We have the determination and know-how you need! Call us at 888-435-9986 to get started now.

  • Can I recover damages for depression after car accident?

    In order to collect damages related to mental suffering such as depression after car accident, you must have evidence that the mental issue occurred because of the car crash and hurt you sustained in the crash. When involved in a car accident, most people think of only their physical injuries. However, depression or anxiety after a car accident are some of the most common car accident injuries, mentally. Difficulty processing emotions is especially likely if you suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in the crash.

    Issues a Court Might Award Damages Monies to Address

    Car accident claims made for severe injuries may include the mental trauma suffered by those close to the victims and the victims themselves. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common result of catastrophic car accidents and can cause long-term suffering even after physical wounds have healed.

    Depression and anxiety can lead to the following circumstances.

    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Poor sleep quality
    • Withdrawal from friends and family
    • Impairment of a person's ability to work and earn a living

    To this extent, depression and anxiety damages should be covered by a car accident claim, but in many cases it is not. Psychiatric evaluation can be helpful in diagnosing the conditions and causes, as well as a prognosis of how it is expected to impact your life.

    Mental damages are often overlooked because they are not as easily quantified as physical damages. Without a doctor's diagnosis and prognosis, it may be difficult to convince the insurance adjuster that your settlement should include pain and suffering or "non-economic" damages.

    It is unlikely that the insurance company will include compensation for depression and anxiety without you directly requesting it in your claim. Therefore, it is important to work with a Des Moines car accident attorney who will advocate for your full and fair compensation.

    We Make Sure You Receive Full Compensation for Your Damages

    The Walker, Billingsley and Bair personal injury law firm dedicates its time to leveling the playing field between injured Iowans and insurance companies. When the insurance company neglects to compensate for the difficulty of mentally recovering from a traumatic event, our attorneys step up to help make things right.

    We have offices in Des Moines and Newton, and serve all of the surrounding areas. For immediate assistance, call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form and get the information you need.

  • Which circumstances may make a dog more likely to attack/bite?

    Aggression is the most common and most serious behavior issue in dogs and can be the reason dogs bite. However, some dogs may be more prone to biting than others in certain circumstances. The following reviews situations that may make a dog more likely to bite or attack.

    If a Dog is Scared

    When a dog feels scared, it may demonstrate what the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) terms fear aggression. Most animals, when scared, will try to get away from the thing that is scaring them. If escape isn’t an option, aggression may be displayed as a defense mechanism. A fearful dog often will attack from behind, so always facing a dog that you sense may be scared of you is advised.

    When a Dog is Territorial

    Another common reason for a dog to bite or attack a person or another animal is in a display of territorial aggression. If you enter the property of a person whose dog identifies the property as theirs, the dog may bark, growl or attack. Both male and female dogs are often territorial. Dogs also can be territorial over possessions, like bones, toys or food. Sometimes dogs are even territorial over people.

    To Protect an Owner

    Dogs are naturally social animals that travel in packs and protect one another in the wild. In the event that a dog senses that its dog parent, or owner, is in danger, the dog may react aggressively in order to protect the owner. A dog may react aggressively to protect its puppies or another dog.

    If the Dog is Being Taunted, Teased or Attacked

    Finally, dogs may respond aggressively if they are taunted, teased, attacked or otherwise feel endangered. When this happens, the dog displays defensive aggression. Because dogs can be unpredictable, it is never recommended to taunt, tease or otherwise attack/upset a dog -- doing so can be very dangerous.

    Learn More About Dog Bite Law in Des Moines

    Exercising caution around a dog that you don’t know is always a good idea. In the event that a dog attacks you, you have legal options. To learn more about your rights, responsibilities and Iowa dog bite law, visit our dog bite blog today. Or if you want to schedule your free consultation to learn about whether you’ll be able to recover damages for a dog bite, visit Walker, Billingsley & Bair online or call 888-435-9886 today. 

  • Does workers' compensation cover rehabilitation expenses for my injury?

    Many types of work injuries such as strained/sprained muscles, broken limbs and torn ligaments can result in a need for physical therapy in order to restore a worker to top condition. If your work injury requires rehabilitation, your costs should be covered under your employer's workers' compensation policy.

    When is rehabilitation necessary?

    Rehabilitation is necessary when a single procedure or treatment is not enough to resolve your health issue fully. The most common type of rehabilitation is physical therapy and is used to restore full range of motion and strength in injured limbs and joints.

    Another common type of rehabilitation is re-training for your job. If you have been out of work for several months, you may need to be re-trained to resume your previous work. If you suffered a life-altering injury such as the loss of a limb, you may need to learn new ways to adapt to your regular work duties or learn new duties to replace tasks you no longer are able to complete due to your injury.

    Finally, rehabilitation can include psychological counseling. Traumatic accidents like oil rig explosions and building collapses can cause mental trauma in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you witnessed a catastrophic accident in which you were seriously injured or saw a coworker die, you might need therapy to overcome any lasting feelings of fear, anxiety or depression left after the event.

    If Your Employer Will Not Cover Rehabilitation

    Make sure that you have a referral from your primary treating doctor explaining your need for rehabilitation services. It may be a case of your employer or the insurance company only wanting you to see their providers, and you will be referred to a different rehabilitation service.

    If your employer does not feel it is necessary to offer you special training or job duties to suit your recovery or changes in physical or mental ability, you should explain your current condition, share doctor's notes and finally share your prognosis for recovery.

    If your doctor has not provided you with a plan for re-training at work, be proactive and develop a plan of your own that you feel would benefit your return to work. Make sure that if your doctor has told you to resume only light duty for a period and that he or she defines what light duty does and does not entail. These items should be shared with your employer to attempt to resolve any discrepancies in allowing your rehabilitation coverage.

    When Your Employer or Insurance Won't Allow Rehabilitation, Call Us

    Your rights to workers' compensation benefits rely on your employer reporting your condition to the insurance company and the insurance company's response to the documentation. If your employer fails to provide the full documentation of your injury, medical care and recovery, the insurance company may not cover necessary treatment.

    If you are denied rehabilitation service coverage of any type, it's time to talk to a workers' compensation attorney. The Walker, Billingsley and Bair workers' compensation law firm is here to help injured Iowans seek the full amount of compensation and care for their work injury, including rehabilitation. Contact our office today to schedule a FREE consultation regarding your case and legal options. For immediate assistance, call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form and get the information you need.