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 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.

  • What are the most common hazards in the workplace cited by OSHA?

    All workers should feel safe in the workplace. As such, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses workplace safety in Des Moines and sets workplace standards for different industries to which employers should adhere. Despite the rules, violations regularly occur. According to OSHA, the following are 10 of the most common hazards in the workplace that they must investigate.

    Fall Protection Standards

    Under section 1926.501(a) of Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, all employers must put in place protection from falls, and employees shall only be allowed to work on surfaces that have “requisite strength and structural integrity.”

    Some fall protection requirements named under the section include this list.

    • Protected sides and edges
    • A guardrail or safety net system
    • Personal fall arrest systems
    • Covers over holes
    • Other barricades or fencing systems

    Respiratory Protection

    Workers must be protected from chemicals, toxins, or other pollutants. If other methods are not available (ventilation, confinement), then workers shall use respirators. Unfortunately, a lack of respiratory protection is the fourth most commonly cited standard.

    Machine Guarding

    A lack of guarded machinery is extremely dangerous and can lead to a number of accident and injury types, including amputation injuries. OSHA Machinery and Machine Guarding Standards require that guards “shall be affixed to the machine where possible and secured elsewhere if… not possible.”

    Guards are required—but not always used— with the following types of machinery.

    • Guillotine cutters
    • Power saws
    • Shears
    • Alligator shears
    • Jointers
    • Portable power tools
    • Power presses
    • Milling machines

    Electrical Requirements

    Every year one of the top four causes of construction worker fatalities is electrocution.  Electrical equipment used by workers should be examined on a routine basis to ensure that it is free from known hazards. Unfortunately, examination does not always occur, leading to accidents.

    The other six common workplace hazard violations.

    • Hazard communication
    • Scaffolding
    • Powered industrial trucks
    • Lockout/Tagout
    • Ladders
    • Electrical wiring method standards

    Speak with a Des Moines Attorney Who Knows Workplace Safety Principles

    If you’ve had a workplace accident, then you need to consult with an attorney who knows OSHA workplace safety standards, as well as who is liable.

    What’s more, you need a lawyer who is committed to putting in the work required to investigate the exact cause of your accident, build a case, and help you to determine which claim type is right for you (workers’ compensation vs. third-party liability). At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we will do all that and more. Call our offices today at 888-435-9886 to learn more, or fill out a contact form.

  • Will the dog be put down if I file a dog bite claim?

    A dog bite claim – either with an insurance company (homeowner’s insurance) or in a civil case for damages – does not have any connection with an order for a dog to be euthanized.

    When a dog bites a person in Des Moines, the dog bite victim deserves to have their medical expenses – and often other, noneconomic expenses – paid. Iowa is a strict liability dog bite state, meaning that when a dog bites a person, the dog’s owner is almost always held liable, found in Iowa Code Section 351.28.

    While this is a positive thing for the dog bite victim, a victim may have hesitations about filing a claim, with fears that if they do, it would result in euthanasia. Alternately, a Des Moines dog bite victim might become upset if the dog put down doesn’t happen.

    A dog bite claim is not meant to penalize the dog or the dog’s owner in any way, other than to ensure that the dog bite owner pays for damages incurred by the victim. These damages may include actual costs, such as medical expenses, as well as noneconomic costs, like damages for pain and suffering.

    Laws Surrounding Euthanizing Animals in Iowa State

    Des Moines animal control officers can seize a dog that is considered to be vicious under Section 18.59 of Des Moines city ordinances. The statute reads that the chief humane officer can act “in his or her discretion” after receiving a complaint stating that a particular dog is vicious, by notifying the dog owner of the charge.

    The person who is the owner of the dog then has three business days to contest the validity of the complaint alleging that the dog is vicious. If the claim is not disputed, then the chief humane officer can seize the dog. The dog will be impounded for seven days. If, during that seven-day period, the dog’s owner does not take action, the dog will be euthanized at the conclusion of the seven days.

    Should I file a claim for damages if a dog has bitten me?

    If you suffered injuries as a result of a dog bite, then filing a claim is in your best interest. You can recover the financial damages needed to address the cost of treatment for dog bites in a claim.

    If you have more questions about how to file a claim, the types of damages you can recover, or how filing a claim will affect the dog or dog’s owner, don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys are ready to meet today. Call us now at 888-435-9886 or read our free eBook, Iowa Consumer’s Guide to Dog Bites.

  • Is the Des Moines pit bull ordinance effective at reducing dog bites?

    The fact that pit bulls in Des Moines must be registered as dangerous dogs and that owners must purchase special liability insurance when a dog is labeled as vicious, is inferred to reduce dog bites. There has not been any empirical evidence to prove anything at this time.

    Changing the Language of the Law: Vicious vs. High Risk

    Under Des Moines’ city ordinances Article II - Dogs, a pit bull is automatically considered to be a “vicious” dog, and must be licensed as such. The Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Iowa, along with other animal activists, have proposed changes to the city’s pit bull ordinance that would amend the automatic labeling of the dogs as “vicious.”

    While the ARL has voiced support for breed neutrality, others believe that the label should be downgraded to “high risk.” The City Council agrees with the latter, and a new ordinance will change the wording. It doesn’t matter for which designation a type of dog qualifies, if it causes long-term injury, dog bite law applies and the injured should call a dog bite attorney to file a claim.

    Pit bulls have a higher incident rate of bites than any other dogs except for Alaskan huskies. The high number of pit bull bites in the city could suggest one of two things: that the city’s ordinance requiring pit bulls to be registered as vicious isn’t effective in reducing the number of dog bites, or that the problem could be much worse if the ordinance didn’t exist.

    Preventing Dog Bites in Des Moines

    While changing the word vicious to high risk in Des Moines’ city ordinances may not have much effect, lawmakers in Des Moines are hoping that other changes to city code will. In addition to changing registration/labeling requirements, and the enforced special liability insurance fees will also be enacted upon dog owners whose pets habitually violate the law.

    Des Moines residents whose pets act aggressively more than once may potentially pay for the following.

    • Boarding fees
    • Micro-chipping
    • Impound fees

    Bitten by a dog in Des Moines? Call a Dog Bite Attorney Today

    Under Iowa dog bite law, dog owners are held under strict liability for harm caused by their dogs. This means that when a dog – pit bull or not – attacks another person, the dog’s owner is almost always responsible for paying for all damages.

    To help you recover damages following a dog attack, contact the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair today for all you need to know about Iowa’s dog bite laws, and what compensation you’re entitled to. Reach us now at 888-435-9886.

  • How do I report an OSHA violation?

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is responsible for setting and enforcing workplace health and safety regulations. If you notice a workplace safety violation, then you have the right to report the problem to OSHA. Here's how to report an OSHA violation.

    Report the Problem to Your Employer

    The first step is notifying your employer of the issue. If your employer becomes aware of the safety hazard, they may take action to correct it. If they do, then you may not have to take any additional action. But if they don't, proceed to take other measures to coerce the employer to correct it.

    Take Detailed Notes Regarding the Safety Problem

    When reporting OSHA violations to the agency, it’s very important that you provide the administration with as many details as possible. As such, take specific notes regarding the safety problem, including exactly what the problem entails. Also note who is aware of the problem, when the problem began, and potential risks to workers.

    Report a Safety Problem to OSHA In Person or On the Phone

    After you identified a safety problem, notified your employer of the problem, and took thorough notes regarding it, you can report the problem in person at a local OSHA office. You can also report it over the phone by calling toll free at 1-800-321-OSHA.

    File a Complaint with OSHA Online

    If you would rather file your safety concern online, you have the option of filing a complaint through the administration’s website. The online form is completely anonymous and includes questions about the description and location of the hazard, to whose attention you brought the problem, and what your current status within the workplace is (former employee, current employee, etc.).

    For Life-Threatening Situations

    If the situation is an emergency, or an “imminent life threatening situation,” you should bypass filing a claim online and call OSHA immediately. Use the number above – 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) – to report emergency situations.

    Take Legal Action if a Workplace Hazard Injured You in Des Moines

    Workers’ compensation in the state of Iowa allows you to recover damages for harm you sustained in a workplace injury. In some cases, though, a third party (outside of your employer) may be responsible for the harm you suffered. In either situation, an attorney can assist you in recovering benefits or damages. Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines today at 888-435-9886 or use our contact form to schedule your consultation.

  • Are novelty motorcycle helmets safe versus DOT-certified helmets?

    All helmets are not equal – if you’re a motorcyclist, the helmet you choose can be key in keeping your head protected. While novelty motorcycle helmets may look attractive, they do not meet federal Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards.

    What is a novelty helmet?

    A novelty motorcycle helmet is manufactured without meeting DOT safety regulations. DOT helmets meet FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) number 218. Novelty helmets may have a thin padding and may be relatively lightweight. DOT helmets are usually heavier and have more padding than do novelty helmets.

    Novelty Motorcycle Helmet Performance Testing

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted performance testing on novelty helmets. A summary of that testing, published by the NHTSA in April 2007, concludes that “novelty helmets perform significantly worse in terms of their ability to absorb impact energy during a motorcycle crash.”

    In fact, a rider who is wearing a novelty helmet at the time of a crash and head impact has a 100 percent probability of brain injuries and/or skull fracture, per the NHTSA’s computer simulations. Essentially, wearing a novelty helmet at the time of crash, rather than a DOT-certified helmet, greatly increases a motorcyclist’s chance of sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    How do I find a safe motorcycle helmet?

    Choosing style over safety can lead to catastrophic and fatal injuries. The NHTSA recommends that all motorcyclists, in order to identify a safe helmet, check for thick inner lining, sturdy chin straps and rivets, helmet weight, design of helmet, and the DOT-certified sticker. If a DOT sticker is not visible on a helmet, do not wear it while riding, as there is a strong possibility that the helmet will not adequately protect your head in the event of a crash.

    Don’t Wait Any Longer to Take Action

    If you currently have a novelty helmet and are using it for head protection while riding, take action now to replace the novelty helmet with a DOT-certified one. Doing so may save your life.

    In the event that you are in an accident and do sustain injuries, there are options for recovering money for your injuries, either through an insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys can help explain the advantages of filing a claim through each avenue. You can reach us now for answers to your legal questions at 888-435-9886.