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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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
- 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.
Can I get fired for filing a workers' compensation claim in Des Moines?
Lots of workers wonder, “Can I get fired for filing workers' compensation after being hurt on the job in Iowa?” The answer is yes because in Iowa most employees are employees at will. The employer may not come out and say that is the reason but, if you are fired after your work injury, you may have a claim for wrongful discharge and should promptly contact an attorney as the time limits for filing a complaint can be short. While the right to file for workers' compensation is an action protected by Iowa law, sometimes a worker’s employer may retaliate. If you’re an employee who filed a claim for workers’ compensation in Iowa and are worried that your employer may react negatively, here’s what you need to know.
Workers’ Rights Under Workers’ Compensation
Workers compensation is designed as a contract between an employer and his or her employees that stipulates that by providing workers’ compensation insurance for job-related injuries and diseases, the employee will forego his or her right to civil action against the employer.
In Iowa, workers’ compensation laws provide medical and disability benefits to workers who are injured or harmed on the job. According to the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation, the majority of employees who are injured while working are covered.
Employer Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
While the laws in Iowa clearly state that an injured worker has a right to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, some employers may retaliate against the employee for doing so. Examples of retaliation may include giving the employee a poor performance review, taking a negative action against the employee or even firing the employee. So you can get fired for filing for workers' compensation; however, all of these forms of retaliation are against the law.
What is At Will Employment?
If you an At Will Employee it means you can be terminated or dismissed by an employer for any reason as long as it is not illegal. This means they do not have to establish a just cause for the termination. That is why they may tell you that your termination wasn't related to your workers' comp claim even if it was.
Iowa Law and Wrongful Discharge
LawforChange.org provides a review of Iowa’s wrongful termination laws, which stipulate that if a worker is retaliated against for doing something that is protected by existing public policy (like filing a workers’ compensation claim for benefits), then wrongful termination has occurred. As such, the employee has the right to file a claim for wrongful discharge in an Iowa court. If an employer fires an employee, the act must have occurred for the employee's actions that are not protected by state or federal law.
Contact a Work Injury Attorney in Des Moines Today
If you’ve filed a claim for workers’ compensation following a workplace injury and your claim has been denied or if your employer has retaliated against you for doing so, you may need legal help. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our personal injury attorneys are ready to sit down and provide you with a free consultation regarding your case today. Schedule your consultation now by calling us today at 888-425-9886 or by contacting us online.
How dangerous is working with styrene for Des Moines workers?
Employers and workers alike should take measures to prevent exposure to dangerous materials. One such material that may cause illness to exposed workers is styrene. Styrene is a synthetic chemical often found in plastic, rubber, and different resins.
Certain workers – particularly those who work in the plastics or rubber industry or manufacture boats or tubs – are at risk of exposure to styrene. While working with styrene doesn’t always cause harm, it can, especially when employers or workers don’t follow workplace safety standards.
The Dangers of Styrene
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), styrene can negatively affect the central nervous system.
In fact, exposure to styrene may result in any of the following listed below.
- A feeling of intoxication
- Trouble concentrating
In addition, some workers may experience respiratory problems. Further, styrene is also a skin irritant and may cause a burning sensation when contact with skin occurs. Exposure to styrene can also cause nausea, dermatitis, depression, and asthma. Long-term exposure can cause brain disease, liver damage, nerve tissue damage, and more.
Workers Can Collect Workers’ Compensation for Styrene-related Illness
As the risks of styrene are evident and workers incur occupational illnesses and diseases as a result of styrene exposure, companies should address the issue. They should implement policies to train workers in the use of hazardous materials and how to avoid exposure to them. Employers should always ensure that all workers have equipment necessary to reduce dangerous levels of exposure.
If you developed an illness or disease you believe is related to working with styrene in your place of employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In Des Moines, it’s important to inform your employer of your illness or disease as soon as possible. And then start filing your workers’ compensation claim, with help from a lawyer.
In some cases, workers may have a valid third-party liability claim against a party other than an employer or co-worker. This may be the case if a third-party contractor was negligent, leading to over-exposure to styrene because it did not follow proper safety standards.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Now: Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair
If you developed an illness from working with styrene, don’t hesitate to take action. Call the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines for help getting the compensation you deserve. Reach our offices now at 888-435-9886 or via our contact form.
What areas are motorcycle blind spots all Des Moines drivers should know?
Motorcycle blind spot areas all Des Moines drivers should know include the rear left and rear right of the motorcycle. Most people are aware of blind spots on cars and large trucks, and know to stay clear of them. But motorcycles, despite their small size, have a number of blind spots too. If you’re a motorcyclist or drive a passenger car in Des Moines, here’s some information about motorcycle blind spots you should know.
Blind Spots are on the Rear-Left and Rear-Right of a Motorcycle
Motorcyclists are lucky in that there aren’t a lot of obstructions to vision on a motorcycle. However, directly behind and to the right or the left are two blind spots that motorcyclists should be familiar with.
How to Prevent a Motorcycle Accident
While checking mirrors is a must, motorcyclists should also do a head check where they turn their head to make sure the blind spot is clear. By checking blind spots in this manner before changing lanes, you may be able to avoid driving into a lane that has an oncoming motorist.
Also remember to stay out of passenger car blind spots (similar to motorcycle blind spots) and truck blind spots (in front, directly behind, and to the left and right of the truck).
Other tips for safe riding include:
- Always wear a motorcycle helmet
- Wear the proper motorcycle riding gear
- Drive sober
- Plan your route in advance
- Adhere to all posted traffic laws
- Make sure your bike is in tip-top shape
For regular motorists, remembering that motorcyclists have blind spots too and keeping a safe distance can help keep both you and the motorcyclist stay safe.
What should I do if I am in an accident?
If are in a car accident in Des Moines, you have a few options for financial recovery. If the accident was your fault, you can file a claim with your own insurance company if you have the appropriate coverage. Or, if the accident was the fault of another driver, you can file a claim with that driver's insurance company or file a lawsuit; you may also file a claim with your own insurer if you have the right coverage.
Following an accident in Des Moines, the guidance of an attorney can be critical, especially if you’re not sure whether you should file a claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit against the driver. In Iowa, you only have two years to file a claim for damages, so it’s important that you act quickly. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our personal injury attorneys can help you now. To get started, call us today at 888-435-9886 or contact us online.
What will happen after reporting a potentially dangerous dog in Des Moines?
A potentially dangerous dog is one that bit someone, chases or approaches a person on "public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack," or a dog with a known propensity to attack without being provoked. It also can be a dog older than eight weeks that is born to a dog found to be dangerous.
After reporting a potentially dangerous dog in Des Moines, the city will take certain steps to determine if the dog is potentially dangerous.
What will happen once the city impounds the dog?
The city may declare a dog potentially dangerous or dangerous based on probable cause. This can include your complaint and testimony, reports of dog bites, testimony by an animal control officer or police officer, a previous report the dog was found dangerous by another authority, or other evidence.
The city may notify the owner of the dog that it declared the dog dangerous or potentially dangerous. The owner may appeal the decision, but the city may impound the dog during the appeal. The Des Moines Municipal Court or a higher court either will order the dog's redemption or destruction.
If redeemed, the owner must get a special license for the dog and pay an initial fee, as well as subsequent renewal fees. The owner must confine the dog on the owner's property and post proper warnings that the property contains a potentially dangerous dog. The owner also must obtain a surety bond of no less than $100,000 that is payable to a person injured by the dog. The court may order the owner to spay or neuter the dog, if not already spayed or neutered.
The owner will receive a certificate of registration upon showing compliance with the confinement and other requirements listed above.
If Bitten in Des Moines, Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair
Iowa law protects victims from having to pay for injuries out of pocket from dog bites. If a dog bit you, the owner of the dog will be liable for your injuries and damages related to the bite. An exception, though, is if you trespassed or provoked the dog in some way when it bit you.
If you have questions about your legal rights or need help pursuing compensation for damages, contact the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair. Call 888-435-9886 or set up your consultation via our online contact form.
Should I get a lawyer after a car accident in Des Moines?
You have no legal obligation to hire an attorney when filing a car accident claim, however, those who suffered serious injuries and have a lot of expenses will likely benefit from a lawyer’s expertise. Iowa is an at-fault car insurance state.
This means that when an accident occurs, the insurance of the motorist who caused the accident is primarily responsible for paying for damages. A motorist may file a lawsuit if unable to recover fair damages in a liability claim against the at-fault driver.
A lot of Des Moines motorists wonder, "Should you get a lawyer after a car accident?" Below we go over some common issues that can help you decide whether to file a claim.
Do I need a lawyer for a car accident?
Individuals are welcome to file a claim and possibly a lawsuit on their own. They can also seek legal counsel and representation during the claims or lawsuit process. However, hiring an attorney can be advantageous, especially in certain cases.
How can an attorney help me?
While you don’t need to have an attorney on your side to file a claim for damages, you should know that most insurance companies have one goal in mind: making a profit. As such, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to skew details and twist facts in order to present you with a settlement amount that’s way below what you deserve.
Below are some of the benefits of hiring an attorney.
- An attorney knows insurance and personal injury law.
- An attorney can help gather evidence about the accident.
- An attorney can build a case to prove the other party's fault and liability.
- An attorney can negotiate a fair settlement amount.
- An attorney can handle all the legal paperwork.
- An attorney’s job is to advocate for you.
When dealing with large amounts of expenses following an accident and injury, leaving your compensation up to hope and chance probably isn’t a good idea. A lawyer can help you formulate a strategic approach centered on making sure you recover fair compensation.
Also, remember that you may file a lawsuit if you are unable to recover compensation in an insurance claim. Your attorney can be instrumental in helping you negotiate an out-of-court settlement and argue your case in court, if necessary.
What should I do after a Des Moines car accident?
If you suffered injuries in a car accident that you didn't cause, the first few things you should do are as follows.
- Report the accident to law enforcement
- Seek medical care
- Report the car accident to your insurance company and that of the at-fault driver (but don't give any statements)
- Call an attorney
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys will fight to help you recover damages. To get started, call our offices now at 888-435-9886 or use our online contact form. Also check out our guide to car accident claims.
What should you do if approached by an unfamiliar dog in Des Moines?
Most people are comfortable around the dogs they know, but many dog bites involve dogs with which the victims are familiar. Still, being approached by an unfamiliar dog can be scary; if it happens to you, you need to be prepared. Below are some dog safety tips and an overview of how to act around unfamiliar dogs.
If approached by an unfamiliar dog, the worst thing that you can do is make sudden movements, like running. Instead, holding still and staying calm is key to your safety. If you are calm enough, slowly and steadily back away from the dog. Make sure you don’t turn around, through; stay facing the dog at all times.
Use the Right Body Language
Many people who are approached by an unfamiliar dog will try to soothe the dog by smiling or trying to pet it. Both moves can be dangerous if the dog is aggressive, though. Never make eye contact, never try to reach out and touch the dog, and never smile – the dog may believe you are showing your teeth, which is a sign of aggression. Additionally, never use an aggressive or threatening tone when talking to the dog – if attempting to calm the dog down, use a soothing tone.
Know How to Respond if Bitten
Ideally, a dog would never bite you. But if an aggressive dog attacks, it’s important to know what to do. According to an article in CBS News published in June 2010, if bitten by a dog, never try to pull away from the dog or fight back by hitting or kicking – both actions will encourage the dog to attack harder. Instead, try to remain calm and put something in between you and the dog, like a purse or sweatshirt. If you are on the ground when attacked, roll your body into the fetal position and cover your head with your arms.
Get Medical Attention and Talk to a Lawyer if Bitten
If a dog bites you, seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, alert the dog’s owner and animal control as soon as possible. If your bite injuries are severe, seek legal counsel to discuss what legal action you may take to recover damages related to the bite.
In Iowa, the law protects dog bite victims by holding the owner of the dog liable in the majority of cases. If you’ve been bitten and you were not committing an illegal act at the time of bite, then the owner will be liable for your damages. Damages may include the cost of medical care (short- and long-term, if needed), lost wages while recovering, pain and suffering, and more. If you need help recovering damages, call the attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines.
Our attorneys understand the trauma – both physical and emotional – that victims might experience after dog attacks. We can help recover compensation for injuries, pain and suffering, and more, so call our offices today at 888-435-9886 or use our online contact form to set up your appointment.
How does workers' compensation and employer's liability work?
Every state including Iowa has laws in place to protect the rights of workers when they’ve been injured on the job. These laws require all employers to carry workers’ compensation policies, which pay for medical care and lost wages when an employee is hurt at work.
But some become confused about workers' compensation and employer's liability – i.e., must an employer be liable for an injury in order to recover compensation?
In workers’ compensation cases, there is a no-fault rule that eliminates the need to prove that your employer caused your work-related accident, injury or illness. If your condition is a direct result of your work duties or related to an incident that occurred while performing your job, you are entitled to recover benefits under workers' compensation laws.
Can I file a lawsuit if my employer was negligent?
Generally, no, you cannot file a lawsuit against an employer, even if the employer was negligent and caused your injuries. Workers' compensation not only protects workers by ensuring they have benefits available to them in the event of an injury, but also protects employers from liability in most cases.
The exception to this rule may be if the employer intentionally caused the injury. But this is rare and can be difficult to prove, so in most cases, you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer.
What if somebody else was negligent? Can I still get workers' comp?
Yes, if another party other than your employer or a co-worker caused your injury, you may recover workers' compensation benefits, provided that the injury occurred during the scope of your employment.
So if you were in a car accident on the way to work, this generally is not considered in the scope of your employment, and you would be unlikely to qualify for workers' compensation. You could pursue a liability claim against the other driver, though, if that driver caused your wreck, if you can prove liability.
But if you were in a car accident while running errands for your employer, then you may be entitled to workers' compensation whether you were at fault or not. And if the other party was liable for your accident, you may also be able to pursue a third-party liability claim in addition to workers' compensation benefits; but you'll have to prove the other party's liability. Review how these cases affect each other with your lawyer.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation coverage is designed to pay for medical bills related to your injury. This may include examinations, tests such as X-rays or MRIs, prescription medications, therapy services or follow-up visits. Workers’ compensation benefits also pay for reasonable mileage reimbursement for your traveling requirements to receive care.
You are also entitled to disability benefits. There are several types of disability benefits for which you may be eligible depending on the circumstances of your case, so consult a lawyer about the types and amount of damages you may recover.
Walker, Billingsley & Bair Can Help with Workers’ Compensation Cases
Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Des Moines is dedicated to helping workers obtain fair workers' compensation and settlements for work-related injuries or illnesses. We understand the laws surrounding workers’ compensation claims and we can help you navigate the complex claims process. Especially in cases where a partial or total disability is the result of the work-related accident or illness, it is essential that your rights are protected and that you receive the type of compensation to which you are entitled.
Call us today at 888-435-9886 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney.