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 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.

  • 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.

    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    • Dizziness
    • Confusion
    • Drowsiness
    • Malaise
    • 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.