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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How is my medical care handled in the workman compensation system in Iowa?
If you have been injured in a work-related accident in Iowa, you may choose to file an Iowa Workers' Compensation claim. In an Iowa Workers' Compensation claim, you may be compensated for your medical expenses. However, subject to a few exceptions you will not be permitted to choose your doctors and other medical providers.
Iowa is an employer choice state which means that your employer or their insurance company will generally direct the medical care and treatment. This means that they will usually choose your doctors and other medical providers, sometimes called the company doctor. The relationship between you and the medical providers is very important and we provide tips on dealing with medical providers in our workers' compensation book that we offer at no cost.
If you are denied alternate medical care by your employer and their insurance company, then there is a procedure available to request that the care is ordered by the Workers' Compensation Commissioner. However, there are certain steps that must be followed prior to filing a petition for alternative medical care and you should consult with a qualified Iowa workers' compensation attorney.
If you have been injured in an Iowa work accident, you may be eligible for compensation. In an Iowa Workers' Compensation claim, the available benefits are medical care and treatment usually chosen by your employer or their health insurance company, compensation for time you miss from work healing from your work injuries and compensation for permanent disability which if your injury is an industrial injury (back, neck, shoulder, brain, RSD/CRPS, etc.) then this is based upon your loss of earning capacity.
Contacting a Des Moines Workers' Compensation Lawyer
An injury in the workplace can have devastating consequences. The Des Moines Workers' Compensation lawyer team at Walker, Billingsley & Bair work hard to level the field between injured Iowans and insurance companies. To learn more about what our legal team will do to help you protect your Iowa injury claim, contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair to schedule a no-cost consultation - (888) 435-9886.
Can My Employer Force Me to Return to Work after Surgery Caused by a Work Injury?
The answer to this question depends upon several things including what restrictions your surgeon has given you. If the treating authorized surgeon says you are not able to work, then "no" you should not be forced to return to work and instead should receive weekly workers' compensation benefits so long as the insurance company has admitted that your work injury is related to your work activities.
If your doctor says to return to work with restrictions, let's say you have light duty work restrictions which include lifting up to 25 pounds, then "yes", you should contact your employer and provide them with a copy of your work restrictions. You should also make it clear that you are ready, willing and able to work within the restrictions provided. If you employer offers you work, then you need to at least try to do the job. You should keep a copy of your work restrictions in your pocket and if you are asked to work outside of those restrictions you should show your employer written proof about what you can and cannot do. If you have difficulties doing your work even within your restrictions, then you should notify your employer and also contact your surgeon to notify him/her of the problems you are having with your work. Often times, this will result in you talking to the doctor's nurse, but if you are not satisfied you should ask to schedule an appointment with the doctor. Your doctor can change your restrictions if you are having issues working within them.
If your employer does not offer you work, then you or your work injury attorney should contact the insurance company to notify them that you should be receiving weekly TTD- temporary total disability benefits as the employer does not have work within your restrictions.
If your employer offers you work and you decide to not at least try to do the work offered then chances are that bad things will happen such as:
1. You will probably not receive weekly workers' compensation benefits;
2. You may end up being fired from your job;
3. You may be denied unemployment because you refused to accept suitable work; and/or
4. The value of your workers comp case may be dramatically reduced for failing to accept the work offered. Regardless of what is true, if you do not accept work within your restrictions, your employer will always argue that regardless of what your permanent restrictions end up being that they would have accommodated them.
As you can see "no" you cannot be forced to return to work, but there are consequences given the facts in the case which could result in your having no income, being denied unemployment and ultimately damaging the value of your case. Return to employment with restrictions is a very important part of your case and if you have questions or concerns feel free to contact one of our Iowa workers compensation attorneys at (641) 792-3595. Also, if you do not already have our book about Iowa work injuries that we offer at no cost, you should request a copy as it explains return to work and other issues in more detail.
How much space must drivers give cyclists under Iowa law?
There is no specific amount of distance that Iowa law requires drivers to give cyclists; instead, the law reads that vehicles must pass bicyclists at a “safe distance.” While this distance may be a bit arbitrary, other states say that a safe passing distance is three feet and is a good standard to apply.
In Iowa, bicycle and traffic laws help to maintain a safe relationship between drivers and cyclists. But when drivers infringe upon these laws, accidents can result.
When Drivers Fail to Follow the Safe Distance Law
When drivers fail to pass or ride next to a cyclist at a safe distance, the motorist is in violation of the law. Not only has a legal violation occurred (resulting in a traffic citation), but the cyclist may be in danger, too.
Driving too close to a cyclist can cause many terrible consequences.
- The cyclist being struck by the driver
- Forcing the biker into traffic
- Running a pedalcyclist off the road
Who’s liable for an accident caused by an unsafe distance?
When driving too closely to a cyclist who is riding safely around traffic results in an accident, the driver may be held accountable for damages.
Ways to prove that a driver was driving at an unsafe distance—and that this, in fact, caused the accident—include the following.
- Witness testimony
- Video footage
- Police reports
- Testimony of parties involved
- Physical evidence
The types of evidence listed above are crucial if filing an accident claim for a bike crash. If the fault of the driver in question can be proven, then the cyclist will be able to recover damages for all monetary losses, and may also be eligible for noneconomic damage recovery, too.
Do I need a bicycle accident attorney?
When riding around Des Moines or Newtown and seeing negligent drivers and wondering things like 'how much space must drivers give cyclists,' know that Walker, Billingsley & Bair is here to help you.
Being a cyclist can be a nerve-wracking experience at times. When aggressive or distracted drivers get too close, and accident can happen that results in serious injuries. If you’ve been in an accident caused by an unsafe driver, let a bicycle accident attorney help you.
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our bicycle accident team is dedicated to your needs as a bike accident victim. For assistance in learning about your rights and filing a claim for damages read our bicycle/pedestrian accident library.
Will I be affected by the dog’s breed when filing my claim?
There are two theories of liability for pursuing damages for a dog bite in Iowa: first, the theory of strict liability, second, a negligence-based theory of responsibility. The following takes a look at both, specifically in regard to how a dog’s breed may affect a dog bite claim.
Iowa’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws
Iowa primarily imposes a strict liability dog bite law, found under Iowa Code 351.28, which reads that, “the owner of a dog shall be liable to an injured party for all damages done by the dog…” Under this law, the owner of a dog is always held responsible for injuries caused by a dog bite, regardless of dog breed or history of dangerous behavior (the exception to this is if the dog bite victim was doing something illegal at the time of dog attack).
Iowa’s Negligence-based Liability
Under the theory of strict liability, a dog owner is only liable for medical expenses specifically related to the injury. However, a dog bite victim does have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner if they can prove negligence. One example of neglect is failing to restrain a dog that has a known history of aggression or violence. On the same hand, a victim could also argue that it was negligent to harbor a dog declared dangerous or vicious.
While there is no particular state law, multiple cities throughout Iowa have banned, restricted, or labeled as dangerous or vicious certain dog breed types. In Des Moines, for example, Pit Bulls are automatically considered to be vicious; in Sioux City, Pit Bulls are banned entirely. There are special rules and requirements for vicious dogs.
In Cherokee, there is a restriction placed on the following dangerous dog breeds.
- Pit Bulls
- Doberman pinschers
As such, if a person is harboring a dog that is illegal, restricted, or dangerous/vicious, and if this dog bites you, then you may be able to prove negligence in a civil suit. In a negligence-based liability case, damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are all recoverable.
Learn More about Liability from a Dog Bite Attorney
To learn more about responsibility and how negligence and dog breed plays a role in your dog bite claim, call an attorney. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys can help you learn more about different city ordinances regarding breed restrictions, and the process of recovering damages. Set up your free case consultation today by calling (888) 435-9886 now.
Should I hire an attorney for bicycle accident?
Without an attorney for bicycle accident, you may run into trouble getting your full compensation amount or proving that you weren’t at fault. After a bicycle accident in Iowa, here are three reasons why you should speak to an attorney.
Iowa’s Comparative Negligence Laws
One of the main reasons that you should hire an attorney after a bicycle accident is Iowa’s comparative negligence law. This law allows for your damages amount to be reduced by your proportion of fault. In other words, if you were 10 percent at fault for your bike accident, your compensation payout will be reduced by 10 percent.
If you’re filing a claim, you can bet that the defendant/insurance company will focus on any errors you made, hoping to pay you less than you deserve.
Negotiating a Settlement Amount
Not only can an attorney help you to demonstrate that your injuries were incurred because of the fault of the other party but an attorney can also guide you through settlement negotiations.
Believe it or not, an insurance company is rarely on your side; it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to try pay you less than you’re entitled. To ensure that you’re getting your full payout amount, make sure you have a legal advocate.
You May Want to File a Lawsuit
Sometimes, settlements don’t work out as they should. Or, injuries are so severe that filing a claim with the insurance company alone isn’t enough. When either of the above are the case, you may want to file a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit requires the following.
- Knowledge of state and federal law
- Completed within the state’s statute of limitations
- Time and perseverance in the face of adversity
Take Action to Find Representation Today
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our attorneys are ready to get to work on your claim today. We want to help you complete the necessary steps
- Proving the fault of the other party
- Filing a lawsuit
- Acting as your support system
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.
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.