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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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.
Can I still file a dog bite claim if I killed the dog during the attack?
In some instances of dog attacks, the victim attacked may kill the dog in self-defense. Killing a dog during a dog attack may leave the victim feeling badly for the dog in some cases, and also lead to legal questions about whether one could face criminal charges and how it affects their ability to recover compensation in a dog bite claim. If you’ve killed a dog in self-defense in Des Moines, here’s what you need to know about your legal rights.
Iowa Strict Liability Statute
When it comes to dog bite law in Iowa, the state has a strict liability statute. A strict liability statute means that in the case that a dog attacks another person, the owner of the dog is almost always liable. This law can be found in Iowa Code 351.28, which reads, “The owner of a dog shall be liable to an injured party for all damages done by the dog, when…the dog is acting or attempting to bite a person…” The exception to this law is in the case that the victim was doing an unlawful act, such as trespassing.
Iowa Self-Defense Laws for Dog Attacks
In most cases, killing a dog during a dog attack is justified if the action is in self-defense. According to Iowa Code Ann. Section 717B.2, a person is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor if he or she "intentionally injures, maims, disfigures, or destroys and animal owned by another person…" But this shall not apply if the "person is reasonably acting to protect a person from injury or death caused by an unconfined animal," which might be the case in a dog attack.
Do I have a personal injury case?
If you have killed a dog in self-defense, but sustained injuries before the death of the dog occurred, then you may still have a case for damages. The exception to this rule would be if, as noted above, you were committing an illegal action at the time of attack or if the dog had rabies and the dog owner was not aware of the dog's condition.
Assuming that you were not committing an illegal action, and the dog was not rabid, then the dog owner may be liable for injuries regardless of whether or not the dog was killed in self-defense.
Contact a Dog Bite Attorney if Injured in Des Moines
If you killed a dog in self-defense and are concerned about whether you can still recover damages that you suffered, get help from an attorney. The dog bite attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can walk you through your legal rights and help you exercise those rights to recover compensation. Call us today at 888-435-9886 to get started.
How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in Des Moines?
There is no specific amount of time it takes to settle car accident claims in Des Moines. How long it takes to settle a car accident claim depends upon numerous factors, which adds a lot of variability to timeframes. A simple, straightforward case with no injuries might settle in under a month, whereas a serious or highly contentious case might take a year or more.
Factors that Affect Settling a Car Accident Claim
There is no one-size-fits-all claim completion schedule; each has its own unique circumstances and potential speed bumps. Below are a few of the factors that can affect how long a claim might take.
- Seriousness of injuries: When there is a serious or catastrophic injury involved, claims can take much longer. The case will not settle until there is a clear picture of the extent of the injuries. Doctors need time to assess the overall expected impact the injury will have on the victim’s life.
- Fault is argued: In situations where fault and negligence are being argued, it may take some time for the parties to reach a settlement.
- Extensive damages: Claims that have a high value will take longer to settle. Insurers may try to argue their way out of having to pay large settlements by either trying to refute your injuries, minimize their severity, or apportion blame to you.
- Complexity: If there are multiple parties involved, or if there is also a third-party claim such as for a car manufacturer, the case can take longer than average..
Speeding along Your Claim
Much of the claims process is out of your hands, but there are several things you may be able to do to speed along the settlement. First and foremost: be diligent and timely. When your attorney asks you for information, provide it as soon as possible.
You can also do a lot of the footwork involved in a claim to assist your attorney. For instance, you can collect the police report, your medical records and bills, and any other required documents on your own and share them with your lawyer.
Making Ends Meet in the Interim
If you are injured and not able to return to work, it’s quite understandable to want to rush to settlement. Rushing and signing the first settlement that comes your way isn’t advisable, though, because you’ll often get far less than what your claim is actually worth.
To make ends meet while awaiting your claim to settle, you might talk to family or friends for a personal loan. You can use what resources you may have available such as savings, disability insurance, or public assistance. As a last ditch effort, you might consider personal injury lawsuit funding. You can speak to your lawyer about what that type of funding entails.
Get a Free Legal Consult with a Car Accident Lawyer in Des Moines
If you don’t have an attorney, you should know that having legal representation may benefit you as you work toward a settlement. Car accident victims who have lawyers get much larger settlements, with the added benefit of having a professional legal confidante throughout each step of the legal process.
For a free consultation with a car accident attorney in Des Moines, call Walker, Billingsley & Bair today at 888-435-9886.
How do I schedule/reschedule a workers compensation hearing?
You can schedule or reschedule a workers’ compensation hearing by following the procedures provided on the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) website. However, many workers feel intimidate by the process and fear they’ll make an error that could be costly for their case. An attorney can assist you with scheduling your hearing, as well as preparing you for the meeting, and helping you present the facts to the overseer.
Scheduling a Workers’ Compensation Hearing
The first step in scheduling a hearing is to look at the court calendar and determine which dates have openings. To check the calendar, you can visit the DWC’s hearing schedule page and select “Venue” in the left sidebar. After selecting blue arrow beside the appropriate venue, e.g., Des Moines, you can search in the third column for any dates that are highlighted in blue. These are dates that are available.
Once you’ve selected a couple of possible dates, you’ll need to make sure each party approves of the date(s) before requesting a hearing. You then email the DWC with your hearing request using the email address listed on the hearing schedule page.
When you request a hearing, you must include the following information in your email.
- The file number
- All parties' names
- Your preferred hearing dates and times
- The venue in which you want your case to be heard.
What You Can Expect at the Hearing
Your case will be heard by the workers' compensation commissioner, the head of the DWC. It’s the DWC’s job to administer, regulate, and enforce the workers’ compensation laws, and it’s the commissioner’s job to oversee disputes.
At the hearing, the commissioner is to remain unbiased, hear both sides of the case, and make a determination based on all the presented evidence.
Some of the evidence she can take into consideration when determining the outcome of your case include the following.
- New medical records
- Recent treatment results
- Your pain/injury journal
- New developments in your condition
- Records and notes from medical professionals
- Second opinions
Unfortunately, many workers’ comp claims are denied because of insufficient evidence. If you’re concerned with the outcome of your hearing, it’s wise to have a legal professional help you prepare for and present your case.
There is too much at stake to not have the support, counsel, and back-up you need at the hearing. Even the DWC states on its site, “Though not required, it is usually advisable to consider the need for legal representation when filing a contested-case proceeding.”
Rescheduling a Hearing
If you need to reschedule your hearing, you essentially go through the same procedure as mentioned above for initial scheduling. When you’ve selected a few possible dates and times and have cleared them with the other party, you’ll need to reschedule the hearing via phone.
You can call the DWC rescheduling number at (515) 281-6621 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Monday through Friday. If you have hired an attorney to assist you, he or she will likely handle any scheduling or rescheduling for you.
Get a FREE Consult with a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Des Moines
To discuss your case with a workers’ comp attorney in Des Moines, or to inquire about how an attorney can help you prepare for a hearing and improve your chances of a successful claim, contact our office, Walker, Billingsley & Bair. Contact us today for a free consultation at 515-440-2852.