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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  • When Should I Hire a Workers' Comp Attorney?

    when should I hire a workers comp attorney, stressed man head in handsFirst of all, you do not need to get a work comp lawyer for every Iowa work injury. Here are some examples of work injuries where you probably do not need to hire a lawyer:

    1. You are hurt but do not miss any work, your medical bills are paid and you make a full recovery; or

    2. You are hurt, miss a few weeks of work, your medical bills are paid, but make a full recovery and return to your same job

    There are definitely some cases in which you will want an experienced Iowa work comp lawyer helping you through the process, protecting your rights and obtaining the compensation you should receive and those include in no particular order:

    1. You sustain a serious work injury which requires surgery, time off work and you are left with permanent problems and/or permanent restrictions;

    2. You are hurt at work and you are fired by your employer;

    3. Your work injury results in permanent work restrictions that your employer is unable or unwilling to accommodate resulting in your losing your job;

    4. You are hurt while working because of the negligence of another person who does not work for the same employer that you do. For example, you are driving a company car when another driver runs a red light and slams into your vehicle. This is a case that will involve a personal injury claim, workers' compensation, and subrogation. It would be very difficult for you to navigate all the legal complexities of a case like this on your own. Also, without an attorney the insurance companies' basically just exchange money around you perhaps leaving you with very little, if any, compensation; or

    5. You sustain a permanent work injury and are given a functional impairment rating that you do not agree with. Anytime you wonder if your rights are being violated you should at least contact a work comp attorney to find out if you will need legal assistance or not. You can call our office at no cost or risk. We will answer your questions and help you decide what is best for you and your family. Call now 641-792-3595.

    When should I hire a work comp lawyer? This is a question we receive a lot. If the insurance company is paying your medical bills, providing you with good medical care, paying for your mileage and you generally are having no problems then you probably do not need to rush to hire an attorney. However, if it appears that you are going to end up with some permanent problems, they are delaying or denying your medical care or your checks are being sent late then it is probably time to contact an experienced work comp lawyer.

    How do you choose which lawyer is best for you?(find link) While there are many lawyers that advertise on TV trying to get as many cases as possible, our law firm is different. We only accept a limited number of cases because we like having a relationship with our clients. You will not be just another file on a desk at our office. We will treat you like we want to be treated when you join our family of clients. We will return your phone calls, respond to your emails, and keep you posted on your case. If you would like to see how we have treated some of our past clients go to www.OurClientsTalk.com.

    If you are not ready to call a lawyer yet, but would like additional information about Iowa's work comp laws, the Injured Workers Bills of Rights, and much, much more then request a copy of our Iowa Work Comp Book (*insert link*). We will send you the book and a bonus DVD at no cost or risk because we have seen too many injured workers ripped off by insurance adjustors who only care about corporate profits and getting you to settle your case for a low amount of money and give up your rights.


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  • Can the Insurance Company Close My Workers' Comp Claim?

    Can the Insurance Company Close My  Workers' Comp Claim?The short answer is no, not without you agreeing to a settlement, signing settlement paperwork, and having it submitted and approved by the workers' compensation agency. However, telling you they are closing your file is a common insurance adjustor technique to get you to either:

    1. Take a settlement for less than what you are owed under Iowa law; or

    2. Believe what the insurance adjuster is saying, do nothing and not receive what you may be owed.

    Attention: Please keep in mind that in Iowa like most states there are deadlines known as statutes of limitations for filing work comp. claims which can in effect close your file. In Iowa, the general statute of limitations is 2 years from your date of injury, but this can be extended if you are paid TTD (temporary total disability), TPD (temporary partial disability), and/or PPD (permanent partial disability benefits). We recommend that you always consult with a qualified Iowa workers comp attorney well before the 2 years expires or you risk receiving nothing for your work injuries.

    As you can tell, insurance adjustors use this technique along with many other techniques that you are probably not familiar with in order to pay you and other injured workers as little money as possible. Here are a few other common techniques designed to save the insurance company money as your costs:

    1. The insurance adjuster will send you a letter stating how much they have paid and how much they will pay for your functional rating.

    Yes, this looks like it may be the end of your case, but often it is not. For example, if you have been terminated, you are now making less money because of the work injury and/or you do not agree with the low functional impairment rating given to you by the company doctor then you may be entitled to significantly more compensation.

    2. The insurance adjuster will offer to pay out your functional impairment rating for a lump-sum (instead of weekly) in exchange for you signing some documents.

    These documents that the adjustor wants you to sign will be settlement documents closing your medical and closing your file. This means to you that there will be no more medical care for your work injuries and if something bad was to happen to your job, no additional compensation. While there are times where signing settlement documents and closing your file may be appropriate it is usually not a good idea especially if you have not at least consulted with an attorney first.

    3. The insurance adjustor will be abrasive with you perhaps even accusing you of getting hurt somewhere other than your job.

    This may end with the insurance adjustor sending you a denial letter. Just because they deny your case, does not mean that they are correct. If your claim is denied, then you really have no choice but to contact a work comp attorney or do nothing and receive nothing for your injuries.

    If you have a question or issue with an Iowa work comp. claim then you should consider calling an attorney for assistance. We offer injured workers a no-cost work injury consultation where we will answer your questions and tell you what we think the best thing is for you to do moving forward. Sometimes this may be that you have been paid all you are owed or other times it will be that we think we can get you additional compensation. However, if you don't call you will never know so give us a call at 641-792-3595.

    If you are not ready to speak with an attorney, but still have questions about your Iowa workers compensation claim, then you should request a copy of our latest Iowa Workers Compensation book that includes the Injured Workers Bill of Rights, a chapter on employment law matters like the FMLA, ADA, etc. and much more. We offer our book at no cost to you because we have seen far too many injured workers in Iowa make costly prevents mistakes. To request your copy to read in the comfort of your own hope click here. We will send you the book and a bonus DVD which will explain the work comp system in more detail and answer many of your questions in our Frequently Asked Questions Chapter. Request your copy now before you make a costly avoidable mistake.


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  • What if My Employer Did Not Report My Work Injury?

    What if my Emploter did not report my work injury deadline stop watch lawyerThis unfortunately is a common problem that injured workers in Iowa face and there are a couple of things to do. First, make sure that you have provided notice to your employer about your work injury. Under Iowa law, you have 90 days from when you knew or should have known that your condition was work-related to report the injury. However, it is best practice to report it immediately in writing. Sometimes, your employer will have an injury report for you to complete, but if not make sure you write down in a letter to your employer generally how you were injured, the date of injury, your injuries, and that you are requesting medical care. You can deliver this in person to the HR- human resources department, your supervisor, another management person, and/or by certified mail return receipt requested. You should keep a copy of this letter and document who, when, and where you delivered it to your employer.

    If you have reported the injury and your employer refuses to turn it into their workers' compensation insurance company and/or will not tell you who their insurance company is with then you may have to take things into your own hands. Iowa Workforce has a webpage where you can go to determine who the insurance company is for your employer: Click on the NCCI Employers' Workers' Compensation Coverage Verification Database. You will need to accept their conditions and then select Iowa, put in your date of injury, and type the name of your employer. You should use the name that is on your pay-checks or direct deposit as many companies use a different dba (doing business as) compared to the actual employer.

    Once you know who their insurance company is then you can search online for the insurance company and how to report a claim. Often, the insurance company will be a little surprised and your employer may be upset that you reported the work injury, but if you want to proceed with a workers compensation claim including medical care for your work injury and other potential benefits including temporary and permanent disability checks then this may be something you want to pursue.

    Another option would be to contact a qualified Iowa workers compensation attorney to assist you with this process and to make sure your rights are protected. We are willing to discuss your work injury at no cost or risk and will provide you with a 30-minute work injury review just call 641-792-3595.

    Reporting your work injury and proceeding with the claims process is just the beginning of the Iowa work comp process. There are many other things to consider such as:

    1. Do I have to go to the doctors that the insurance company wants me to?

    Generally, yes if you want them to pay for medical care and treatment. You are always free to seek treatment on your own, but the workers' compensation insurance company and your employer may simply ignore what your personal doctors say and rely upon what their doctors say. There is a limited exception to this rule for what is called alternative medical care which is a very detailed process in which the proper steps have to be taken or the care will not be switched. We cover this topic in much more detail in our book ((*hyperlink to https://www.iowainjured.com/reports/iowa-workers-compensation-an-insiders-guide-to-work-injuries-7-deadly-mistakes-to-avoid-if-you-a.cfm) we offer at no cost described further below.

    Also, if you are asked by the insurance adjuster to attend an 85.39 examination, if you refuse to go then your weekly benefits will likely be forfeited during the time period until you see the doctor for the 85.39 examination.

    2. Do I have the right to a 2nd opinion?

    You always have a right to a second opinion if you are the one who will be paying for it. If you want the insurance company to pay then you have to wait until you receive your functional impairment rating to have your 2nd opinion paid for by the insurance company. Then, if you were injured after July 1, 2017, chances are that the insurance company will only pay for the impairment rating portion of your second opinion which could leave you owing thousands of dollars. If you are handling your case on your own, make sure you have it in writing how much the insurance company will pay. Also, you should not just go to any doctor for your 2nd opinion. Your 2nd opinion evaluation is far too important to see the wrong doctor who could make your case worse. We have several Board Certified Occupational medicine physicians that we can recommend so you do not end up with a bad doctor for your 2nd opinion.

    3. Can my employer fire me while I am off work because of a work injury?

    Most likely, yes. Under Iowa law, you are an employee at will which means you can be fired for any reason or no reason whatsoever. If you have been fired and you are a union member then you should immediately contact your union steward so that you can file a grievance and try to get your job back. If you are not part of a union, then you may have a claim for additional workers' compensation benefits, an unemployment claim, and/or an employment law claim under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), etc. You will want to promptly contact an attorney who handles both workers' compensation and employment law matters. Our attorneys can assist you in navigating the somewhat complicated area involving termination after a work injury. We will talk to you at no cost or risk, answer your questions and give you our thoughts on your situation so Call Now 641-792-3595.

    For more detailed answers to the above questions and much more request a copy of our book “Iowa Workers’ Compensation- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includes 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work and the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights. We offer the book at no cost or risk to injured workers in Iowa because we have seen firsthand injured workers make costly mistakes before they knew about their rights and obligations. Finally, you can read about Iowa's workers' compensation laws in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. If you, a loved one, friend or co-worker have questions about an Iowa work comp claim feel free to give us a call at 641-792-3595. There is no cost or risk and everything you tell us will remain confidential.


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  • What Type of Neck Injuries are Common Work Injuries?

    Neck injuries happen at work for many reasons including a traumatic fall, overuse because the job requires you to look up or down most of the day, turning motions that can cause traumatic or cumulative injuries, getting struck from behind, etc. The most common types of injuries involve cervical strains (muscle and ligament damage), herniated discs, bulging discs, fractured vertebrates, and sometimes even paralysis.

    What type of treatment is required for a cervical strain?

    A cervical strain basically means that the muscles and/or ligaments in your neck have been stretched too far and damaged. Most commonly you will be prescribed physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. The majority of cervical strains will get better with time and often you will be able to return to normal activities within a few months. However, some cervical strain conditions become chronic which is defined as lasting 6 months or more. Often these are associated with muscle spasms, significant pain, loss of range of motion, and work restrictions. There are pain management doctors who can try to treat this with trigger point injections, physical therapy, radiofrequency denervation (destroying portions of the nerves causing pain), and other pain management procedures.  

    What type of treatment is required for herniated or bulging discs?

    Sometimes treatment similar to a cervical strain is initially prescribed like physical therapy and medications, but it depends upon the severity of your symptoms. If you have a disc injury that is causing pain, loss of use, numbness, or otherwise affecting one or both of your hands and arms, then your condition may be very serious. Without timely surgical treatment, you could be left with permanent spinal cord damage. So if you are having what is called radicular symptoms (pain radiating into an extremity from the spine) you need to immediately seek medical care. An MRI is used to determine the extent of the damage of your disc and if it is pushing against your spinal cord causing additional symptoms. If your symptoms are not severe then it is likely your doctors will recommend an ESI (epidural steroid injection). An ESI is when a doctor injects medications into the area where your bulging or herniated disc is located. The medication is designed to reduce the inflammation in the area in order to relieve your symptoms. Keep in mind that an ESI can cause your blood sugar to increase and they can cause other side effects.

    If your symptoms are more serious or if you have one or more ESI's that do not help, then your doctor may recommend surgery. The most common type of neck surgery is a cervical fusion where the doctor puts in a cage to stabilize the area where your disc is herniated to relieve pressure on the nerves coming out from the spinal cord. They may also take a bone from your hip or use a cadaver bone to help stabilize the area. The doctor will also remove parts of your herniated or bulging discs to prevent further problems. A cervical fusion is a big surgery that takes months to heal from, but sometimes it is your only option to relieve the pain and prevent getting even worse.

    What type of treatment is required for a fractured vertebrate?

    This once again depends upon your symptoms and the severity of the injury. If you have sustained a burst fracture in your neck, then you may be dealing with some spinal cord damage leading to partial or total paralysis. Some people sustain only small fractures in their cervical vertebrates which can be treated with a hard brace or sometimes a cervical fusion surgery much like discussed above.

    If you would like more information about work-related neck injuries, the compensation you should receive, and the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights request a copy of our latest Iowa Workers' Compensation.  (*Click Here*). We offer our book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen too many hard-working Iowans taken advantage of by insurance adjusters trying to maximize insurance company profits.

    Note: In no way is this article intended to be medical advice or opinions. You should consult with your medical professionals for medical care and treatment. The above represents what we have seen after having represented more than a 1,000 injured workers in Iowa over the past 22 plus years.


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  • Can a Heart Attack be Considered a Work Injury?

    Under Iowa law, if you meet the medical and legal requirements then yes, a heart attack can be considered a work injury.  In order to prove that your heart attack was work-related, you must prove both medical and legal causation in order to recover for a heart attack. 

    How do I prove medical causation? 

    The medical causation part is done obtaining reports and taking the depositions of the injured workers treating doctors and often independent medical examiners who review records and conduct a physical examination, if possible. These doctors can include your family physician, cardiologist, occupational medicine physician, and others. It is very important that you or your lawyer obtain the opinions of your treating medical providers as soon as possible. Often, insurance companies will immediately contact your doctors once you bring a claim. They may not tell your doctor all the facts and may even lie to your doctor in an attempt to obtain an opinion letter that your heart attack is not work-related. The opinions of your treating medical providers are very important in proving your heart attack work injury claim. Also, once your doctors put in writing their opinions it can be difficult to get them to, later on, change that opinion. We help our clients by promptly meeting with their doctors to get the opinions that we need to prove the medical causation part of their case.    

    How do I prove legal causation?

    The legal causation part is a bit trickier and there are 3 ways to prove it: 

    (1) When heavy exertions ordinarily required by work are superimposed on a defective heart, aggravating or accelerating the preexisting condition.

    (2) Instances of an unusually existing diseased condition.

    (3) When the damage resulted from continued exertions required by the employment after the onset of the heart attack (compelled to continue working). 

    Below are some factual examples of injured workers proving their heart attack was work-related:

    The claimant drove a truck and also unloaded equipment for a recreation equipment company. He died at work while at an equipment shop. Deputy Commissioner awarded death benefits. 

    Claimant's proof focused on the first legal causation test set forth in Sondag and Riley.  The Deputy Commissioner held that medical causation was established and that Claimant's exertion at work on the date of death was greater than the exertion he experienced in his non-employment life. Prentice v. Miracle Recreation Equip. Co., File No. 1232407 (Arb. Dec. 1/11/01). 

    An over-the-road truck driver sustained a heart attack and it was found to be compensable as he was required to finish his load despite having chest pain. P.D.S.I. and Travelers Ins. Co. v. Peterson, 685 N.W.2d 627 (Iowa 2004). 

    Below are other factual examples of injured workers who failed to prove their heart attack was work-related:

    Claimant was a bridge builder, suffered a heart attack after day's work, and later died. Deputy Commissioner denied benefits. Commissioner affirmed. Claimant pursued this heart attack case primarily under the first two legal causation tests in Sondag and Riley. The Commissioner held that Claimant was not involved in any heavy physical or unusually strenuous activity on the date of death, and his work activity was not heavy when compared to his common non-work activity. Danger v. Welden Bros., Inc., File No. 1255002 (Arb. Dec. 3/06/01) (affirmed by Commissioner on 3/28/03). 

    Claimant truck driver suffered a heart attack after parking his truck and later died. Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner held that Claimant was not compelled to continue driving and denied benefits.  Hart v. Allied Sys., Ltd., 2002 WL 1585596 (Iowa App. 2002).

    As you can see, these cases are very fact-specific and it is a rare case that the workers' compensation insurance company will voluntarily pay benefits for a heart attack claim. If you or a loved one have sustained a heart attack that you think is work-related then you should immediately seek legal help from a qualified Iowa work comp lawyer. There is a timeline as short at 90 days for you to provide written notification to your employer that you are pursuing a work injury claim for the heart attack. Also, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to prove that the heart attack as work-related.  If you have questions or concerns we offer you a no-cost, no-risk work injury review so call now 641-792-3595.

    If you are not yet ready to call a lawyer but would like some more information about Iowa's workers' compensation system, then request your copy of our book entitled called “Iowa Workers’ Compensation- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includesDeadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work."  We offer our Iowa work injury book at no cost because we have seen too many hard-working Iowans from Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Ft. Dodge, Newton, Pella, and throughout the state of Iowa hurt at work job make mistakes which cost them thousands of dollars. Iowans hurt at work are beginning to realize that the insurance company is not there to help them and that they should learn about Iowa's workers' compensation laws. Finally, there is a book about Iowa's work injuries that you can review in the comfort of your own home. 

    Should I apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI)?

    It depends upon your age, the severity of your injuries, if you have done a valid job search, etc. Overall, I would not recommend that you immediately file for SSDI for a number of reasons including:

                1.  In the eyes of some of our workers' compensation judges filing for SSDI too soon can significantly reduce the value of your case because it shows a lack of motivation. If you are released to return to work with restrictions, then you should do a valid job search before determining if you should file for SSDI or not. 

                2. The SSDI process can take several years in order to get a hearing before an administrative law judge.

                3. If you are under 55 years of age it is more difficult to obtain SSDI than if you are 55 years or older. 

    We help our clients navigate workers comp, employment law, unemployment law, and Social Security Disability in order to achieve the best outcome for them.


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  • How Long Can You Be Out On Workers Comp

    how long can you be out on workers comp walking cane

    Unlike some states, Iowa does not have a set limit for the amount of time that you can be off work receiving workers comp benefits while you recover from your work injuries. Some states have a 12, 18, or 24-month limit, but in Iowa so long as you are receiving medical care which is improving your condition and have not reached MMI (maximum medical improvement) you can receive weekly TTD (temporary total disability) benefits.

    Is my job protected while I am off receiving workers comp? Not necessarily.

    If you qualify for the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) then your employer can run your FMLA time (generally up to 12 weeks of leave) at the same time that you are off work due to a work injury. If you miss more than 12 weeks, then your employer may terminate you. There can be additional protections under other state and federal laws such as the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or through your union if you have one. For more information request a copy of our Iowa Workers' Compensation Book where we devote an entire chapter to Your Rights as an Employee Click Here. We offer our book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen far too many hard-working Iowans make a costly mistake. After all, they did not have the information they needed.

    How do I qualify for FMLA?

    To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer defined as an employer with 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks or more in the current or preceding calendar year. Also, the employee must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave. If you meet the requirements then your job should be protected for up to 12 weeks.

    What if I am fired after I complete medical care?

    If you are fired during or after your medical care for your workers' comp claim it is very important that you speak with a qualified work injury attorney who can help explain the process, protect your rights and seek the compensation that you should receive.

    Should I file for unemployment? If you have been fired and are no longer receiving TTD (temporary total disability) benefits then it is probably in your best interests to file for unemployment. Keep in mind that you cannot receive TTD and unemployment at the same time. Also, you have to be ready, willing, and able to do some type of work in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. Also, depending upon how long you were off work, you may not have enough work credits in your monetary records and be denied unemployment. However, if you have missed 3 or more quarters and received TTD during that timeframe then the unemployment office is supposed to skip those quarters and substitute then with the quarters prior to your work injury. If you are denied unemployment, you should promptly call a work comp attorney who can also help you with your unemployment matter. We offer a no-cost consultation and review of both your unemployment and work comp cases. There is no retainer or upfront fee that you have to pay for us to help you with your unemployment case if we are also representing you in your work comp. matter.

     

    Should I apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI)? It depends upon your age, the severity of your injuries, if you have done a valid job search, etc. Overall, I would not recommend that you immediately file for SSDI for a number of reasons including:

                1. In the eyes of some of our workers' compensation judges filing for SSDI too soon can significantly reduce the value of your case because it shows a lack of motivation. If you are released to return to work with restrictions, then you should do a valid job search before determining if you should file for SSDI or not.

                2. The SSDI process can take several years in order to get a hearing before an administrative law judge.

                3. If you are under 55 years of age it is more difficult to obtain SSDI than if you are 55 years or older.

    We help our clients navigate workers comp, employment law, unemployment law, and Social Security Disability in order to achieve the best outcome for them.


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  • When Do I Need A Car Accident Lawyer In Iowa?

    You do not need a lawyer for every Iowa car accident. For example, if your injuries are minor only requiring a few doctors' appointments and you make a full recovery with no scarring or you were not injured and only sustained property damage. You should consider handling your case on your own because frankly in smaller cases having a lawyer may not help you at all. After all, why would you want to pay a portion of your likely already small settlement to a lawyer?

    However, if you have had medical treatment such as physical therapy, surgery, pain management care, and other invasive medical procedures at the very least you should call an experienced Iowa car accident lawyer to find out how they may be able to help you with your case. Having an experienced car accident attorney looking out for your best interests, protecting your rights, and leading you through the process will not only relieve your stress but also will likely result in more money to you.

    For example, do you:

    -Know what the fair settlement value is for someone injured in a car accident with injuries like yours?

    -Know how much insurance coverage the other driver has and if it is not enough what assets may be available to pay for your injuries?

    -Know if you have other insurance coverage that may compensate you for your injuries should the other driver only have the state minimum of $20,000 per person for personal injuries.

    If you hire the right car accident attorney then once they have your medical records, the police reports, and other documentation they should be able to give you a range of what your case is worth.

    What else should an injury attorney do for you?

    1. Investigate the facts of your case including hiring a private investigator, if necessary, to interview witnesses, investigating officers, etc.

    2. Have all contact with the insurance adjusters on your behalf

    3. Request and obtain your medical records and bills

    4. Have all contact with the subrogation claims that will come in your case

    5. Handle contact with and deal with any collection companies and medical provider bills

    6. Explain the legal process and help you determine if you should file suit or try to settle first

    7. Give you a realistic value of your case once they have your medical records and know the facts in your case

    8. Provide you with copies of letters sent and periodic updates about what is going on with your case

    9. Much more explained in our Iowa Car Accident book.

    Note: Before you consider hiring any attorney you should look at what their past clients have to say about them on their webpage, at www.Avvo.com and/or on Google. Also, you should look at the results that they have achieved for prior clients which should be listed on their webpage. If you would like to watch what our prior clients have to say about our services Click Here. To review some of our results in car accident cases Click Here.

    We offer a car accident review to you at no cost or risk, just call 641-792-3595. We will answer your questions, tell you about how the system works and give you advice as to whether you need a lawyer in your case or not. If you are not yet ready to talk to an attorney, then we offer our book "The Legal Insider's Guide to Iowa Car Accidents: 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case" at no cost or risk. In the book we will explain in more detail about whether you need an attorney or not; what you should do in order to find the best car accident attorney for you and your case; explain what damages may be available to you in your case (pain and suffering, loss of full mind and body, loss of consortium, etc.); and much, much more. Finally, you can learn about Iowa car accident laws in the comfort of your own home so request your copy of our Iowa Car Accident book now.


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  • Do workers compensation benefits cover PTSD?

    Do workers compensation benefits cover PTSDThe short answer is yes, if you sustain PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following a physical work injury or traumatic event like a robbery at work then your condition should be covered. This sounds good but is not as good as it sounds because often your workers' comp insurance company will deny your PTSD claims for several reasons.

    Here are a few company insurance company tactics in dealing with PTSD:

    1. The insurance company, nurses, and their doctors will simply ignore the mental health issues which you are having including PTSD. You should bring up all of your problems you are having because of the work injury, but do not be surprised if the doctor says "I am only treating you for your (insert your injury, e.g. arm, shoulder, back, neck, leg, etc.). If this has happened to you, there are several ways that we can help you get the medical care and treatment that you need for your PTSD and may also be able to obtain additional financial compensation for you.

    2. You complain about mental health problems such as PTSD so the insurance company decides to send you to one of their bought and paid for mental health providers. There are a number of psychiatrists and psychologists in Iowa that will say whatever the insurance company wants them to for a price. These doctors have a proven track record for helping the insurance company at all costs. If the insurance adjustor wants to send you to a doctor in order to address your PTSD claims, you should find out if the doctor they want to send you to is legitimate or not. Depending upon your circumstances, it may be better for you to just seek treatment on your own instead of going to the insurance company doctor. If you are facing these issues, we can tell you what the doctor's track record is. Then we will help you decide what is best for your PTSD and your workers' comp case.

    3. The insurance company will ask that their treating authorized physician refer you to a reputable mental health provider. This is the least likely thing to happen in your case because it may cost the insurance company more money. I know, why wouldn't the insurance company want to help you so you get better and they likely end up paying less money in the long run? However, this is not how profit-driven insurance companies think. Often, they rather save the money now even though they are ignoring the human cost and may pay more later on. Note: If the doctor they send you to makes a specific referral to another doctor, then they should be responsible for paying for that care and treatment. If they refuse, then the alternative medical care procedure may be used to force the insurance company to pay for the mental health medical care that you need. There are very specific requirements that you must follow in order to have a chance at winning in an alternative medical care hearing. Chapter 4 of our Iowa Workers' Compensation book covers this topic in more detail.

     

    If you would like a copy of our new no cost Iowa Work Comp book which includes the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights and reveals 7 costly mistakes and how you can avoid them just click here to request the book. There is no cost or risk and you can finally learn about Iowa workers comp laws in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. We offer our Iowa workers comp book at no cost because we have seen far too many hardworking Iowans who following a work injury were suffering both physically and mentally who were treated badly by insurance companies because they did not know their rights or responsibilities.

     

    Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you think you may have PTSD or have been diagnosed with it:

    1. PTSD is a mental health anxiety disorder involving the over-activation of the flight or fight response.

    2. PTSD symptoms can develop quickly or slowly after a traumatic event in which your life was put in danger.

    3. Some signs and symptoms include: anxiety, grief, anger, feeling lonely, sleep issues, feeling out of control, etc. People with PTSD may feel disconnected from the world and lose their meaning and purpose in life.

    4. Many PTSD sufferers relive the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding people or places that bring back the memories of the trauma and/or constantly feeling on edge.

    5. PTSD is not a result of moral failure or weakness in character but is a real condition caused by biological and physiological mechanisms.

    6. Everyone is different some people who sustain the same trauma can have very different reactions from it including developing PTSD or not.

    7. People with PTSD have a greater risk of alcohol abuse and other mental health conditions like depression.

    8. You are not alone because an estimated 4% of men and 10% of women develop PTSD at some point in their lifetime which means approximately 8 million adults are dealing with PTSD in any given year.

    9. The good news is that there are many ways to treat PTSD including individual and/or group psychotherapies, medications, etc.

     

    If you or a loved one is having mental health issues following trauma the best thing you can do is to get help with a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. While PTSD may get better on its own with time, at the very minimum you should get it checked out so it does not get worse.

    Suffering from PTSD can be an isolating experience, but there are millions of other people dealing with similar problems and there are resources available to help you get your life back. If you do not have anyone else to turn to and are even considering hurting yourself, then please get help or at least call 800-273-8255 to speak with a trained person at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are not comfortable calling someone on the phone for more information go to https://www.mentalhelp.net/ptsd/hotline/.


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  • Can My Employer Make Me Come to Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic? (Iowa 2020 Update)

    Can My Employer Make Me Come to Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic (2020 Update)The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) created the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) which provided some temporary protections (they end December 31, 2020) to the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and the EPSLA (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act) which provides compensation for time off work because of the Coronavirus for specific situations. 

    Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)

    Who is eligible? If you have worked for an employer for at least the past 30 calendar days.

    What conditions allow me to not go to work under the EFMLEA? If you need to care for your child under 18 years of age if their school or daycare has been closed because of the public health emergency (in this case the Coronavirus).

    Which employers are required to comply? Unfortunately, as with many legislative bills it was not written very clearly and the DOL (Department of Labor) recently posted 80 pages of temporary regulations so it is not exactly clear which employers are required to comply with the EFMLEA. Generally, it appears that private employers with 500 or more employees based in the United States or its territories are not required to comply and have no obligations under the statute. Employers with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees are covered, but employers with fewer than 50 employees may or may not be required to comply with the longer EFMLEA provisions.

    How much will I be paid? Generally, the first 2 weeks are unpaid, but you are allowed to use your other paid leave. After the first two weeks, you can be paid for up to another 10 weeks at two-thirds of your average rate of pay over the past 6 months subject to a cap of $200 per day.

    What should I do? If you think that you are or may be eligible then you should provide in writing to your employer you name, dates of requested leave, the reason you will be gone, the name of your child/children that you need to care for, the name of the school, pre-school or place of care that has been closed and a statement that you have no other suitable person to care for your child/children.

    What will happen to my job when I come back? If your employer has 25 or more employees then you should be returned to your previous employment, unless your employer shows that the position no longer exists due to economic conditions caused by the health emergency, and your employer shows they have made reasonable efforts to restore you to an equivalent position.

    Also, please keep in mind that the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) normal rules still apply such that FMLA leave is still unpaid, limited to 12 weeks per company year, etc.

     

    EPSLA (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act)

    All employees are covered however health care providers and emergency responders defined below are excluded.

    Which occupations are excluded? If you are a health care provider or an emergency responder then your employer may exclude you from the EPSLA’s Paid Sick Leave requirements and/or the EFMLEA’s Expanded Family and Medical Leave requirements. The DOL regulations definitions of healthcare providers and emergency responders include not only physicians and nurses, but also employees at doctor’s offices, employees who manufacture medical products and lab workers.

    What conditions allow me to not go to work and be paid under the EPSLA?

                1. If you are subject to a quarantine or isolation order that is related to the Coronavirus/Covid-19

                2. If you have been advised by a health care provider that you need to self-quarantine because of a health condition that you have. For example, asthma, COPD, diabetes, etc.

                3. If you are caring for someone who is covered by the above (1) or (2).

                4. If you are having Covid-19 symptoms and seeking medical care and diagnosis.

                5. If you are caring for your child/children because their school, pre-school or daycare has been closed because of Covid-19.

                6. If you are experiencing any other "substantially similar condition" to one of the above as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

     

    How many days are you allowed to miss under EPSLA? If you are a full-time employee, then you will receive 80 hours of paid leave. If you are part-time then you will be paid the average hours over a two-week period.

    How much are you paid under the EPSLA? For the above reasons (1)-(3) you are paid your regular wage up to a maximum of $511 per day. If you miss work for reasons (4)-(6) then you are paid 2/3 of your regular rate of pay up to $200 per day.

    Can my employer make me find a replacement worker under the EPSLA? The law prohibits your employer to require you to find another employee to cover for you while you are off work. Further, your employer may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against you in any other manner for asserting your rights under the EPSLA.

    Keep in mind that these are brand new laws and regulations interpreting these laws are coming out often such that the above may not be accurate. If you have applied for one or both of the above and been denied benefits, terminated, or discriminated against then you should seek the advice and opinions of a qualified employment law attorney.


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  • I Was Fired Because I Spoke Out About Lack of Protection (PPE) and Got Sick Do I Have a Case?

    Fired because lack of protection Iowa is an employee at-will state like most states. There are some protections under employment laws like the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), violation of public policy, retaliatory discharge, collective bargaining agreements with unions, etc. However, the general rule is that your employer can fire you for any or no reason at all.

    However, you may have an employment law claim and if you can prove you were exposed to the Coronavirus- Covid 19 at work and became sick because of it then you may also have a valid worker's compensation claim.

    How Do I Prove I Was Exposed to Coronavirus- Covid 19 at Work?

    First of all, if you suspect that you have been exposed you should immediately notify your employer and fill out an injury report. If they do not have a written or online injury report for you to complete, then you should send them a detailed letter stating that you were exposed at work, the symptoms you are having and request medical care. Regardless, of how you notify your employer please keep copies of any and all documents reporting your injury. Injury reports sometimes seem to get lost by employers later on when they claim they were not notified of the injury. Iowa law provides up to 90 days from when you knew or should have known that a condition was work-related, but it is the best practice to report it in writing right away.

    What Happens After I Report My Coronavirus- Covid 19 Work Injury?

    They should promptly provide you with medical care, but it is common for your employer and/or their insurance company to investigate your claim before agreeing to pay you benefits or even send you to a doctor. If you need medical care during their investigation period then, by all means, use your health insurance and get help. If you have a serious illness, then waiting for medical care is the last thing that you want to do. If later on, the insurance company admits that your condition is work-related or a judge orders them to provide care and compensation, then who paid for your medical bills and reimbursement can be taken care of.  

    Can I Sue My Employer for Not Providing Me with PPE (personal protective equipment)?

    Under Iowa law you cannot sue your employer for negligence. However, there is a very limited claim for what is called gross negligence in which you have to prove that it was more likely than not that the actions or inactions of a co-employee would lead to your injuries. This is a very high standard and you have to sue your co-employee who oftentimes would be your supervisor, the safety supervisor, etc.

    To learn more about Iowa work injuries and how you may be compensated for a work-related Coronavirus- Covid 19 injury, request a copy of our new book, Iowa Workers' Compensation- An Insider's Guide to Work Injuries Click Here. We offer our book to you at no cost or risk because we have seen far too many hard-working Iowans make costly mistakes causing them to lose thousands of dollars and sometimes their entire case. If you need immediate assistance or have questions then please feel free to call us  at 641-792-3595 or Contact Us Here. We will take the time to listen to your story, give you advice and tell you if we think you need a lawyer or not. That's right, there are some work injury cases where it does not make sense to hire a lawyer.


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