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 do I get my employer to release video footage of my accident to use as evidence in my claim?
The way to get your employer to release video footage of your accident is fairly straightforward: you ask your attorney to file a formal discovery request with the employer. According to Iowa Code §85.27, the employer must release the footage upon request.
What the Law Says About Video Footage in the Workplace
In October of 2012, the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner made some huge decisions on the issue of the disclosure of surveillance materials. Previously, employers could make video footage available after a claimant gave his or her deposition. Not so anymore.
Iowa §85.27(2) is strikingly clear: “Any employee, employer or insurance carrier making or defending a claim for benefits agrees to the release of all information to which the employee, employer, or carrier has access concerning the employee's physical or mental condition relative to the claim and further waives any privilege for the release of the information.”
“All” information includes any surveillance videos the employer may have taken. If you think your accident was caught on video, make sure to bring this up to your attorney so he or she can request or subpoena it.
A Summary of the Legalities Surrounding Requesting Video
The Commissioner decided the following regarding videos in workers’ compensation cases:
- Employers are required to produce surveillance materials in response to discovery requests.
- Employers cannot withhold materials until after the worker’s deposition.
- Surveillance materials are to be produced upon request. If the employee makes a request under §85.27, the employer must produce the materials within 20 days after filing an answer.
- The employer has the right to ask the Commissioner for an order to prevent discovery and release of the video if it’s irrelevant.
Using Video and Other Resources to Prove Your Claim
If your accident was captured on video, it can serve as excellent evidence to prove your workers’ compensation claim. It’s still important to try to round up any other evidence you can that might support your case.
Some of the evidence that might be fruitful includes:
- your employment history (demonstrate your work ethic and previous employability);
- witness testimonies from co-workers;
- your medical records (to show a lack of preexisting conditions);
- expert testimonies from field experts such as accident recreation specialists;
- any Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations; and
- photos of workplace hazards.
Warning: It’s a Two-Way Street
Just as employees can use video to support their case, so can employers. They may use surveillance videos to discredit your claim. For instance, if the employer takes video of you walking to and from your car with relative ease, it could attempt to say you aren’t as injured as you’re claiming.
Unfortunately, a lot of such videos are taken out of context and somewhat bogus. In the example above, for instance, you could have been able to walk only after taking pain medication. These videos don’t always show the entire story.
If your injury is legitimate, losing your case because of misconstrued evidence would be a travesty. Your attorney will review all videos and represent the facts clearly to the courts so that your claim isn’t wrongly rejected.
Consulting a Workers’ Comp Attorney
The office of Walker, Billingsley & Bair, which serves Des Moines and surrounding areas, regularly handles workers’ comp cases, and our attorneys know how to compile necessary evidence to satisfy claims. Contact us at (888) 435-9886 today for a free consultation.
Who can be an expert witness in a workers’ compensation case?
An expert witness in a workers’ compensation case is a professional who possesses specialized knowledge of a subject that can enable the credible analysis of a piece of evidence or a relevant factor presented in the case. The type of expert utilized in a particular case is largely dependent on the circumstances of the case and evidence available.
Medical Testimony in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The outcome of a workers’ compensation claim may depend on the accurate analysis of complicated medical information. So an injured worker and his or her attorney could call upon an expert witness to testify.
The employer chooses the employee’s medical care, though employees can request an independent medical exam at the employer’s expense if they disagree with the employer-appointed doctor’s assessment of the injury and disability that it causes.
Employees can also speak to the employer and/or insurance company to request alternate care if they are unsatisfied with the employer-chosen physician’s care. If unsuccessful, employees can then appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
Any doctor who examines the patient may provide documentation or even testimony regarding the patient’s injuries, prognosis, and necessity of future treatment. These assessments by medical experts help determine the disability and impairment level assigned to the injured worker, which has a major impact on workers’ comp benefits.
Professionals Who May Provide Expert Testimony Regarding Causation
Workers’ compensation requires establishing that the worker’s injury or illness is work-related, meaning it was caused by exposures or accidents in the workplace. Even existing conditions could be covered if workplace conditions or events worsened the condition.
Scientific experts can carry out or suggest chemical tests to examine the toxicity level of substances used at the work site and establish that it:
- caused injury;
- aggravated an existing medical condition; and/or
- led to a chronic condition or a disease.
For instance, workers exposed to asbestos may consult an expert in the field who may provide testimony regarding causation of the worker’s medical condition given the level of exposure. Similarly, testimony by an auditory expert can help establish that noise levels in the workplace caused or contributed to the worker’s hearing problems.
Take Legal Action after a Workplace Injury
Workers are entitled to workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job, regardless of fault. Workers’ comp is generally the sole recourse against an employer in most cases, though workers who are injured because of a third party’s negligence may pursue compensation via a third-party claim. In this case, additional expert witnesses may be called upon to establish negligence.
This may be the case if machinery is the cause of the worker’s injuries. A technical expert familiar with the equipment may testify regarding a manufacturing or design defect, or the cause of a machine malfunction.
An attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can provide legal assistance to workplace accident victims in Des Moines and surrounding areas. We have a strong network of expert witnesses that could testify. Give us a call today at 641-792-3595 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Can I ask my coworkers to testify about my accident in a workers' compensation claim?
When someone has been injured at work and there is a dispute concerning the accident, coworkers can be asked to testify in a workers' compensation claim. There is a place on the First Report of Injury or Illness form where workers can list a witness to the event that caused injury. Of course, employees who provide statements may worry about retaliation from the employer. It's important they understand their rights.
Utilizing an Employee Statement in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
A coworker may refrain from testifying about a work accident because of the fear of:
- being fired;
- demotion; or
- being subject to some other form of retaliation.
But employees cannot get in trouble for sharing what they saw happen, especially where the safety of other workers is an issue.
How an Employee Statement May Help a Workers’ Compensation Claim
There can be different reasons for calling upon a coworker to provide a statement. One situation is when the employer and/or insurance carrier tries to argue the injuries weren’t work-related. If others saw what happened, they can support the employee’s claims that the injury was sustained while on the job.
For instance, a coworker might testify that he/she saw the individual fall off a ladder. Or the coworker may know of a hazard in the workplace that caused the person to become sick.
Another circumstance in which testimony from a coworker could be helpful is when there is a disagreement as to the extent and severity of an injury. For example, the treating physician may release the employee back to work before he/she is ready.
Let’s say the doctor indicates the individual suffered nothing more than a bump on the head. But coworkers saw the employee lose consciousness, which could indicate a more serious injury.
Additionally, coworkers may have access to information or documents that can be helpful in the case. One example is photographs, which may have been taken of the area in which the accident occurred. This could help substantiate what actually caused the accident.
Seeking Help from an Attorney When Facing a Workers’ Comp Hearing
The nature of a dispute in a workers’ compensation claim can vary from one person to the next. When it cannot be resolved it may necessitate a hearing, in which ample evidence will be required. To ensure that an injured worker assembles everything necessary to help prove his/her side of the situation, an attorney can help.
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we understand the many complex issues that can arise in these types of cases. We can help injured workers obtain a list of coworkers that might provide valuable testimony.
Finally, we can explain an injured worker’s rights and the responsibilities of an employer if an employee has been injured on the job. This includes steps that workers need to take if there are concerns of retaliation because a coworker has agreed to provide testimony. Call us at 641-792-3595 to set up a consultation.
Will I need evidence of my workplace accident injury or unsafe workplace conditions when filing a workers' compensation claim?
If in a workplace accident and filing a workers' compensation claim, some may meet obstacles in obtaining rightful benefits. For an employer to fill out an accurate injury report, you will need to provide evidence of the accident, including any unsafe workplace conditions. Workers' compensation lawyers in Des Moines, Iowa can help injured workers through the claims process.
Types of Workplace Accident Evidence for a Workers' Compensation Claim
When you suffer injury because of a workplace accident you may need to show evidence that the injury is workplace-related. You must go over what happened when filling out a First Report of Injury (FROI).
On this form there are areas to describe the nature of the injury, the parts of the body affected, the events that caused the injury, any objects or substances involved, activities engaged in when injured, as well as information of a witness to the accident.
To back up your claim that a workplace accident caused your injury, you may utilize various types of evidence such as:
- personal narrative;
- witness descriptions of the accident/injury;
- any defective products/equipment that contributed to the injury;
- photographs or video of the accident scene; and
- medical reports.
The personal narrative is your own account of what happened to cause your injury. This may be an explanation of the equipment you were working with and what happened to cause your injury, or an account of misconduct from another coworker that led to an accident.
Witness descriptions will come from your co-workers or others in the area. For example, say you were using a ladder to fix a sign in a grocery store aisle and the ladder collapsed. If any co-workers nearby saw the incident you should take note of their contact information and inform your supervisor.
If you were working with a piece of equipment or a product that became dangerous because of a defect or error you will want to ensure that it is not tampered with after the accident. Be sure to discuss protecting this piece of evidence with your workers' compensation lawyer in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photographs and video of the accident scene, your injuries, and the equipment involved in the accident can also serve as evidence. Lastly, the medical records for treatment of your injuries can be used to show the consequences of the workplace accident or unsafe workplace conditions.
Filing Your Workers' Compensation Claim
As soon as you are able to report your accident or injury to your employer, do so. Beginning in 2001, all workers' compensation claims are now submitted electronically to the Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation (IDWC).
When submitting your report you may also submit evidence of the accident or unsafe work conditions, as well as some basic information about the reason for the claim. The electronic form requires the time and date when the injury took place, as well as the last date you worked prior to the injury. Your employer will also need to note the location of the accident, whether it was on-site or off-site.
Avoid Unnecessary Delays by Working with Workers' Compensation Lawyers in Des Moines, Iowa
Without clear evidence of your accident or hazardous work conditions, as well as the legitimacy of your injury, your workers' compensation claim may be denied. Workers' compensation lawyers in Des Moines, Iowa at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can help injured workers pursuing a claim. Contact our office in Des Moines at (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch and discuss filing a claim for a workplace accident.
After an accident at work, can I file a workers’ compensation claim even if my co-worker is responsible for my injuries, not my employer?
In cases of an accident at work, workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit, meaning if the injured party is hurt at the workplace during the course of employment, he or she will be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Ankeny, Iowa work comp attorneys can help injured workers when filing a claim.
This rule applies whether it’s the fault of a coworker, a boss or the injured worker, or even if the injury is acquired over time by repeated motions or exposures.
The only exceptions to the no-fault rule occur when:
- the victim willfully intended to injure him or herself;
- the victim was intoxicated at the time of the accident; or
- the victim was participating in non-work-related activities.
In most cases, however, victims of workplace injuries will almost always be eligible for the benefits of workers’ comp.
Workers’ Compensation in Iowa
In the state of Iowa, most employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation coverage. That means, virtually most workers who become injured in an accident at work are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits when injured on the job.
Workers’ compensation benefits can cover:
- Health care expenses – These include charges for hospital care, doctor’s appointments, diagnostic tests, medication, and mileage to and from treatment.
- Disability – Victims can receive weekly payments of two-thirds their average wages while injured and unable to work.
- Death – When a workplace injury results in death, the deceased’s survivors can recover compensation, funeral funds and more.
- Rehabilitation – In times when a workplace injury has rendered a worker unable to return to his or her former job, a workers’ compensation claim may cover vocational rehabilitation to help him or her re-enter the workforce.
Need more information? Consult an Ankeny, Iowa Work Comp Attorney
Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated and confusing for victims. Anyone hurt on the job is encouraged to contact a local attorney to discuss his or her options. Victims may call an Ankeny, Iowa work comp attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair at 888-435-9886 to set up an appointment to go over an accident at work.
Will my workers’ compensation claim be damaged if I wait too long to file a workplace accident report?
Yes, a workers’ compensation claim could potentially be damaged if an employee waits too long to file a workplace accident report. In Iowa, the work accident report must be filed within 90 days. An Iowa workers’ compensation lawyer can help with the legal claims process.
Time Limitations Pertaining to a Workplace Accident
It is always a good idea to immediately report a workplace accident or injury. Even when it doesn’t appear to be a big deal, an employee could hurt his or her chances of receiving workers’ compensation benefits if injuries are discovered later.
The 90-day period begins on the date an employee knows of an injury, or should have known of it. The employer has a responsibility to fulfill time limits as well when it comes to reporting a claim.
As soon as the employee files a report, the employer has four days to inform the workers’ compensation commissioner of the injury. An Employer’s First Report of Injury must be filed when an injury results in at least three days missed work, or when it’s a permanent or fatal injury.
Information Contained in a Work Accident Report
It will be important to accurately and completely fill out the report. It should include as many details as can be recalled, such as what led up to the accident/injury, what the worker was doing at the time of the injury (lifting boxes, walking up a ladder), contributing factors and any other relevant information.
If there were any co-workers who saw what happened, their names should be included on the report. A copy of the report should be made in case it gets lost or someone tampers with it.
Despite availability of workers’ comp benefits, some claims are denied. Employees in or around Ankeny who feel their case isn’t being handled fairly might consider contacting an Iowa workers’ compensation lawyer at Walker, Billingsley & Bair for legal help with a workers’ compensation claim.
For medical help after a work injury, can I see my own doctor even though the insurance company requires I see theirs?
When seeking medical help after a work injury, you will generally see a doctor that your employer or its insurance company chooses. If you have a dispute concerning the care you are receiving, you may wish to consult with an attorney in Oskaloosa, who can go over Iowa workers' comp laws and the options they may provide you.
Receiving Medical Help after a Work Injury
According to workers' comp laws in Iowa, the employer has the right to choose the medical care you receive. If you are not satisfied with the care or you have concerns with the treatment being recommended, you should discuss this with your employer.
Only in certain circumstances will an employee be allowed to request alternative care. Even then, your employer or the insurance carrier may deny your request. In this case you would have to appeal the decision to the workers' compensation commissioner.
According to Iowa workers' comp laws, if you receive an impairment rating that you believe is too low, then you have the right to see another doctor. This will be at the employer’s expense, but it will also be of his or her choosing.
Contacting a Workers' Compensation Lawyer in Iowa
It can feel like your choices for medical care are significantly limited when you are filing a claim for workers' compensation. If you believe you are not being provided proper care, seek legal advice from a workers' comp lawyer at Walker, Billingsley & Bair. We will explain your rights and the options you may have available when seeking medical help after a work injury (888) 435-9886.
What is light duty status in regards to Des Moines Workers' Compensation?
Consulting a work injury lawyer in Des Moines is a good way to learn all about the Workers' Compensation process and your rights under these laws as an injured worker. Light duty status refers to assuming duties that accommodate an injury or disability sustained at work if you are unable to perform your former duties, and light duty is available.
After you have been injured at work, Workers' Compensation law dictates that you should be granted a “healing period” in which to recover from your injuries while receiving continued pay and medical treatment. Once you are no longer completely incapacitated, you may be able to return to work.
However, a lingering injury or disability could make it impossible for you to perform your old job. At this point, your employer should offer you a different or modified job to accommodate your injury if such a job exists; this different or modified job is known as “light duty.”
If this option is not presented to you and you feel that it should be, contact an experienced work injury attorney in Des Moines. The attorney will make sure your employer treats you fairly and that you're awarded compensation when not treated fairly.
Should I have light duty status?
Some employers are not overly fond of workers claiming the need to work less often or less strenuously. But whether you should be on light duty when you return to work must be determined by your doctor. Any restrictions of your working capacity should be put in writing and signed by the physician. If the light duty job pays less than your old job, the difference should be made up through your Workers' Comp benefits.
The attorneys atWalker, Billingsley & Bair are prepared to get you the compensation you deserve and the accommodation you need for as long as you may need it. Call us today for a free consultation with a Workers' Comp attorney: 1-888-435-9886.
Does Ames, Iowa follow OSHA standards?
The purpose of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is to ensure workplaces are safe for employees by creating and enforcing safety standards nationwide. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation when your work site has violated a safety standard. To learn more, consult with an Ames work injury lawyer.
The Iowa State Plan
Yes, Iowa follows federal safety standards – although this state is among several others that operates its own program. Approved in 1973, the Iowa State Plan is monitored by OSHA to ensure workplace safety standards are “at least as effective as” the federal rules. Oftentimes, safety standards are identical to their federal counterparts. It is up to the state to set and monitor safety standards, as well as conduct inspections and investigations.
The Iowa State Plan covers all public and private workplaces, except:
- maritime activities;
- federally owned military facilities;
- bridge construction;
- federal employers and employees; and
- the United States Postal Service.
These exceptions are covered by the federal OSHA program. Other workplaces, such as field sanitation and temporary labor camps, are under the purview of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration. To contact the Iowa Division of Labor Services, call 515-242-5870. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, additional information can be found on their website.
Contacting an Ames Work Injury Lawyer for Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim
For help determining if you have a viable workers’ compensation claim, the law firm of Walker, Billingsley, and Bair can help. We will guide you through the process and assist with filing all the proper paperwork in a timely fashion. If your claim is denied, our attorneys have ample experience with the legal complexities involved and will advocate on your behalf. For a free copy of An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries: 7 Deadly Mistakes, contact us today at 888-435-9886.
Where should my Newton truck accident injury claim be filed?
When you're involved in a truck accident injury claim, it's a little more complicated than your average accident. Truckers are often driving out-of-state, which means that it can be hard to determine where you should be filing your accident claim. It's helpful if you can talk to a Newton truck accident lawyer and see what their opinion on the topic is.
There are a few different options to choose from and your decision will directly impact your case and how it is taken care of.
You can choose to file your truck accident injury claim in the state of:
- the accident location;
- the headquarters of the trucking company; and
- regular business operations for the trucking company.
They will be able to determine whether Iowa is the right place to file your claim and how to get the best outcome. The circumstances of your case are going to affect the best decision, which is why having a lawyer on your side can help you learn more about your options and file in the right place.
A lot of people don't realize that filing a truck accident injury claim can be done in a state outside of where the accident occurred. There are some instances where this is a better option, and that's why it is important to get the facts before you file. With a Newton truck accident lawyer, it will be easy to learn what you need to know. Contact us today to see how we can help with your injury claim at 888-435-9886.