Accidents and Brain Injuries - When to Call a Personal Injury Law Firm

According the CDC, traumatic brain injury is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, but often can be the last injury diagnosed when someone has been in an accident because of other, more obvious physical injuries.

But the statistics about brain injuries are staggering:

Iowa personal injury lawyer personal injury law firm personal injury claims
  1. There are nearly 3 million hospital visits and deaths in the US each year;

  2. Nearly 330,000 children are treated for brain injuries each year; and

  3. Car accidents are the third leading cause of brain injuries in the US.

Because car accidents are a major cause of brain injuries, in fact car accidents are the leading cause of brain injury in people age 15-44, many people who have suffered a brain injury have a personal injury claim. Oftentimes, a brain injury is not immediately obvious, and a brain injury can occur from a sudden jolt to the head or body even if you didn’t strike your head. The Mayo Clinic lists physical symptoms as including headaches, dizziness, sleep problems and difficulty with speech. Mental symptoms include memory and concentration problems, changes in mood and feeling depressed or anxious.

As a personal injury law firm, we have represented numerous victims of head injury, and their families often describe them as completely changed people.

Personal injury claims for persons with a brain injury require different types of evidence than claims where the injury is easy to see on an x-ray. It’s often necessary to obtain expert opinions from multiple physicians and psychiatrists specializing in brain injury. Equally important are getting as many witnesses as possible who have observed changes in the person because of the brain injury.

Oftentimes, insurance companies do not place a high enough value on what has been taken from someone who has suffered a brain injury. An experienced personal injury law firm can help gather the necessary evidence to help a jury understand just how devastating this injury is.

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury through the fault of another and you would like more information about your options, please call our office at (319) 826-2250.

The above information is meant to be helpful but does not replace advice you may receive from an attorney you have an attorney-client relationship with.

What to Know about Defective Children’s Toys and Liability

toys

If your child was harmed by a defective children's toy, the manufacturer, inventor or distributor of that toy may be held legally liable. We see child injury claims where a child unknowingly used a defective toy and was hurt in the process. These cases range in severity. If your child has been seriously injured and you believe it was because of a defective children’s toy, you should contact a child injury attorney. You can reach our office at (319) 826-2250.

What is Defective?

A defective toy is one that can cause harm to a child playing with it because of something wrong with the toy. Children can not be expected to know how to play with a toy in a certain way as to avoid danger. Children are naturally curious and may explore a toy in ways that it may not have been intended. Toys should be created in such a way that even through curiosity and rough play, children are not harmed.

Defective Examples

There are many ways that a toy could be defective. Anything with small parts such as a battery or small pieces that could break off or that are too easily accessible to a child and could be defective. A toy with a string or cord that could cause strangulation may be defective.  Many toys manufactured outside the United States may contain lead paint that is dangerous to children if they put the toy in their mouth. The list of possibilities is endless, but any toy that seriously harms a child could be an example of a defective toy.

Factoring In Age

Children's ability to interact safely with a toy, and with the world around them, grows as they do. Products marketed to and for quite young children should be safe for that age range. Products that inherently may have a dangerous feature such as a cord or sharp pieces should be marketed to and clearly labeled for an older and appropriately aged child. The potential hazards should also be clearly labeled on the product packaging.

How Long Do I Have To Make a Case?

The statutes for making child injury claims in the case of defective toys is dependent on the state, but may be broad. The defective toy does not necessarily have to be one that was new or recently made. Furthermore, if your child is still a minor (or in some cases under 21), you may still have a case, even if the injury occurred years ago. A child injury attorney should be able to give you specific answers about the statute of limitations for your child injury claim.

Who is Liable?

The toy manufacturer or designer may be liable for an injury caused by a defective toy.  While a toy creator or seller may not maliciously nor purposefully sell a product that is harmful to children, he is still responsible for ensuring that the toy is safe for those children it was intended for.


Play is a critical part of a child’s development. The toys he or she interacts with should nurture and aid in healthy growth. If your child has been harmed or injured by a defective toy, please contact us at (319) 826-2250.

The above information is meant to be helpful, but is not meant to replace the legal advice of an attorney with whom you have an attorney-client relationship.


My Rights as a Tenant to a Safe Home


tenant rights

As a tenant, your rights to a safe home are determined by the laws in your state that set out the  landlord’s responsibility to provide a livable home. Iowa has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant act, which generally provides that your landlord is responsible for providing a home that is generally safe and within the housing code guidelines of your city or county.

If your landlord has failed to provide you with a safe and habitable home, the landlord may be held liable.

Personal Injury Claims on a Property

We see cases of personal injury claims from accidents that happened around a home or rented property. Slips and falls are among the most common personal injury claims we see in these cases. When a landlord is negligent in maintaining a safe environment around the home, including stairways, he or she may be responsible for any injuries that occur as a result. When a tenant is injured because of such negligence, a landlord may be found liable for not maintaining that area properly or reasonably.

We also see a lot of lead poisoning cases, in which the landlord either failed to disclose his or her knowledge of lead on the property or failed to have it removed in accordance with local housing codes. In these cases, when a child or adult is injured due to exposure to lead, we seek to find out whether the landlord can be held liable for not maintaining a safe home. Most landlords know about the dangers of lead paint and know what lead paint looks like, even if they have not had their property tested for lead paint.

Within the Home

Many personal injury claims relate to a tenant’s safety in common areas, such as the walkway to the house or structural components of the property. This may include items within the home. However, a tenant’s rights to a safe home may include the appliances provided by the landlord. This could be determined in the rental agreement signed by the landlord and tenant. An Iowa personal injury lawyer should be able to tell you about your landlord’s duties and if the landlord neglected those duties.

When the Landlord is Liable

A landlord has the same obligations as any property owner – to keep their property safe – but also has additional obligations set in the Iowa Code. Some of the landlords duties can be found here.

It is up to the tenant, and his or her lawyer, to prove that the landlord was negligent or violated the Iowa Code. We work for our clients in personal injury claims to uncover that information.


Your rights as a tenant include a safe home. If you or someone you love has been injured as the tenant of a property, you should speak with an Iowa personal injury lawyer. Feel free to contact our office at (319) 826-2250.

The above information is meant to be helpful, but is not meant to replace the legal advice of an attorney with whom you have an attorney-client relationship.


Injuries on Someone’s Property and Who is Liable

personal injury claims

Accidents happen – including at a residential property or a place of business. Sometimes the personal injuries suffered as a result of these accidents can have lasting effects on the lives of those involved. And the expenses can add up quickly when you consider medical bills, time off of work, and other impacts to one’s quality of life. Personal injury claims provide just compensation for the injured when someone else is at fault for the dangerous condition that caused the injury.

Slip and Fall

One of the most common personal injury claims involves slip and fall accidents. These are cases where someone has fallen and been injured because of a dangerous condition at the property. It could be a broken stairway, improperly installed flooring, an uneven sidewalk, or ice or snow that has built up on a walkway. These types of hazards are especially dangerous for the elderly and physically disabled. There are specific laws that require that commercial property owners make their properties safe for the elderly and disabled.

Dog Bites

While dog bites are most common with children, they can happen to anyone. Dog bites and attacks can cause serious harm, both physically and emotionally, and can leave lasting scars. In Iowa, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused when their dog bites or attacks someone, as long as the injured person was not committing an unlawful act at the time of the attack. This is true regardless of whether the dog has previously bitten anyone.

Unsafe Environment

Any number of accidents or injuries could occur at a residential property where there are dangerous features or environments. In older homes, children could be exposed to a toxin, such as lead paint, and may have a claim against the property owner In other scenarios, improperly installed windows or screens, patios or porches with broken railings, or loose fixtures on ceilings can cause serious injuries. Owners are responsible to keep up with repairs to minimize another’s risk of injury.

When the Owner Is Liable

In general, a property owner can be held liable for personal injury claims if their negligence was a cause of the claim. It is a common misconception that property owners are responsible for all injuries that occur on their property. However, injured people can only successfully bring personal injury claims if the property owner somehow is to blame for the injury.  

If You’re Renting

Landlords who are renting their property to residents have a responsibility to maintain that home to a safe, livable standard. By neglecting to make structural updates or repairs, the landlord may be liable for injuries that occur while the occupant is living in the home. If your landlord is not taking steps to keep your home safe, consider speaking with us. We may be able to help you pursue legal action. Iowa has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which provides renters with a number of rights.

Personal injury claims seek fair monetary compensation for damages incurred, in an effort to improve the life of the person injured. We support our personal injury clients through these complicated and difficult times to help them recover and return to their best quality of life.

If you need a lawyer to represent you in a personal injury claim, please call us for a free consultation at (319) 826-2250 or fill out our contact form.

 

What Are the Types of Damages Available in Personal Injury Claims?

personal injury claims

Whether you have been injured in a car accident, because of a defective product or as a result of a dangerous condition, the damages available in Iowa for personal injury claims are generally the same. The following damages are generally available to someone who has suffered a personal injury because of the fault of another:

1)    Past Medical Expenses: You are entitled to recover the cost of any medical care you needed as a result of your personal injury from the wrongdoer from the date of the injury through the time of trial. If you have health insurance, your health insurance usually will pay your medical expenses as they are incurred, but they are entitled to reimbursement if you make a recovery from the wrongdoer.  

2)    Future Medical Expenses: You are also entitled to recover future medical expenses that you likely will incur in the future as a result of your personal injury. It often is necessary to obtain opinions from physicians and economists in order to determine the amount of future medical expenses you are entitled to recover in your personal injury claim.

3)    Past Lost Wages: You are entitled to recover wages you lost because you missed work due to your injury or in order to receive medical treatment.

4)    Future Loss of Earning Capacity: This element of damage is the decrease in your earning potential as a result of your personal injury. Sometimes it is helpful to have an evaluation performed by a vocational specialist in order to determine your loss of earning capacity.

5)    Past and Future Pain, Suffering and Loss of Enjoyment of Life: These damages are meant to compensate an injured person for both physical and mental pain. These damages are often the most crucial to a person who has suffered a permanent, disabling injury, but they can often be difficult for the jury to calculate.

6)    Past and Future Loss of Function of the Mind and Body: These damages are also crucial for someone who has suffered a permanent, disabling injury. These damages compensate the injured person for loss of the ability to use their body the way they could before the injury. Examples include if a person can no longer walk because of an injury or if a person can no longer remember things as a result of a brain injury.

In addition to the above types of damages, in some personal injury claims, damages called loss of consortium damages are available. These are damages that are available to a spouse, parent or child of an injured person. They are intended to compensate that person for the damage to their relationship with the injured person. For example, if an injured person is no longer able to care for his children in the same way, these damages are meant to compensate his children for that loss.

Also, punitive damages are available in some personal injury claims. These damages are meant to punish the person who caused the injury, but are only available when the wrongdoer acted with reckless indifference for the rights of another.

If you have been injured and are concerned that the insurance company will not fully compensate you for your injury, you should speak with an Iowa personal injury lawyer. Please contact our office at (319) 826-2250.

The above information is meant to be helpful, but is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

How Do I Know If I'm Getting Paid Fairly?

Iowa Employment Law

Whether you have recently been offered a job, given a raise, or are analyzing your wages compared to others, you may be wondering what a fair wage is for your position and the work you do. A number of factors decide what makes pay fair – including the work done, experience levels, etc. Certain legal criteria govern what employers must pay their employees.

Federal and State Standards

The federal government sets a minimum wage requirement, with certain exceptions for tipped employees and other types of work. The federal government also maintains provisions for overtime pay requirements for certain employees and situations. In addition, each state may set its own minimum wage and overtime laws.

Wage Theft

If your employer has refused to pay you for all the wages you’ve earned, this is called wage theft. This can occur when an employer does not pay you for activities and time that are integral to your work. These activities may include trainings, travel, overtime, etc. The Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act allows employees to collect back pay owed to them, and does not allow an employer to withhold such pay if they have a claim against that employee.

Fair Pay Among Employees

In Iowa, it is illegal for an employer to pay an employee less based on gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other specific factors. Many employers may not be transparent in sharing what other employees are making at your job. However, if you learn that other employees doing the same work you are doing, with commensurate experience, are being paid more, you may have a case and should contact a workplace discrimination lawyer.

Gender Pay Gap

A particularly common issue in fair pay is gender. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits discrimination in pay based on gender. Iowa employment law includes Iowa’s Equal Pay Act of 2009, which requires that women be paid the same as men, doing the same work. However, here in Iowa, women are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid. While this is illegal, it often goes unnoticed or accepted, due to lack of transparency.

Benefits and Accruals

When considering your wages, don’t stop at the base pay, whether hourly or salary. Factor in your benefits, health insurance, retirement accounts, leave and sick time, stock options, and other accruals. If you are unsure whether you are being offered fair compensation and benefits, you should contact an attorney experienced with Iowa employment law.

Workplace discrimination lawyers are familiar with both employment law and recent cases. They can spot unfair wage practices and help you receive the compensation your work deserves. If you feel you have been paid unfairly, please contact us at (319) 826-2250 or fill out our contact form.

How The #MeToo Movement Reinforces The Importance of Civil Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault and Harassment at Work

Image from CNN.com

Image from CNN.com

On November 27, 2018, more than 20 million people watched the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Dr. Blasey-Ford offered compelling and emotional testimony detailing a sexual assault she suffered at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh when the two were in high school. The nation has watched wondering whether a man accused of sexual assault will be put in one of the most powerful positions in the country.

The Nation has also watched as Dr. Blasey-Ford, who courageously came forward with her story, has been challenged, disbelieved and even mocked. But Dr. Blasey-Ford has also inspired many victims to come forward with their stories and has brought much needed attention to the treatment of victims of sexual assault and harassment. For too long, victims are subjected to ridicule instead of respect when they come forward, while perpetrators have suffered little to no consequences. Rape is the most under reported crime in this country, with 63% of sexual assaults going unreported. The #MeToo movement has brought much needed attention to sexual assault and harassment but it remains to be seen if it will lead to lasting change.

Sexual assault and harassment in the workplace are often about power and for that reason, sexual harassment lawyers know that too often these acts go unreported. One in five women will be raped in their lifetime and 8 percent of those rapes will occur at work. And while there are a long list of reasons that prevent victims from coming forward, the law protects victims of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Both the Iowa Civil Rights Act and Title VII (the Federal Civil Rights Act) have anti-retaliation provisions that make it illegal to retaliate against employees who make complaints about sexual harassment and sexual assault. An employer cannot demote (or refuse to promote), fire or reduce the pay or responsibilities of an employee because the employee complained about sexual harassment and assault.

In addition to the employment laws already in place that protect victims who report, both the Senate and the House have proposed legislation aimed at further combating workplace sexual harassment and assault. The Empower Act, H.R. 6406, is described as an Act “to deter, prevent, reduce, and respond to harassment in the workplace, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and harassment.” The Act is sponsored in the Senate and in the house by both Republican and Democratic women legislators. If passed, the Empower Act would prohibit employers from requiring employees to sign non-disparagement or confidentiality agreements as a condition of employment if the agreement would prohibit employees from discussing sexual harassment or assault.

While retaliation has long been illegal, and nearly every employer knows they are not permitted to retaliate, as a sexual harassment attorney, I have represented many clients who have been retaliated against. We have learned from cases like those involving Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein that widespread sexual harassment and assault can go unreported for YEARS because of fear of retaliation.  If you or someone you know has been retaliated against by your employer for reporting sexual harassment or assault or if you are afraid to report sexual harassment or assault in your workplace, you should speak with a sexual harassment attorney.

As a sexual harassment attorney, I find that one of the most powerful things I can do is believe in our clients. We believe victims. Oftentimes in these cases, we will do what an employer failed to do and investigate and substantiate the stories of victims of sexual harassment and assault. This allows us to be their best advocate.

If you have been sexually assaulted or harassed at work or are currently being sexually harassed or assaulted and would like to discuss your options, please call us at (319) 826-2250.

Your Protections in a Right to Work State

Iowa Employment Law

In 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which gave states the right to restrict the power of unions within their states. Since then, many states have passed right to work laws. Iowa is currently a “right to work state.” In these states, an employee is not required to join a union nor pay union dues, even when his or her workplace is unionized. There is a lot of controversy surrounding right to work laws because many employees feel these laws are designed to undermine the power of unions and thus the power of employees to collectively negotiate higher pay and better working conditions. While these laws may not benefit employees overall, they generally do protect employees from certain conduct, as set out below.

Your Rights

Right to work laws restrict a company and union from negotiating a contract that requires all employees to join the union and pay dues. This means that an employer cannot discriminate in hiring based on union membership or union dues paid or unpaid. This also means that they cannot prohibit an employee from joining a union. Furthermore, an employer cannot deduct union dues from an employee’s wages against that employee’s will.

Exceptions

The federal Railway Labor Act supersedes state right to work legislation. Railway and airline employees may be required to pay union dues, depending on the bargaining agreements of their employer and the respective union. While railway and airline employees may have to pay union dues, they may not be compelled to participate in meetings or other union events.

Right to Work States

To date, about half the states and territories of the United States, including Iowa, have right to work laws on the books, through legislation or constitutional provision. However, as debates about right to work laws emerge and new laws are passed, these can be influx. If you feel that an employer has been in violation of a right to work law, you should research your own state’s current laws or contact a local employment lawyer.

Background in Iowa

The current law protects an employee’s right to join a union as well as refusal to join and makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee for being a member of a union or alternatively refusing to join a union. It makes any contracts that would restrict employment of those who refuse to join a union unlawful. It also states that union dues cannot be a prerequisite of employment. Finally, it makes deducting union dues from wages, without written consent of the employee, unlawful.

Common Misconceptions

The name “right to work” can be misleading. These laws do not ensure employment for anyone who wants to work. They also do not prohibit employment termination for any particular reason. Rather, they narrowly and specifically protect an employee from being compelled to participate, or not, in a union as a condition of employment.

If you need a lawyer to represent you, please call us for a free consultation at (319) 826-2250 or fill out our contact form.

Back to School Safety for Our Kids – No Matter How They Get to School

A Perspective From a Parent and a Lawyer For Child Injury

Lawyer for Child Injury

It is back to school time and, at our house, this is a crazy time—getting supplies, meeting new teachers and figuring out a new schedule and how we will make it all work. Parents all across Iowa are dealing with the same stress, including trying to figure out how they are going to get their kids to and from school. Parents have a hard enough time worrying about just getting kids to and from school and they shouldn’t have to worry about their safety on the way. This article is intended to provide some tips for helping your kids get to and from school safely and some information that may be helpful if your child gets hurt while travelling to and from school. Here are a few things to consider to keep kids safe:

Riding a bike to school

Most kids love riding their bikes and for some families this can be a great way for a kid to get to and from school, at least before the first snow fall. Pediatricians agree that it is critical for children to wear a helmet while riding their bikes. Our office donates to a number of events where free bicycle helmets are provided for children who need them. Safe Kids Linn County often gives out free bicycle helmets. On With Life and the Brain Injury Alliance are giving out free helmets at the Iowa State Fair. If you cannot afford a bike helmet for your child and are unable to find a free giveaway, email me at ann@annbrownlegal.com and I will do my best to help. Another precaution parents can take is to make sure your child knows their route to school, including where they should cross each road and has practiced riding that route.

Walking to school

Lots of kids walk to school. It is a good idea to practice your child’s route with them and to remind them to walk on the sidewalk and of safe crossing practices. A number of Cedar Rapids Schools offer Walking School Bus, which is a group of students walking to and from school with one or more adults.

Driving to school

Having teenagers is incredibly stressful and when they start driving parents are constantly worried. One thing to remember is that in Iowa, persons under the age of 18 must have a graduated driver’s license (GDL). These are the levels for licenses in Iowa:

  • Age 14 - Learner’s Permit (only drive with adult)

  • Age 14½ - School Permit (can only drive alone to and from school activities)

  • Age 16 - Provisional License (completed driver’s education and had learner’s permit for one year)

  • Age 17 - Unrestricted License (had intermediate driver’s license and been accident free for 12 months).

See the Iowa DMV website for more information. https://www.dmv.org/ia-iowa/teen-drivers.php

Taking the bus to school

Many children take the bus to school. Make sure your child knows the name/number of their bus, the name of their bus driver and where they should catch the bus. If possible, children should wait with an adult or in a group for the bus to arrive. If you have specific concerns about your child on the bus, you should express those to the driver.

Unfortunately, despite all of the precautions that we take as parents, sometimes our children will get hurt on their way to or from school. If your child’s injury was caused by another person, such as a negligent motorist, or a homeowner who did not keep their sidewalk safe, you may want to speak with a lawyer for child injury about claims that your child may have.  A lawyer for child injury can help you understand what potential claims are available and how to bring those claims, given that a child cannot pursue those claims themselves. A child injury attorney will also be able to provide guidance about medical bills, dealing with the insurance company and obtaining court approval for any settlement.

If your child has been injured and you have questions, please contact us at (319) 826-2250 or fill out our contact form.