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.

 

3 Ways a Motorcycle Injury Attorney Can Help if You Have Been Injured Riding Your Motorcycle

Motorcycle Injury Attorney

It is summertime in Iowa and that means a lot more motorcyclists on the rode enjoying one of America’s growing past times – motorcycle riding. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of households owning a motorcycle has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years. 

Additionally, more older Iowans are riding motorcycles and, as a result, there has been an increased focus on safety among motorcycle riders. This has included motorcycle training courses and the Share the Road movement, which is “intended to reduce accidents between drivers and motorcyclist by seeing, respecting and understanding a motorcyclist’s needs and rights on the highway.”

Despite the increased focus on safety, unfortunately, motorcyclists are still at a higher risk for injuries and fatalities from an accident than other drivers. If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, there can be a lot of complicated legal issues and a motorcycle injury attorney may be able to help you so that you can focus only on healing and recovering from a crash. Here are three things that a motorcycle injury attorney may be able to help you with:

  1. Determining the Insurance Available to Compensate You: When you have been injured because of the negligence of another it can be overwhelming to determine which insurance company should be paying your medical bills and should compensate you for your injuries. This can be complicated in motorcycle injury cases because many motorcycle insurance policies do not include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or medical payments coverage; however, Iowa has specific laws about this type of coverage. This can mean that it is important to determine the type of insurance that the negligent driver has and also to review your own insurance policy to determine what kind of coverage you have and if you may have additional coverage available because of Iowa’s insurance laws. In addition to these considerations, you also need to determine if your health insurance carrier should be paying your medical bills for treatment as you receive it and if they will be entitled to be paid back if you recover from the other driver. These issues are complicated but are very important to make sure that you recover as much as possible to help you with everything that you have to deal with when you have been unexpectedly injured. A motorcycle injury attorney can help you sort through these issues.

  2. Proving Who Caused the Crash: Motorcycle crashes can raise additional issues about who is at fault for a crash. Oftentimes the other driver will claim that they didn’t see the motorcycle and may assume that the motorcyclist did something wrong to cause the crash. It is important to get copies of the police investigative file and talk with all witnesses in order to prove who was at fault for the crash. It may also be necessary to hire an accident reconstructionist if it is not clear how the crash occurred. If the other driver caused the crash, a motorcycle injury attorney can help prove that and therefore help protect your rights.

  3. Overcoming Jury Biases: People can feel very strongly about motorcycles and motorcyclists. Some people feel motorcycles are inherently dangerous. Other people believe motorcyclists are dangerous drivers. But motorcyclists have the same rights as all drivers on the road and when they are injured, they have the same right to recover. If it becomes necessary to try your case in front of a jury (meaning it does not settle) a motorcycle injury attorney can try to help the jury understand motorcyclists’ rights.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or if you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, please call us at (319) 826-2250, or fill out our contact form,  to discuss what you are going through and determine if we can help.

Sobering Facts - What you need to know about drunk driving and Iowa's dram shop law.

Between 2003 and 2012, 968 fatal accidents in Iowa involved a drunk driver. Around 30 % of fatal crashes are alcohol-related.  In addition to fatalities, numerous people are injured by drunk drivers throughout Iowa. The Des Moines Register recently published an article highlighting the following shocking statistics:

  1. Since 2005, 222 people have been charged with vehicular homicide as a result of driving drunk;
  2. At least 13 of those drivers were caught driving drunk after being convicted of vehicular homicide;
  3. Since 2005, more than 11,300 people have been arrested for driving drunk three or more times.

These numbers are consistent with what I have seen in my practice. In nearly every case where I have represented a person injured by a drunk driver or the family of a person killed by a drunk driver, it has not been the first time the person was arrested for drunk driving. 

Unfortunately, often a driver with a prior drunk driving history does not have sufficient insurance limits to fully compensate the persons they have harmed (or does not carry any insurance). This leaves injured persons to recover for their own insurance through uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or, in some cases, to pursue a dram shop claim. 

In Iowa, the law prohibits bars or other establishments that hold a liquor license from over-serving patrons. A bar that serves a patron to the point of intoxication or when they reasonably should know the patron is already intoxicated can be held responsible if that patron later harms someone while drunk. The law also requires that in order to obtain a liquor license, a bar or other establishment must provide proof of dram shop insurance. 

Dram shop cases can be complicated, often because the drunk driver refused to submit to a breathalyzer. They often involve obtaining the investigative files from police, speaking with investigating officers and hiring a toxicologist to determine if the drunk driver was likely served to the point of intoxication at the defendant bar. 

One important thing to remember about dram shop cases is that persons injured by a drunk driver must send a notice of a potential dram shop claim to the bar within six months of the date of injury unless they can show good cause for not doing so. Dram shop claims are often pursued in addition to a claim against the drunk driver who caused the injury. 

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you should speak with an attorney about a potential dram shop claim as soon as possible. If you would like to speak with me about your claim, please call me at (319) 826-2250. 

Wrongful Death—Grieving a Loss that Never Should Have Been

Life is meant to be lived in the company of our families. The moments we spend with our parents, our children, our husbands or wives—those are the moments that make up a life well-lived. There is no greater heartbreak than the death of a loved one. It can be even harder when a death is unexpected and caused by carelessness. Words left unspoken. Plans broken. Dreams unrealized. 

During these tragic times, it seems unfair that there is often so much added responsibility to the families who have lost when grieving is already too much to bear.  We have been with families through these tough times and have found ourselves questioning how we could best help these families when at times it seems that any help we can give is not enough.   

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, who unexpectedly lost her husband, has recently written a much-needed book addressing many of the things that are left unsaid about tragedy and grieving. The book is called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Sandberg not only gives advice for those who are grieving but for those who care about someone who is grieving. There are two pieces of advice that she gives that spoke to me: 1) don't ignore the tragedy because you don't know what to say; and 2) actually do something to help, no matter how small,  instead of simply offering to do anything.

One way that we strive to help our clients is through pursuing wrongful death claims, which can be complicated and overwhelming. We help our clients in a number of ways, including:

  1. Protecting them from unwanted communication from an insurance company;
  2. Helping them to determine potential claims and how to pursue them;
  3. Helping them to navigate opening an Estate; and 
  4. Finding available community resources. 

Our goal with every client dealing with an unexpected death is to provide them with reliable counsel and advocacy so that pursuing a wrongful death claim does not become overly burdensome in an already difficult time. 

Bicycle Accidents—What Every Iowa Motorist Needs to Know

 Iowa bicycle accident lawyer

When I was a child, my bicycle meant freedom to me. Before we had drivers' licenses, my friends and I would ride our bikes all through our neighborhood. Now my daughter and her friends ride off on their bikes almost every night when the weather is warm(ish). I still love riding my bike as an adult—it is a great way to get outside. 

With spring finally here, bicyclists of all ages are out on the streets, and it is important for motorists to keep an eye out. Bicycle accidents can have tragic consequences, and so it is important for motorists to obey all traffic laws relating to bicycles. Most of Iowa's laws concerning bicycle-motorist safety are found in Iowa Code Chapter 321. Here are a few provisions to keep in mind:

  • Drivers are prohibited from steering unreasonably close to bicyclists, including bicyclists that are on the roadway and on the shoulder;
  • The same rules for passing vehicles apply to passing bicycles—drivers should only pass bicyclists when it is safe to change lanes; and
  • Drivers should avoid following bicyclists too closely. 

For more safe driving tips designed to keep Iowa bicyclists safe click here. 

If your child needs a bike helmet, visit Safe Kids Linn County to find out how to get a free children's bicycle helmet. Also, Ann Brown Legal is a contributor to the Hiawatha Memorial Day Bike Rodeo where they give away bike helmets to the first 50 children. 

Wrongful Death Cases: Why women's lives should be valued equally with men's

 Iowa Wrongful Death Attorney

Throughout my career, I've represented families who have lost a loved one because of the negligence of another. Whether the result of a car accident, medical malpractice or even criminal conduct, wrongful death cases are important not just to the family involved, but also as a way to make the world safer and hopefully spare another family a similar tragedy.

I've helped families where the victim was male; I've helped families where the victim was female. One disturbing truth that I've discovered is that many insurance companies—even lawyers—will place a lower value on the life of a loved one if the person lost is a woman. 

Insurance companies and defense attorneys make arguments about women's earnings and their role supporting their families, but the truth is that this belief about women's lives is archaic, insulting and ridiculous. I have refused to ever accept this logic when representing families. Children who have lost their mother, husbands who have lost their wives, parents who have lost a daughter—their tragedy should never be devalued because of outdated and simple minded arguments. All lawyers representing families who have lost a female family member should advocate for that family as strenuously as any other family and recognize and honor their loss by rejecting all claims that women's lives are somehow worth less than men's lives. 

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
— Oscar Wilde

Representing children is not simply representing small adults

 Iowa Child Injury Attorney 

It is particularly devastating when a child sustains a preventable injury. Beyond simply the additional tragedy that occurs when a child is injured, there are also additional legal considerations. I have represented many Iowa children, injured because of someone else's negligence and have found that it is critical to thoroughly understand the law applicable to pursuing a claim and obtaining a recovery on behalf of a child. 

One of the first things to understand is that a child cannot bring a lawsuit on behalf of themselves; the lawsuit must be filed by an adult. Oftentimes, the lawsuit is filed by the child's parents, but when that is not possible, the court will appoint a conservator to pursue the child's claim. Parents of injured children have their own claims, called loss of consortium, that are often brought in the same lawsuit as the child's claim. 

Additionally, if the adult bringing the claim on behalf of the child settles the child's claim for more than $25,000, the court must approve the settlement and in part how the settlement money will be spent. It is critical for children who are receiving public benefits like Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps or rental assistance to have their settlement structured in a way that allows the child and their family to retain most benefits. This is also an important consideration if the child has a mental disability and may need public benefits in the future. 

I have found that money obtained on behalf of injured children has often been life changing for those children. For some of my young clients, it has provided the means for a safe and healthy home; for others, it has allowed them to obtain additional services not otherwise available to the child. Pursuing claims on behalf of injured children is absolutely one of the most important things that I do as a lawyer. 

It's not about me...

 Ann Brown Legal 

Ann Brown Legal 

Over my years practicing as a trial lawyer, every single case has been different, but they all share one simple fact: not one case has been about me. If I am being authentic, I must confess that I like to argue, like to stand in front of the jury, like to win. But victories don't belong to me, they are my clients' and my only role is to tell their story and to stand with them through the process. 

People do not become my clients during the happiest or easiest times of their lives. They need me during times they have suffered great loss or injury or been subjected to injustice. They often come to me overwhelmed, heartbroken or angry - never the best version of themselves, but always the best they can be at that difficult moment in their life.

I have represented all different types of people, many of whom I never would have met but for this job. All of my clients have had their own strengths and their own flaws and every case has its own challenges.  But every one of my clients has been deserving of some form of justice that only the civil court system can provide and that is why I will always choose to stand with families over corporations and people against insurance companies.  

It is a privilege to tell my clients' stories and to help them right injustices. Sometimes I am able to watch my clients come through the difficult time that brought them into my office and get back to the life they love. Some harms my clients have suffered are too difficult to ever overcome, but I hope that obtaining justice helps to lighten their burden. Many of my clients have stayed in touch after the conclusion of their case and I now am able to share in their continuing story.

While no case has ever been about me, I have been impacted by every case I have had. My clients have been a very big part of my story...and I am honored and humbled by it.