If your child has been injured at daycare, you may wonder if you need a lawyer for child injury and if child injury claims are an option for daycare injuries.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Perspective From a Parent and a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted in 1993 to give eligible employees unpaid, but protected, time off in the event of certain emergencies or other family related matters. The FMLA guarantees that in these circumstances an employee can not be laid off or fired if he or she needs to take this time off.
What Does the Law Provide?
The law provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off in a 12-month period, but with all eligible benefits, such as health insurance, in place. It also protects an employee from being fired if he or she needs to make use of this time off.
If the family member, or employee, is a member of the U.S. armed services, the protected time off extends to 26 weeks in a 12-month period.
When Can This Leave Be Taken?
In general, FMLA can be taken when you or an immediate family member is facing a serious illness and need care. Immediate family members are defined as parents, children, or spouse. In 2005, the law was extended to include same-sex unions as part of the definition of spouse.
This leave can also be taken at the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a child into foster care into one’s home.
Who Is Eligible?
The law protects those who work for a private employer with 50 or more employees, within 75 miles of where you work, or those who work for a government employer. The employee also needs to meet certain criteria. For instance, he or she needs to have been employed for the last 12 months (or 12 months in less than 7 years, if seasonal). He or she needs to have worked 1250 hours in 12 months or about 24 hours a week.
What If I’m Not Eligible?
If the specific criteria listed by the Family and Medical Leave Act does not apply to you, you may still be protected by state or local laws, or your employment contract. You can check with your Human Resources department or state labor laws for specific information.
When you need to take leave protected under the FMLA, you should give your employer as much notice and information as you can, to ensure that your rights are protected. However, if you have made your employer aware of your situation and your rights are being compromised, we may be able to help.
Iowa’s gender pay gap is one of the widest in the nation. According to the AAUW, on average, women in Iowa make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. That number is well below the national average and places Iowa at number 41 in a ranking of the 50 states and Washington D.C.
Factors At Work
Employers give a lot of reasons for the gender pay gap, but really the gender pay gap is a result of gender discrimination – pure and simple – both historical and current discrimination. Because women have historically been paid less than men they are often willing to accept lower pay than a man would, however courts have made it clear that woman’s willingness to accept a lower pay rate does not make it legal to pay her less for the same work.
This factor is compounded by the fact that many women don’t know they are being paid less than the men they work with. Many employers prohibit employees from sharing their salaries allowing them to keep unequal pay a secret. Although Iowa passed its Equal Pay Act in 2009, and it is one of the strongest Equal Pay Acts in the nation, it requires that employees file a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission or file a lawsuit in order to remedy unfair pay. As it stands today, there are no specific laws in Iowa that prevent an employer from requiring his employees to keep their wages a secret from their fellow employees. Workplace discrimination lawyers see firsthand that this lack of transparency may cause female employees to be unaware of discriminatory pay practices happening in their workplace.
What You Can Do
Whether you are a woman in Iowa feeling that pay gap, or anyone anywhere who feels the weight of this discrimination, there are steps you can take to make change.
1) Advocate for Yourself
Speak with your employer or your fellow employees to find out if your salary or wages is commensurate with your male colleagues. Negotiate your salary, raises, and bonuses with confidence, knowing that the U.S. Equal Pay Act, Title VIII and Iowa’s Equal Pay Act protect women from being paid unfairly. Iowa and federal law also protect you from retaliation from your employer for bringing this up. If you suspect unfair pay practices, here are a few things you should know.
2) Advocate for All
Starting with your own negotiations, continue having this conversation. Speak with other women in your industry or community and encourage them to speak up for themselves. Unequal pay practices occur in every field and women in leadership positions may be at a higher risk of being paid unfairly. If you are in a position to set salaries in your organization, review women’s pay and advocate for equal pay among men and women.
3) Legislative Change
Educate yourself about local or state laws on the ballot that further protect employees from wage discrimination. Speak with your legislators, state and federal, about laws that encourage transparency and honesty in wage practices. At the federal level, every year, a bill is introduced that would require employer transparency so that people know when they are being paid unfairly, but every year corporate employers oppose the bill and it has never passed. Contact your representatives and encourage them to support this bill. Iowa could enact a similar law and so you should also contact your state representatives and encourage them to put forth this type of legislation.
4) Seek Legal Assistance
If you discover that you have been paid less than your male colleagues, we can help. We have experience as workplace discrimination lawyers and have successfully represented women in court who were being paid unfairly.
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:
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.
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.
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.