We had a personal injury client contact our office wondering whether she should settle her injury case. She had been in a relatively serious accident, and her injuries did require an immediate trip to the emergency room, multiple doctor visits and chiropractic treatment. She called us less than one month after her accident. She had received a check from the insurance company which had not deposited (thankfully) and an agreement from the insurance company to pay up to a certain amount for medical bills. But the agreement also contained a full release of further liability on the part of the insurance company and the driver who admitted fault. The insurance company, in our view, had tremendously undervalued her claim. They were hoping she would take a low-ball figure very quickly. (I’ve discussed this insurance company tactic in other blog posts).

An important factor in cases like this is that the client had not finished treating for her medical injuries. At the time it was hard to know how serious the injuries ultimately would turn out to be, although we knew the value of her injuries far surpassed the insurance company’s  offer. Without a lawyer, she would not have known otherwise.

The seriousness of injuries often do not manifest themselves for some time. As a result, we generally recommend waiting at least a minimum of 90 days after an accident before attempting to settle your personal injury claim. It allows you to get a more accurate picture of your long-term prognosis. In some cases that timeframe may need to be even longer. In this case the client also had a concussion. Concussion and other head injuries are often difficult to diagnose and treat. They have the potential to have numerous adverse effects, even when you do not necessarily see immediate evidence of a head injury. Sometimes these effects do not go away. Therefore, waiting a reasonable period to resolve your case is especially important if you have sustained a concussion or head injury.

Another reason to wait before settling your injury case is because it is important to gather and examine all the medical records and bills. You only get one shot at receiving fair compensation from the insurance company. So you want to make sure you do not miss anything.

Finally, while it is always preferable to settle a case if possible, there are occasions that require going to trial in order to receive full compensation for your injuries. You will want to make sure you hire a lawyer that has the willingness to take your case to trial. In our experience there are lawyers whose sole objective is to settle your case, but are not necessarily willing to try your case in the face of low offers from the insurance company. Find out how many cases your proposed lawyer has taken to trial in the past 12 months. If they have not taken any cases to trial, they may not be the lawyer for you.

Please contact us for a free case evaluation if you have questions about your injury case.

 

 

If you are injured in a personal injury accident of any magnitude, we guarantee you the insurance company will review and monitor your social media accounts. The adjusters and/or their investigators will look for information to discredit you and your injuries. So what is the best policy to protect your personal injury case?

It’s really very simple.

Stay off of social media to protect your injury case.

Don’t post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other sites. Don’t be the person who claims a debilitating injury, but yet is pictured on Facebook partying, traveling, working out, etc. And most certainly, do not make statements about your accident or injuries on social media. It will not benefit you in any way, so just avoid it.

Do not give the defense in a case the ammunition to discredit your personal injury. Many social media posts and situations could easily be misinterpreted. Staying silent on social media is important in order to maintain a viable claim. Other steps you should take include:

  • Ensure through your privacy settings that only friends can see your posts.
  • Change your settings so only you can post on your timeline.
  • Delete any apps you are not using.

Share too much information on social media and your case could be over before it begins. So do yourself a favor and just give up the social media posts during the period of your case.

The weather in Iowa has been wonderful most of November thus far but winter is not far away. And winter in Iowa generally brings a number of slip-and-fall accidents. Lots of slip-and-fall accidents occur on sidewalks when people are shopping. Many of the store retail locations do not actually own their property. So, can those non-property tenant owners still be held liable for slip-and-fall personal injuries?

A law school friend of mine wrote an interesting blog post on an Indiana slip-and-fall case that could have application here in Iowa. In the case he referenced a grocery store did not own the property. And not only did the store not own the property, but also a management company had been hired to make sure the sidewalks were clear and maintained during the winter. A jury ultimately held the grocery store liable for 25% of the fault for the plaintiff’s injuries. The grocery store appealed.

On appeal, the grocery store argued the duty of care for “Invitees” did not apply because it neither owned nor controlled the sidewalk in question. There was precedent in Indiana that tenants cannot be held to have a duty to safely maintain areas for which they have not assumed responsibility and over which a landlord has specifically retained control, including common areas like sidewalks. However, the Court disagreed with grocery store’s position in this case and held as a matter of law that, as the business entity that invited Jones onto the property, the grocery store owed some duty of care to the plaintiff as an invitee. In the Court’s opinion, the fact that grocery store did not own the property and the property owner, as opposed to the store, had contracted for snow and ice removal services did not summarily relieve the store of liability. The Court noted the duty of an invitor to exercise reasonable care for the safety of invitees is an active and continuing one, and that parties cannot contract their way out of their duty to exercise reasonable care with respect to third parties. The Indiana Court of Appeals accordingly affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of the plaintiff.

A similar result could occur here in Iowa. Stores must be aware of the active and continuing to exercise reasonable care with respect to its invitees. Retail locations should not automatically assume that hiring a management company to clear sidewalks relieves them from all responsibility for slip-and-falls accidents even as a non-property owning tenant.

How do you choose a personal injury attorney for your case? The first step might be to get a referral from a friend or relative. Most often, a referral from someone who has experience with attorney is a great way to find a lawyer. But if you don’t have a referral source, it may be little more difficult to find the right attorney. In a lot of states you might see billboard after billboard of personal injury attorneys as you drive down the road. Fortunately, in Iowa, we don’t really have the constant barrage of roadside billboards. Other times you will see commercials with catchy phone numbers and slogans, or lots of ads on the Internet with bots that constantly pop up on the website asking for your information while all you want to do is browse the site for information.

But who you choose to handle your personal injury case can make a huge difference. You want to try to find an attorney who is willing and able to obtain a favorable trial verdict, not just someone who wants to get a quick settlement that may not be to your advantage. It is important find an attorney who insurance companies respect or perhaps even fear.

Some questions to ask might include the following:

  1. What are the last three jury verdicts your law firm has tried to a jury verdict? If the lawyer can’t tell you at least about their last three jury verdicts, they aren’t likely the lawyer for you. It means they likely don’t have an active trial practice, and it is also means the insurance company is less likely to pay top dollar for your injuries.
  2. What cases have you handled that are similar to my case? While every case is different, you want to find a lawyer that has the background and experience to handle your case. A great example in our firm is that one of our lawyers is an avid motorcycle rider. The breadth of his background and experience is invaluable for clients that have been injured in a motorcycle accident. If you want someone to care about your motorcycle case, it sure helps to have someone familiar with motorcycles on your team.
  3. Do you feel comfortable with the attorney? This is a bigger deal than prospective clients might think. Litigating personal injury cases can be stressful. The relationship you have with your attorney is hugely important. You want to work with a personal injury attorney that cares about his or her clients.

The bottom line is that choosing your personal injury attorney involves more than just seeing an ad or responding to a catchy phone number. The financial impact and injuries can literally last a lifetime and you get only one chance to get paid what you truly deserve. Choosing a personal injury attorney quickly and without asking the right questions can literally cut your recovery. A truly qualified attorney will be very happy to answer each of them. If, on the other hand, an attorney is unwilling to answer your questions, or doesn’t have good answers for you, that attorney is probably not the right attorney for you.

If you have been involved in a personal injury case, take the initiative to contact us for a free case evaluation.

  • Insurance companies try to minimize your payments. Insurance companies use various negotiations and strategies to minimize settlement payments. Especially if you are filing a claim with another person’s insurance company, the other insurance company will often make it very difficult to get the full compensation you are due.
  • Insurance companies do not want you to hire a lawyer. Insurance companies will often tell you they want to quickly process your claim. They want to do this BEFORE you hire a lawyer so you don’t fully know the value of your claim, or understand your rights. Insurance companies often give low-ball offers to claimants who are not represented in the hopes that they can quickly resolve a case without paying fair value. Settlement negotiations can often be a long process in order to get fair compensation. You need to be patient. And often, your medical situation may not be entirely known early on. It is possible your injuries get worse over time. It is important to know the prognosis of your injuries before you settle. Just know that quick settlements are often low settlements.
  • You are entitled to many different types of damages. After an accident a number of expenses and damages occur. Medical bills, damage to vehicles or other property, loss of work, and pain-and-suffering are just some of the ramifications of an accident. The law protects people by allowing them to seek compensation from the party at fault.
  • You cannot seek further compensation once you have settled. That’s right. Once you have settled with the insurance company, there is no going back to the insurance company for additional monies. The settlement release will close your case for good. This means even if you learn of more serious injuries and damages down the line, you will not be able to pursue them if you have settled. For this reason we highly suggest you talk with a personal injury attorney prior to entering into any settlement with the insurance company. A lawyer can help advise you regarding the value of your case and assist in negotiating a fair settlement for your injuries and damage. There is no question that hiring a lawyer increases your chances of receiving fair compensation, especially when more serious injuries are involved.

The Brick Gentry Trial Team has extensive experience in dealing with insurance companies for personal injury clients. Please feel free to contact us for a free case evaluation.

When you are involved in an auto collision, it is very likely you will end up dealing with insurance companies. Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident can be very confusing. Regardless of whether it is your insurance company, or the insurer of another party in the accident, you can be assured insurers will attempt to limit payout amounts to as little as possible. You can easily make things go from bad to worse if you unknowingly say the wrong thing. Here are three things not to say to an insurance company after a car accident:

  1. Don’t guess. You will be asked many questions by the insurance adjuster. These questions are designed to help the insurance company limit their financial exposure from the accident. So, if you are asked things such as how fast you were driving or how far away you might have been from the other vehicle, do not guess. Your guess will be used against you if possible.
  2. Do not admit fault. When you say you are sorry, or indicate you may have acted inappropriately, you could be making a very big mistake. Even if you believe you are at fault, you should not admit it. After all, you do not know the extent of the other driver’s fault. Do not apologize, or try to explain your potential liability. Bottom line, it is NOT for you to decide who is responsible for the fault of the collision.
  3. Do not say you are not injured or that you are feeling fine. While you may not have pain at that present time, some injuries take time to manifest. As an example, we had a client who was hit in the head by a suitcase that fell from an overhead compartment on a bus. At the time the client felt just fine. Three days later the client suffered a brain aneurysm and almost died. The injury required emergency surgery and it all related to an accident that had occurred three days earlier. The truth is you do not know how you will feel in a week, a month, or maybe even a year after the accident.

If you have been injured in a car accident, we can provide you experienced legal assistance to maximize your recovery. Please feel free to contact us for a free case evaluation.

 

The moments right after an accident can be disorienting but remaining calm and acting fast works to your advantage. When you’re involved in a car or motorcycle accident,  remember to follow these rules:

  • Stay at the scene: It’s important to stay on the scene no matter how minor or severe an accident is until everyone has been accounted for and a police report has been filed. Checking if anyone got hurt is not only considerate but can help prove you did not abandon the collision.
  • Call the police: Contact the police immediately after the accident occurs. If anyone appears to be injured, request medical attention. Even if the damage is minimal, filing a police report is necessary to have a record of the accident and documentation of all the details. Having the police document the accident is critical because it provides the account of a neutral third party professional.
  • Record information: Regardless of what information the police gathers for their report, make sure to  document your own for personal records. Sometimes the police do not get information right in the report so it helps to have the information to check against the report to determine if changes should be made. Definitely get contact information for anyone else who was in the accident including phone numbers, addresses, email and insurance information as well as driver’s license and license plate numbers. In addition to gathering general information, use a camera phone to take photos of any damage, and of the other vehicles with their license plate numbers. Obtaining the names of witnesses and their accounts of the accident will prove very useful if a legal case arises.

If you have been injured in an Iowa car or motorcycle accident, please contact us for a free case evaluation.

After a collision, the last thing on most car or motorcycle accident victims’ minds is collecting evidence in case you have to file a lawsuit against the driver who hit you. However, the most successful car or motorcycle accident verdicts or settlements usually have one thing in common—solid evidence proving what happened and showing how bad the accident was.

If you think you might have to file an accident claim, you are probably wondering how do you prove the other side is at fault?

Photographic Evidence

We have all heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. This tried and true adage rings especially true at the trial of a car or motorcycle accident injury case when the picture in question is of the plaintiff’s vehicle or motorcycle following a collision. Such photographs often serve as the single most important piece of evidence through which jurors view all of the other evidence in the case.

You should take wide-angle pictures that show the angles of the vehicles involved. Also, take close-up shots of injuries, skid marks and property damage. If the accident happened because a driver broke a traffic law, take photos of streetlights, speed limit signs and other traffic markers. You will want your photos to tell the story of the accident.

Keep in mind that the police may take pictures if they feel the photographs are relevant to the investigation or violation, however, there is no rule requiring them to photograph every accident scene. Often, the police DO NOT photograph the accident scene. To be careful, it is best to always try to take your own photos if you are able, or if you are unable under the circumstances, try to have someone with you take photos of the accident scene.

If you have been injured in an Iowa car or motorcycle accident, please contact us for a free case evaluation.

  • Less protection. Other vehicles on the road such as cars and trucks have a protective steel cage. Motorcycles lack this type of structural support, so they are less crashworthy and leave motorcyclists more vulnerable during an accident.
  • Less Road Stability. Motorcycles balance on fewer wheels. Due to their two-wheel design, motorcycles are less stable than passenger vehicles. Therefore, they are more difficult to control when braking and cornering.
  • Less Visible. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and so they are less visible. Accidents often happen because a vehicle driver fails to check their blind spots when turning or changing lanes.
  • More road hazards. Bumps or changes in the road surface may cause instability when on a motorcycle. While a car may handle poor weather or road conditions, a slight hazard, such as road debris, can lead to a motorcycle accident.
  • Driver inexperience. Operating any motor vehicle requires training, experience, and caution. Motorcycles require a different combination of physical and mental skills than those used in driving four-wheel vehicles. They are less stable than passenger vehicles, and slight changes in weight distribution can have disastrous consequences. Some inexperienced riders may engage in risky behaviors, increasing the chance of a crash.

A motorcycle accident can occur in an instant, and the permanent effects of the pain and impact on everyday life can leave you struggling to remain employed, pay your bills, or perhaps even walk. You may well wonder how you can best recover from your motorcycle crash—physically and financially. We can help you understand what you’re facing and how to pursue compensation when someone else caused your motorcycle crash. We have an experienced personal injury attorney in our law firm who also happens to also be an avid motorcycle rider, both in competitions and as a recreational rider. It makes sense to have an attorney familiar with motorcycles to handle these types of cases, not just your run-of-the-mill personal injury attorney. The experience and insight he brings to such cases is incredibly valuable. If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash in Iowa, please contact us for a free consultation.

A major area of our trial practice consists of trade secret and non-compete law. We hear all the time from people that believe Iowa is a “right to work” state so that means non-competes are not upheld under Iowa law, right? Wrong.

Non-competes are upheld in cases where the scope and duration of the restrictive period is reasonably necessary to protect the employer’s interest as compared to the employee’s interest. Whether the non-compete will be upheld various greatly on the wording of the agreement and the position held by the employee.

But in a recent article from Seyfarth Shaw on some of the top developments in trade secret, non-compete law and computer fraud, I found it really interesting that government agencies are increasing the scrutiny of non-compete agreements. This is especially true in the case of certain franchises who had “no poach” provisions in their agreements. Lots of times these policies are used to prevent lower-wage workers from moving to higher paying jobs. Often fast food franchise operators have been found to have these sorts of provisions in their agreements. Attorney generals in several states alleged these provisions limited the earning potential of these lower wage employees and many franchisors decided to remove the clauses in the agreements due to pressure from the attorney generals.

Please be sure to read the article link for other interesting developments including a $700 million to a technology start-up In Texas for damages in a misappropriation of trade secrets case.