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Des Moines Injury Lawyer

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

We provide answers to a variety of common personal injury questions to help keep our clients well-informed.

There is no requirement that you have an attorney for a personal injury case. However, having an experienced lawyer on your side can be invaluable.

Our personal injury lawyers spend all day, every day, working only for individuals injured through no fault of their own.

By virtue of our experience, we can accurately value your case, efficiently process your paperwork, deal with the insurance companies, negotiate bills with medical providers, communicate with defense attorneys, prepare your case for trial, and try your case to a jury. At the same time, you have just one point of contact for all your questions, concerns, and needs.

Following an injury, we believe you should be able to focus on your recovery and allow us to focus on the details.

If you choose to pursue your case on your own, the insurance companies will be well aware of that fact and will, more often than not, make you low-ball offers. They do so because they bank on the fact that you will not be able to try a case to a jury on your own. That is, the risk to the insurance companies is much less than it would otherwise be when you are represented.

Subrogation refers to the practice under which one party is reimbursed by another party for money they have paid on your behalf.

In personal injury law, subrogation usually deals with a health insurance company being reimbursed by another insurance company (or your settlement) when the health insurer pays accident-related medical bills and the injured party then makes a recovery from a third party for their injuries.

The specific terms of subrogations are defined in insurance policies so it is important to have an experienced lawyer review all applicable polices so you know who, if anyone, has to be reimbursed and to what extent.

Who pays your medical bills depends on the types of insurance that are involved with your case. Frequently, your private health insurance company will pay for accident-related medical bills but, on occasion, other insurance companies may be on the hook. Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer to this question and the options are many.

In order to have your question answered more completely, please contact us to discuss the details of your case and we will analyze who is responsible for your bills.

A class action case is a case with multiple “plaintiffs” (people who were injured and a bringing a claim) against one or more “defendants” (the person / people or companies who injure someone).

Class action cases are often seen against large corporations who, through act or product, injure a large number of people – the “class”. The number of class members must be large enough, as determined by a court, to make handling cases on an individual basis impractical.

Class action cases are different than “mass tort” cases which are often seen in pharmaceutical cases. Mass tort cases involve large numbers of people but each case is individual.

The lawyers at Des Moines Injury have handled class action cases and pharmaceutical cases and are ready to evaluate your case.

The lawyers of Des Moines Injury have represented people who have been injured by “bad drugs” such as Vioxx and Fosamax as well as people who have been injured by “bad medical products” such as the Stryker Knee and Trans-Vaginal Mesh products.

Not every injury caused by a bad drug or faulty product will result in a personal injury case but some certainly do.
If you think you have been injured by a bad drug or faulty medical product, contact us today for a free consultation.

As with texting cases and other distracted driver cases, the answer is “maybe”. Just like with texting or any other type of distracted driving, whether someone was drunk might prove to be important if the other driver or their insurance company dispute who is responsible for the crash. If, however, fault is not an issue then, again, evidence of intoxication is not nearly as important.

However, if you are hit by a drunk driver, you might have what is called a “dram shop” case. That is a case against an establishment that serves intoxicating liquors that over serves a patron who, in turn, injures someone else.

The elements of a dram shop case are rather involved so you should contact us today if you have been the victim of a drunk driver.

It might matter that a negligent driver was texting. If, after a car accident, the at-fault driver is disputing who is really responsible for a crash, then evidence of texting may be extremely important.

If, on the other hand, someone who is texting hits you but admits that the crash was their fault then the fact they were texting may not be as important.

The reason for this distinction is that, ultimately, what is most important is proving that a car accident was not your fault – period. So, if someone admits fault, the reason behind it is not particularly important. If, however, they dispute fault, then we use all the evidence at our disposal, including evidence of texting, to prove fault.

Following an accident, in our opinion, you should not talk to ANY insurance company until you talk with a lawyer. The reason this is important is that insurance companies will often take even the most innocent comments you make and use them against you down the road.

Often, an insurance adjuster will try to convince you that they are trying to help you and you have to talk to them and/or provide a recorded statement in order for them to work with you – this is not true. That said, you or your lawyer do need to report your claim in a timely fashion but that is different than providing a statement.

We recommend having your lawyer report your claim so the insurance company does not attempt to get a statement from you while you are reporting the claim.

At some point in time, you might have to provide a statement to your own insurance company but, again, do so only after talking with your lawyer.

A “statute” is, in its simplest form, a written law. A “statute of limitation” is a law that dictates how long someone has to make a claim or, in the criminal context, how long the state has to charge someone after the commission of a crime.

The statutes of limitation vary depending on the claim you intend to bring. If you fail to bring your claim (or start a lawsuit) within the allotted time can forever bar you from doing so.

For a standard negligence claim in Iowa, the statute of limitation is two years. However, there is also a doctrine known as the “discovery rule” under which the time you have to bring your claim doesn’t start running until you “discovered” your injury or should have discovered it upon reasonable investigation.

While we can’t speak for any other law firm, we represent our clients on a contingency basis which means we do not get paid a dime until we make a recovery for you. Our fee is typically one-third of whatever we recover for you plus our “costs”.

“Costs” refers to actual money that our firm expends on your behalf. For example, we advance the cost for medical records, court filings, and the like. Our costs are reimbursed out of your settlement. If for some reason, we do not make a recovery for you, you owe us nothing. It really is that simple.

Every injury has to be evaluated on an case by case basis. If anyone tells you “you have a case”, without first hearing all the facts, they are likely simply trying to sell you something.

At Des Moines Injury we take the time to truly listen to the facts of your situation and ask follow up questions as needed in order to determine not only whether or not you have a case but precisely what type of claim(s) can be made and what you should expect. However, if you were injured and it wasn’t your fault, you likely have a case.

That said, we have talked to countless people who have been told they don’t have a case only to learn that they really do. If you have been injured in a cartruck, or motorcycle accident or in any other manner, our consultations are always free so contact one of our Des Moines, Iowa personal injury attorneys today to learn how we can help.

Every case is unique and, thus, the settlement timelines are unique. There is no one right answer to this question.

We believe that a case shouldn’t be resolved until your injuries and associated treatment have run their course. You should not settle a case while you are still actively treating as you wont know what the future holds in the way of additional treatment and pain and suffering. If you do settle prematurely, you could be settling for far less than your case is actually worth and, thus, jeopardizing your your ability to pay for care you need.

There are times you may be able to settle your case within a few weeks and, conversely, there are cases that can take years to resolve. Call us today to discuss the specifics or your case and we will be able to provide an estimate.

If you have been hurt because of negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, then you should consider talking to a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injuries. A lawyer can also protect your best interests against aggressive insurance companies or large corporations that wish to avoid paying fair compensation. While not every personal injury case needs a lawyer, it is often helpful to have someone with the legal knowledge and experience to review your case. The lawyer you see can explain your legal rights and can tell you whether you could benefit from hiring a lawyer or not.

Social media is something that many of us turn to in order to keep our family and friends informed about our life. The downside to that is the insurance adjuster on the other side is going to use anything they can find to prove that you aren’t as injured as you claim to be. Even something as innocent as a post saying you are doing okay is enough for them to claim that you don’t need the compensation you rightly deserve. You should also advise your family and friends to refrain from posting about you or your case. The insurance adjuster will seek out anything they can find to prove you are lying about your injuries even if you aren’t.

Accidents happen, and we at
Des Moines Personal Injury Law

know that these things can be frightening at the moment and seem overwhelming. Admitting fault puts you at risk of not receiving any compensation you may have been entitled to. Even if you are partially at fault, you shouldn’t admit to anything. The insurance team on the other side wants you to admit fault, and they can often be pressuring you into saying it. After an accident emotions are often running high, but you still have to remember to not admit any fault. Depending on your local laws, determining fault could still mean that you can recover some compensation.

A good lawyer is going to be open and honest with you on if you need a personal injury lawyer or not. No good lawyer is going to take on a case just because. A good lawyer will walk you through your legal options and explain why they feel you would benefit from having a lawyer. A good lawyer will also have the experience to best be able to assist you with your case. Typically, they will have several years of experience that they can bring to the table to assist you. A good lawyer will also be passionate about helping you get the justice you are seeking. This means excellent communication through your case, keeping you informed about deadlines, and helping you understand what is needed of you through this process.

The insurance company is not your friend. They are a business and its main goal is to minimize payouts so it can maximize its profits. They have a bottom line to meet and paying out what you deserve settlement-wise is not going to do that. Accepting the first settlement from the insurance company will get the whole ordeal over quickly, but it won’t be fair to you. By not accepting the first settlement offer you are granting yourself a better chance of getting the compensation that you rightly deserve. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.


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    Wendy Larson
    Wendy Larson
    Highly recommend Chris Johnston! Was easy to work with, straight forward, capable to take on any challenge, and an excellent communicator!
    Debra Larson
    Debra Larson
    Johnston/Martineau is an excellent personal injury firm. They are very attentive to their clients and take the time to answer any and all questions to ease the process as much as possible, allowing clients to focus on their healing. I would highly recommend them!
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    Nicole Smith
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    Kamen Rider
    Excellent firm!
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    Lucille Johnston
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    Patty Nearmyer
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    Christopher Cruse
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    Mike Ramsey
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