Time to Hire an Attorney?

July 19, 2014

Time to hire an attorney?

If you have been involved in a work place accident – you may wonder if you need an attorney – you may already be receiving weekly benefits. I would advise you to talk with an attorney. Why? Often, I see employees being shorted on their weekly benefit payments – employers not including bonuses, overtime, or other cash benefits in their calculations of your weekly benefit.

If you are already receiving temporary weekly benefit payments – I will not take a fee on those payments. However, I will ensure that your employer is paying you the correct amount.

As your healing progresses it becomes more important to seek legal advice. As you get closer to maximum medical improvement, the insurance carrier will want to close your case. They will often want you to settle for a lump sum with closure of your future medical benefits. The insurance carrier may make an offer that does not properly value the full extent of your injury and its effects on your future earnings and need for future medical treatment.

A recent example – an injured employee came into my office right before he was about to be placed at maximum medical improvement. His wrist had been crushed and he developed complex regional pain syndrome, which is a debilitating nerve injury that produces excruciating pain that can radiate through your body. Treatment options usually provide little relief and the pain remains for your life. He was offered under $10,000 for closure of his case. I took his case and procured a lump sum in excess of $450,000. He also retained his right to future medical treatment.

I will fight for you and ensure that you receive the workers’ compensation benefits provided for under the law. If you have a workers’ compensation case in Southwest Iowa, including Pottawattamie County, or Eastern Nebraska, including Sarpy and Douglas Counties call me.

Fourth Amendment

April 23, 2014

Navarette v. California

Another blow to the Fourth Amendment delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22, 2014.  The decision allows officers to stop vehicles solely upon an anonymous tip of wrong-doing.  Justice Scalia, dissenting, summarized the new rule for law enforcement as:  So long as the caller identifies where the car is, anonymous claims of a single instance of possibly careless or reckless driving, called in to 911, will support a traffic stop.

In this case, the police did not know who the caller was, did not know her phone number, address or even where she called from.  The caller identified a silver Ford F-150, with a specific license plate number, and location, as running her off the road.  Police located the truck and followed it for five minutes.  During this five minute period, the driver of the truck drove impeccably, however because of the call, the police pulled the truck over for suspicion of drunk driving – and found 30lbs of marijuana.  Was there any reason to believe the driver was drunk?  No.  The driver couldn’t even be charged with reckless driving, because the witness was unknown.  Is there any indication that the unknown witness was telling the truth?  Again, no.

What are we left with after this decision?  Our freedom of movement on the road can be curtailed and interrupted by officers stopping us because of uncorroborated and anonymous tips, true or false, of possible drunk driving.  All freedom loving motorists need be cautious of malevolent 911 callers asserting traffic violations, causing stops, forcibly if necessary, by the police.



Searches and Seizures after minor Traffic Infractions

April 03, 2014

Traffic Stop Searches

The question of permissible scope of searches and seizures by law enforcement in the context of minor traffic infractions is a major issue in criminal law today.

The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable intrusions on a person’s liberty arises when an officer seizes a person.  Temporary detention of individuals during a stop of an automobile by the police, even if only for a brief period and for a limited purpose, constitutes a ‘seizure’ of ‘persons.’  As a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable when the officer has probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.

Traffic stops often are pretext for a drug investigation.  Being a single person in an automobile from Colorado or California enhances the likelihood of being stopped for a minor violation of the law.  These stops often start off with the officer indicating that only a warning will be issued.  The officer then requests that the driver come back to the law-enforcement vehicle, at which time the officer asks a plethora of questions about the driver’s travels.  The routine traffic stop is then transformed into a drug interdiction investigation.

A valid traffic stop may become “unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonable required to complete [its] mission.” This means the seizure must be limited both in scope and duration.  So long as inquiries unrelated to the traffic stop “do not measurably extend the duration of the stop” they do not run afoul of the constitution.

Often, about the time the officer is going to issue the warning, the officer will request to search the vehicle.  The driver should always tell the officer, politely, that they do not consent to a search and then inquire whether they are free to leave.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation

April 02, 2014

Medical Care and Treatment

If injured in the course of employment, the employer must furnish reasonable medical care to the injured employee.  The medical care must be offered promptly and without undue inconvenience to the employee.  An employer’s right to select the provider of medical treatment to an injured worker does not include the right to determine how an injured worker should be diagnosed, evaluated, treated or other matters of professional judgment.  An employer’s failure to follow recommendations of an authorized treating physician in matters of treatment is commonly a failure to provide reasonable treatment.

If the employer refuses to provide reasonable care, the employee can file a petition for alternate medical care.

Nebraska Workers’ Compensation

March 31, 2014

Employee’s Right to choose their Medical Provider

If injured in the course of employment, an employee can choose their own treating physician.  The employer must give notice to the injured employee of the right to choose their own family physician as the primary treating physician.  An employee’s family physician may choose to refer to another physician who provides specialized medical services.

If the employee does not give notice to the employer of the physician they are choosing, the employer will have the right to choose the primary treating physician.

An employee should always choose their own physician for treatment.

Even if an employee fails to choose his treating physician, the employee may choose the surgeon if it is determined that the employee will require a major surgical operation.