Who Should Be Reading This Book? Who Is Behind This Book And Why Should I Listen To You?

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2 INTRODUCTION Who Should Be Reading This Book? Were you involved in a serious car wreck? Was a family member killed in a sudden and tragic traffic collision? Are you or a loved one looking at a lifetime of medical bills and disability because of a reckless driver? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you have taken an important first step by reading this book. The information we give you here will help. We personally guarantee it. If you read this book and believe you did not learn something important about Iowa car accident claims, please send a letter to our office and we will make a $25 donation to the Iowa Civil Justice Foundation in your name. You probably opened this book because your mind is swirling with questions like: How do I find out if I have a personal injury case? Who is responsible for what happened to me or my loved one? How long do I have to do something about my claim? Who Is Behind This Book And Why Should I Listen To You? We have been answering questions like these for injured Iowans and their families for a combined 45 years. We wrote this book so that you could have good, solid information about Iowa car accident claims, hiring an attorney and dealing with insurance companies. No matter whether or not you choose to file a lawsuit or hire an attorney, this book contains important information that all Iowa car accident victims should know. Our names are John Riccolo, Tim Semelroth and Pressley Henningsen. We are Iowa attorneys who represent people who have suffered serious injury or lost a loved one due to a car accident. If you want a divorce or need a will or have a traffic ticket, we are not the attorneys for you. We only handle serious injury and malpractice cases and we only represent people not big insurance companies. PAGE 1

3 INTRODUCTION John Riccolo is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and is a member and Past President of the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers an invitation-only organization limited to the top 250 trial attorneys in Iowa. Tim Semelroth is also a member of the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers and is an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, which is consistently ranked as one of the top 25 law schools in the country. Pressley Henningsen is a Past President of the Jackson County Bar Association and he speaks around Iowa at educational seminars for fellow attorneys. At the time of this book s publication, John Riccolo, Tim Semelroth and Pressley Henningsen were three of only twenty one Iowans who had been inducted into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a national organization of attorneys who have verdicts and settlements of a million dollars or more. For more information about who we are, you are welcome to visit our websites at or Why Did We Write This Book? First, we are tired of getting phone calls from seriously injured people who have been exploited or otherwise hurt because they did not understand their rights as a car accident victim in Iowa. We are sick of having to tell Iowa car accident victims that they made early mistakes that cannot be fixed. We believe that the cure to these problems is providing helpful information to injured Iowans and their families before they: Make a significant mistake, like failing to seek immediate medical treatment; or Talk to an insurance company before they are educated about their rights; or Miss an important legal deadline that will eliminate any opportunity to get justice Second, we wrote this book because we believe you deserve to learn about the Iowa accident law in the comfort and privacy of your own home. This book allows you to take your time and review this information at your own pace. PAGE 2

4 INTRODUCTION You can read this book without any lawyers pushing you to file a lawsuit or any insurance companies pressuring you to settle your claim. This book contains helpful information you can use to make your own decisions. It is also a valuable resource you can save in case your family or friends face questions about a serious Iowa car accident in the future. Third, we wrote this book because giving it to you saves us time. We get phone calls every day from people who want us to represent them in their Iowa car accident claims. This book contains the same general information that we would give you if you called and spoke to one of the attorneys in our office. Writing this book gives us the chance to talk to you about what you need to know about Iowa car accident claims so you can make an informed decision about what steps to take in your own situation. We cannot accept every case. In fact, there are many cases we do not accept. However, even if we do not take your case, we believe you still deserve to have access to this important information. This Book Is Not Legal Advice This book, which is based upon Iowa law, is designed to inform and not to advise. We are offering strategies and identifying traps, but please do not construe anything in this book to be legal advice about your individual case. No person should ever apply or interpret any law without the aid of an experienced attorney who knows the facts because the facts may change the application of the law. Reading this book does not make you a client of our law firm or its attorneys. We can only represent you after you have signed a written contract with Riccolo & Semelroth, P.C. If you have any questions about your legal rights after reading this book, you can contact us at PAGE 3

5 6 Dangerous Myths About Iowa Car Accident Claims In 2003, there were over 3 million people injured in traffic accidents in the United States. Another 43,000 Americans died as a result of a car crash. Even with this many injuries and deaths every year, there are a lot of myths about what happens after a person is involved in a car accident. We want to clear up the confusion surrounding the following misconceptions: Myth #1 If You Did Not Cause the Car Accident, You Are Not Obligated to Do Anything If you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver s mistake, you have a personal injury claim. Under Iowa law, a car accident victim who wants to be compensated for a personal injury must be able to prove: That the other driver was negligent That the other driver s negligence caused damage to the car accident victim The amount of the car accident victim s damages If the car accident victim cannot prove any one of the above three elements in a court of law, he or she is not entitled to compensation. That means the burden of proving everything from identifying the important witnesses at the accident scene to providing documentation of all injury-related losses ultimately falls on you, the car accident victim. For a more detailed explanation of an Iowa car accident victim s legal obligations, read further in this book to learn the 8 Steps to Protecting Yourself After a Car Accident. Myth #2 If the Car Accident Wasn t Your Fault, Somebody Has to Compensate You for Your Injuries Being able to prove that you have a legitimate personal injury claim after a car accident does not necessarily mean that you will be fairly compensated. There also has to be a responsible party with the ability to pay. PAGE 4

6 6 MYTHS ABOUT IOWA CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS Any one of the following scenarios can have a negative impact on a car accident victim s ability to receive fair compensation: When the negligent driver has no insurance When the negligent driver does not have assets that can be seized to pay for the car accident victim s damages When the negligent driver does not have enough insurance to cover all of the car accident victim s damages That is why it is so important to have sufficient uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy. Without it, you and your family may be saddled with a lifetime of medical bills and lost wages after a serious car accident that was not your fault. Myth #3 The Other Driver s Insurance Company Must Immediately Start Paying Your Medical Bills The other driver s insurance company has no legal obligation to pay your medical bills until it is ordered to do so after a trial. Even if the other driver was obviously negligent and his or her insurance company says it will pay your medical bills, most insurance companies will only issue one settlement check for an injury claim. That one settlement check will be intended to cover all of the victim s injury claims (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) and, after that settlement check is issued, the insurance company will never pay any additional money for that particular accident in the future. That means the other driver s insurance company will not usually start paying your medical bills after a car accident until you are willing to settle your injury claim with them once and for all. How can you get your medical bills paid until you are ready to settle once and for all? A car accident victim should consider making an immediate claim with: His or her own health insurance policy His or her own auto insurance policy (for medical payment coverage) His or her employer s workers compensation insurance policy (if the car accident occurred while the employee was on the job) PAGE 5

7 6 MYTHS ABOUT IOWA CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS Myth #4 You Need an Attorney Every Time You Are In a Car Accident Hiring an attorney is an investment. Serious car crashes usually warrant that investment. Minor fender-benders often do not. If a car wreck results in severe injuries or a need for a significant amount of medical care, hiring an attorney is usually a good move. If a car accident results only in vehicle damage or only in minor and temporary bodily injury, the cost of the attorney s fee may outweigh any benefit that an attorney s service can provide. The attorneys in our office will tell you if we do not believe that hiring an attorney is in your best interest. Myth #5 A Quick Settlement Is Always In Your Best Interest As previously mentioned, most insurance companies will only issue one settlement check for an injury claim and after that check the insurance company will never pay any additional money for that particular accident in the future even if your injuries get worse. If any of the following applies, you usually should avoid a quick settlement: If you are still receiving medical care for accident-related injuries If your accident-related injuries will likely require additional medical care in the future If you have not yet been able to return to normal activities especially work-related activities If you are still in one of the above situations five months after a car accident, you should immediately consult with an attorney to see what legal deadlines may apply to your personal injury claim. Myth #6 There is No Danger in Trying to Negotiate a Car Accident Settlement On Your Own Insurance companies save money by paying as little on injury claims as possible. Insurance company representatives are trained to get you to say things that will sooner or later hurt your case and decrease any possible settlement. As you will see on the next page, there are many ways to weaken a legitimate personal injury claim when dealing with an insurance company representative the more severe your accident-related injuries, the more dangerous the consequences. PAGE 6

8 6 UNFAIR TACTICS INSURANCE COMPANIES USE 6 Unfair Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Exploit Car Accident Victims After a car accident, you will usually be contacted by a representative of the other driver s insurance company. This insurance company representative will try to establish a rapport with you and convince you to do things. You must always remember that this person is a professional trained to use a number of tactics to make sure that his or her insurance company pays you as little as possible. 1. You Don t Need an Attorney to Settle This Claim Insurance company representatives will often suggest that you do not need an attorney because we can just work this out together. You need to realize that there is no we in this situation the insurance company representative is not really your friend and is not motivated to make sure that you receive fair compensation. The insurance company representative is discouraging you from hiring a lawyer because insurance industry statistics demonstrate that it costs an insurance company an average of $9,000 more per claim when an attorney is advocating for the injured person. Courts and regulators in a number of states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, have ordered insurance companies to stop the unfair tactic of discouraging car accident victims from going to attorneys and learning about their rights. 2. My Company Won t Pay if You Don t Sign Our Medical Release Form The first thing to realize is that the other driver s insurance company is not likely to pay anything until you are willing to settle your case once and for all. Signing a medical release or any other insurance company document is not likely to change that. An insurance company is eventually entitled to review records of any medical treatment for which you ask to be reimbursed. In our experience, however, most medical release forms are written in such a way that they give the insurance company access to all of your medical records even records that are unrelated to your accident injuries. PAGE 7

9 6 UNFAIR TACTICS INSURANCE COMPANIES USE Often insurance companies will then turn around and use your preaccident health history as justification for making a low settlement offer. Our firm protects our clients from this tactic in a number of ways: We advise our clients to avoid giving an insurance company a medical release until we have reviewed your medical records first If our review uncovers items in your medical history that may impact your claim, we make sure that you know about it before the insurance company does When we do provide the insurance company with a medical release, we make sure that the release only applies to relevant medical treatment 3. My Company Won t Pay if You Don t Give Me a Recorded Statement See Unfair Tactic #2. Giving a recorded statement is not likely to make the other driver s insurance company pay your medical bills any sooner. Not only is there usually no benefit to giving a recorded statement to an insurance company on your own but there is also a serious risk. Insurance company representatives are professionals trained to take recorded statements that can be used against you in court. They ask specific questions designed to get damaging admissions from you that will reduce the value of your personal injury claim. If the other driver s insurance company calls you after a car accident, we recommend that you politely tell them that you will be happy to speak to them after you speak to your attorney. Our firm protects our clients from the danger of recorded statements by only allowing them to be taken when one of our attorneys is present. 4. My Company Won t Pay if You Don t (Fill in the Blank) Right Now Insurance company representatives will often try to pressure you to do things for them right away. They often suggest that you will not receive fair compensation if you don t act right now. This suggestion is bogus. Iowa car accident victims generally have 2 years from the accident date to seek compensation for their injuries either by settling their claims or by filing a lawsuit. While there are some situations where the law requires you to provide notice within 6 months, you only have to act when the law requires it not when the insurance company asks. PAGE 8

10 6 UNFAIR TACTICS INSURANCE COMPANIES USE 5. My Company Won t Pay for That Kind of Treatment Sometimes an insurance company representative will learn about the type of medical treatment that a car accident victim is receiving and suggest that his or her insurance company will not reimburse for that type of treatment (often treatment from a specialist or a chiropractor). That is simply not true. Under Iowa law, the at-fault driver (or his or her insurance company) is responsible for paying all reasonable and necessary medical expenses caused by the car accident. What constitutes reasonable and necessary medical treatment should be decided by your doctors and other medical providers not by an insurance adjuster. In most situations, car accident victims should seek medical treatment until they are healed or a doctor tells them that their condition is as good as it is going to get (this is often referred to as the patient achieving maximum medical improvement ). 6. My Company Will Write You a Check for $$$ Insurance company representatives will often try to convince a car accident victim to quickly settle his or her personal injury claim by throwing out a settlement figure that at first glance seems fair. What they often do not mention is that the car accident victim may not be entitled to keep all of that money. Often a car accident victim has had medical bills or lost wages paid by his or her: Health insurance company Auto insurance company ( medical payment coverage ) Short-term disability insurance company Employer s workers compensation company Almost all of the insurance policies described above require a car accident victim to pay back any amounts received if the accident victim reaches a settlement with the negligent driver or his or her insurance company. This legal obligation, which is known as subrogation, can leave a car accident victim with little or nothing after a settlement. We protect our clients from the shock of subrogation by always advising our client about how much of any settlement offer they will actually be able to put in their pockets. We also work to reduce our client s subrogation obligations whenever possible before a settlement is reached. PAGE 9

11 8 STEPS TO PROTECTING YOURSELF 8 Simple Steps to Protecting Yourself After a Car Accident Some of the most important times for action take place in the first few hours and days immediately following the car accident. During that time there is a lot of evidence available that can be preserved to protect your legal interests. It is also during this time that major mistakes can be made which can limit or destroy your ability to receive compensation for your injuries. Here are 8 steps you should take: 1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention If anyone is injured at the accident scene, call 911. If you are offered an ambulance ride to the hospital, take it. In all cases, the safe thing to do is seek immediate medical attention regardless of whether you think you are injured. Symptoms of an injury may not show up immediately after a crash. Some physical problems may not show up until hours or even days after a crash. In our legal system, the victim is always responsible for proving that he or she was injured in a particular accident. The best way to prove you were injured in a car accident is to have records from a medical examination that occurred immediately after the crash. After a person is discharged from initial medical treatment after an Iowa car accident, we advise them to read our guide, 10 Mistakes People Make When Going to A Doctor After An Injury. 2. Call Your Auto Insurance Company As soon as possible, report the crash to your auto insurance company even if you are far from home. Ask your insurance agent about how to proceed and what forms or documents you will need to fill out to support your claim. If you fail to immediately report the accident to your insurance company, you may lose whatever protection your insurance company is contractually obligated to provide you. 3. Take Detailed Notes About the Car Accident Write down everything you remember about the crash as soon as you get home. Draw a diagram of the scene and the vehicles involved. PAGE 10

12 8 STEPS TO PROTECTING YOURSELF Make note of the following information about the accident: The time of day The weather The road conditions What you saw What you heard Put the notes in a safe place so that they are available if you have to speak with an attorney or go to trial. 4. Arrange For Photos to Be Taken Even if you believe the investigating officer or an insurance company representative took photographs, you should still get photographs taken on your own. Have all photos taken both up close and from a distance. Have three times as many photographs taken as you think you will need. In particular, get the following types of photos taken: Photos of the accident location: Take photos of the scene both from the direction you approached and from the direction of the other driver s approach. Take photos of all skid marks and measure them. Take photos of any debris left by the crash before moving it. Photos of your vehicle: Do not have your vehicle repaired before it is photographed. Take photos from all angles the outside, the interior, even the undercarriage when it is up on a lift at the garage. Photos of your injury: Take photos of all visible injuries. Take photos of all bruises, scrapes, cuts, etc. while they are fresh. Photos of your medical treatment: Have photos taken of you in the hospital. Have photos taken of all casts, slings, and bandages. If you are prescribed the use of a wheelchair, walker or crutches, get photos of those as well. When in doubt, take the photograph. If your case has to go to trial, you want to have all of the visual evidence that you can to show to the jury. PAGE 11

13 8 STEPS TO PROTECTING YOURSELF 5. Get Permission Before Having Your Vehicle Repaired In addition to having photographs taken of any damage to your vehicle, you should find out what procedures your insurance company requires before arranging for car repairs. If you fail to take this important step, your company may refuse to pay your repair bills. If anyone was seriously injured or killed in the accident, you should also talk to an attorney before having your vehicle repaired. 6. Avoid Contact With The Other Driver s Insurance Company It is probably not in your best interest to speak to anyone from the other driver s insurance company. Insurance company representatives are trained to take statements that can be used against you. Tell them to contact you only in writing and do not sign any paperwork from an insurance company other than your own. If you have questions about a document that you are being asked to sign, talk to an attorney first. 7. Talk To An Attorney Before You Pay A Traffic Fine Or Go To Court For A Traffic Ticket Paying a fine for a traffic offense can be used against you as an admission of guilt. Any testimony at a legal hearing can be recorded and used against your interests. Before taking either action, you should talk to an attorney either one you have hired yourself or one provided to you by your insurance company. 8. If You Suffer Car-Accident-Related Injuries, Settle Your Claim Or File a Lawsuit Within 2 Years of the Date of the Car Accident Iowa law requires a car accident victim or the victim s family to settle a claim, start a lawsuit or give notice of an intent to make a claim within a short period after the accident. Generally, the Iowa statute of limitations for an injured person is two years from the date of the injury. In certain situations, however, injured parties must provide notice before filing suit. That notice may be required within six months of the accident. There are also some limited exceptions to the usual statute of limitations. Whether an exception applies in a particular case is a question that must be answered on a case-by-case basis by an attorney. PAGE 12

14 WARNING ABOUT YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY WARNING: If You Are Not Careful, Your Health Insurance Company May Seize Money You Receive in a Car Accident Settlement or Verdict That was not a typo. It is possible for a health insurance company to take your money after a car accident settlement or verdict. It is the result of a federal law called The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ( ERISA for short). ERISA, in some instances, can allow a health insurance company to collect the money they spent providing for your medical care if you are ever paid money by the person who caused your injury. What can happen is that a car accident victim can get a settlement or a jury verdict and then later get a letter from his or her insurance company stating that the victim is legally obligated to reimburse the insurance company for the amount of the medical benefits paid. The letter usually threatens a lawsuit against the victim unless the ERISA reimbursement which can sometimes be as large as the whole settlement or verdict - occurs within a limited amount of time. It does not seem fair, but it can happen. Do not get caught off guard by an insurance company s ERISA claim. Before attempting to settle a car accident claim or deciding whether or not to file suit, it is important to review with an attorney whether or not you face a potential ERISA claim. An experienced attorney can often take steps to reduce or eliminate your reimbursement obligations under ERISA. PAGE 13

15 WRONG WAY TO PICK A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY The Absolute to Pick an Iowa Car Accident Attorney Make no mistake hiring your Iowa car accident attorney is an important decision with real consequences. Your choice of an attorney can mean the difference between receiving fair compensation and being stuck with a lifetime of unpaid medical bills and lost wages. The absolute wrong way to pick a car accident attorney is to make a hasty decision based upon convenience or guesswork. Here are just a few examples of the misguided ideas that lead people to choosing the wrong lawyer for their case: I ll just go to the lawyer who handled my divorce. A common mistake is taking a serious car accident case to the only lawyer you know. Just because a lawyer did a good job on your cousin s drunk driving charge or your neighbor s will does not mean that he or she is qualified to handle a serious car accident case. In fact, some of the best Iowa car accident attorneys have highly focused practices you are not likely to find one who also handles family law, criminal law and probate matters. A lawyer who you already know and trust can be a useful resource in finding a qualified car accident attorney (see #1 of A Step-By-Step System for Finding the Right Iowa Car Accident Attorney for You) but your search should not necessarily end there. I ll just go to the lawyer with the office down the street. What are the odds that you just happen to live minutes away from one of the relatively few Iowa lawyers who practice primarily in serious car accident cases? The sad truth is that most people are willing to drive several hours for a good deal on a new car but they do not look beyond their hometown for a lawyer. Don t get us wrong if you were injured in Iowa, you will likely need a lawyer with a license to practice in Iowa. But what many people don t realize is that a car accident attorney who is licensed to practice law in Iowa can file a lawsuit in any Iowa county. You should not focus on picking the nearest attorney you should focus on picking the best and most qualified one for your case. That kind of choice can and should involve a statewide search. PAGE 14

16 WRONG WAY TO PICK A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY I ll just open my phonebook and see the first lawyer who takes my call. The Yellow Pages can be a useful resource in finding a qualified car accident attorney (see #1 of A Step-By-Step System for Finding the Right Iowa Car Accident Attorney for You). The costly mistake some people make is calling only one law office or only talking to the first lawyer who returns their call. Any lawyer can seem qualified or knowledgeable if you do not have anything to compare him or her to. A smart consumer will use the phonebook to come up with an initial list of names that can then be carefully investigated. One more warning about the phonebook beware of phonebook ads for lawyers who list 6 or more different types of cases that they handle. The more specialties they list, the less time they actually spend in each area. I ll just let an attorney referral service or website direct me to a lawyer in my area. What we are talking about here is the type of service either over the phone or on the internet where you are directed to describe your situation and give your city and state. In exchange, you are then provided with the name of an attorney to contact. A lawyer is listed by an attorney referral service or website not because they are good at the specific area of law, but because they have usually paid a fee to be listed. You won t get a guarantee of the recommended lawyer s expertise or experience. You need to have more information available to you to make an informed decision. Without more information, it is dangerous to rely solely on an attorney referral service or website s recommendation. PAGE 15

17 STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FINDING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY The Step-By-Step Guide for Finding the Right Iowa Car Accident Attorney For You So what can you do to make sure that the attorney you hire is qualified to handle your case? We have put together a step-by-step system that will greatly increase the odds of finding an attorney who is qualified and will represent you well. 1. Create a List of Names of Iowa Attorneys Who Handle Serious Car Accident Cases This sounds fairly simple, but it is a very important first step. In many cases people do not stop to check what their options are before hiring an attorney. Think of it like this when you combine the amount of time and money invested into a serious car accident case, it could be as big an investment as a new house. You would not buy the first house that you saw without stopping to look at others in the market and exploring other options. You should not do that with an attorney either. Here are a few places to start your search: Do an Internet search. The internet can be a great tool for doing an initial search for names of Iowa car accident attorneys, but be careful. We already outlined some of the dangers of relying too heavily on online directories or referral services. The key to searching the internet is not to do a general search like Car Accident Attorney. You will get thousands of results from all over the country. Make sure to include Iowa as one of your search terms. Also, do not rely too heavily on the information contained on a particular lawyer s website. The purpose of searching the internet is not to hire an attorney on the spot, but to build an initial list of names that you will investigate more closely. Check the Yellow Pages. Again, here you need to be careful. Focus on what the phone book ad is telling you about the attorney. Because Iowa car accident law can be complex, limit your search to attorneys who list one or two closely-related specialties (for instance, Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice are closely-related specialties). PAGE 16

18 STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FINDING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY Some Yellow Pages will also list subcategories of lawyers after the general heading Attorney. Do not forget to check the subcategory of Accident or Personal Injury as well as the general Attorney heading. Ask your friends who are attorneys. If you have a friend who is a lawyer, ask him or her for the names of attorneys who handle serious car accident cases. As we have already explained, the odds are that your friend does not handle serious car accident cases him or herself, but your friend probably knows attorneys who do. Your friend can give you the names of Iowa attorneys who have a good reputation for handling your type of case. If you have several lawyer friends, ask all of them for names. If a few names come up from every lawyer you ask, those names are probably the car accident attorneys with the best reputation in the area. 2. Call the Names on Your List and Ask For Written Information Now it is time for you to collect information on the different attorneys that you have identified. Start by calling each lawyer s office and requesting the lawyer s written materials on car accident cases. It is important to say that you want information specifically on car accidents because you want to know right away whether they truly focus on serious car accident cases. If a lawyer does not have anything to send you or if he or she tells you that you have to come into their office to get their materials, you should look elsewhere. Remember that you are just collecting information at this point. You want written materials rather than an in-person consultation with the lawyer because you want to be able to evaluate each attorney s qualifications at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. You don t want to be talked into anything over the phone or get a high-pressure sales pitch until you are ready to ask the right questions. Once you receive the written information, read it. Compare the information in those sources to the information in this book and other materials that you have found on Iowa car accident claims. After you have finished reviewing the written information, create a short list of Iowa car accident attorneys (no more than 3 or 4) who clearly have the expertise and experience that your case requires. PAGE 17

19 STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FINDING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY 3. Arrange For In-Person Interviews Call each of the offices on your short list and schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney. There is absolutely no substitute for sitting down with an attorney to decide if he or she will be a good fit for you. In order for an attorney to represent you well, you have to be comfortable with the attorney and trust him or her. In addition to your general feeling about each attorney, it is also important that you ask each of them the right questions. We have included some important questions in the next section. They are not the only questions to ask, but they are questions that reveal important information about an attorney s expertise and experience in serious car accident cases. PAGE 18

20 SMART QUESTIONS TO ASK AN IOWA ATTORNEY 6 Smart Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring An Iowa Car Accident Attorney 1. Are You Eligible Under Iowa Rule DR 2-105(C) to Advertise That You Practice Primarily in Personal Injury Law? This is a question that only a legal insider would likely know to ask. In order for an Iowa attorney to advertise that he or she practices primarily in personal injury law, the lawyer must file an annual written report with the Iowa Supreme Court s Commission on Continuing Education swearing that: the greater of 400 hours or 40% of the lawyer s time in the preceding year was spent doing personal injury cases; and the lawyer has attended 15 hours of continuing legal education in personal injury matters in the preceding year. Do not be fooled if a lawyer tells you that he or she is eligible under Iowa Rule DR 2-105(B) rather than (C)! Iowa Rule DR 2-105(B) requires only 100 hours or 10% of the lawyer s time in the preceding year was spent doing personal injury cases. This question Are you eligible under Iowa Rule DR 2-105(C) to advertise that you practice primarily in personal injury law? is the fastest way to find out whether you are talking to an experienced Iowa car accident attorney who is making an effort to stay informed of the latest medical and legal trends. Relatively few Iowa attorneys can answer this question with a Yes. 2. Are You Listed in The Best Lawyers in America? The Best Lawyers in America is a publication that is updated every two years and is one of the largest guides to attorneys in the United States. In order to be listed, you need to be nominated by someone who is already a member, and then go through a review process conducted by other attorneys around the country. PAGE 19

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