Monthly Archives: March 2009

New Iowa Cases – Three Interesting Ones

Hi folks… I’m swamped with actual work now, so too busy to blog much. Priorities and such, you know?

I did want to bring to your attention three new Iowa Appellate cases that may be of interest.

1. A UIM carrier can contract around the 10 year statute of limitations. Think you potentially have a UIM claim? Better check your policy, ASAP!

2. In Iowa Dram Shop Cases, the statute of limitations begins to run when notice is sent to the bar/tavern, not when the accident or injury happens. This is huge.

3. An interesting discussion of the “F word”. Apparently it’s not as f-ing shocking as it was in the 1880s (partially due to Rod Blagojevich… just read the opinion).

Read, enjoy, and comment if you want. Back to the salt mines for me.

(Howard Zimmerle is an accident and injury lawyer in the Illinois and Iowa Quad Cities)


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Wow! New Illinois Workers Comp Case Helps the Injured, But Probably Wrong

One of the main fears of Illinois Workers Compensation attorneys (heck, any workers comp attorney, probably) is that, after settlements are drafted and approved and checks are sent out, it pops up.

What pops up? That medical bill that had been hiding in the client’s desk drawer, or lurking behind the bushes, or hanging from the client’s ceiling fan, waiting to pounce at the most inopportune time.

Make no mistake, this devious bill hates you. It hates clients, attorneys, and all good-hearted people in the world. It even hates the doctor who sent it (if it liked the doctor, it would have shown up by now and been paid). And puppies… boy does it hate puppies. (editor’s note: Mr. Zimmerle has no actual proof that neglected medical bills hate puppies… but he states he’s “pretty darned sure” so I’ll allow this in – ed.)

All hatred aside, this despicable little bill needs to be paid. (Make no mistake, this bill is rarely “little”). But whoops, the contracts are drafted and approved and make no mention of this bill at all. Normally it would be the client’s responsibility to pay this bill out of the settlement proceeds – leading to one unhappy former client.

However, the Fifth District Appellate Court put on its Superman cape and apparently saved those clients… at least for now. The new case of Hagene v. Derek Polling Construction indicates that those bills are still the employer’s responsibility, depending on the language of the settlement contract!

Now this contract language seemed pretty good to me. It listed all “Medical Expenses” without the bills at issue. The employer checked a box stating that it had paid all medical bills, and in a space to list the unpaid medical bills, none were listed.

It gets better.

The second page of the contract notes that the settlement is in “full, final and complete settlement of any and all claims… including… past, present and/or future medical and hospital bills.” It even states that the “Petitioner submitted to the Respondent all reasonable, necessary and causally related medical and hospital bills and that the Respondent has fully satisfied the same prior to the approval date of this contract.”

Wow. Somehow, the Fifth District still held the employer responsible for the unlisted, unpaid bills. I have to be honest… even though this case helps my clients and myself, I think it’s probably wrongly decided.

Nevertheless, good petitioner’s attorneys should know that this case is out there, and use it if ever confronted with one of those puppy-hating, neglected bills. Enjoy it now folks, because soon good defense attorneys will have learned how to contract around this case. Even Superman gets leapfrogged eventually.

(Howard Zimmerle is a workers compensation attorney from Rock Island, Illinois).

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Filed under Illinois Case Law, Illinois law, Negotiations, Settlements, Workers Compensation

On the other site…

Attorney Zimmerle to judge Mock Trial Competition. (That’s me!)

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Important News for Iowa Lawyers

Due to budget cuts, the State of Iowa is closing courthouses for the following days this year:

March 20, April 10, April 24, May 8, May 22, June 5 and June 19, 2009.

Perhaps more importantly, for those of you (us?) out there who sometimes wait until the last minute to file things, be aware that district court clerks’ offices will close to the public at 2:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning March 24th. This order seems to indicate that, if a filing deadline falls on one of those days, the deadline would carry over to the next day. It scares me though.

Be aware, and let’s hope the courts get enough funding for 2009-10.

(Howard Zimmerle is an attorney practicing in Scott County, Iowa).

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On my other blog…

Click here to read the first part of my entry explaining the basics of how Illinois Workers Compensation works.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Estimate Vehicle Value for Property Damage Settlement


Any attorney who deals with car accidents will know just how important it is to resolve a client’s property damage claim as soon as possible. Of the many problems that face clients who have been in a car accident, the simple fact that they don’t have a vehicle for some time often creates as many headaches as anything else.

If you are working with a client and trying to assess what his/her vehicle was worth at the time of an accident, you should know about these three websites: (with one more cool thing to follow)

NADA Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book


The really cool thing, and the reason for my post, is this – what do you do if your client needs you to estimate property damage values for an older accident? Say, an accident that is a year old?

Edmunds lets you do “historical value pricing” to determine what your vehicle was worth in the past. You don’t get an answer right away, but they’ll send you an email with the info you need, and it’s free! I don’t usually shill for businesses, but I thought this was pretty cool.

Oh, and obviously, you’ll probably need a live witness to prove vehicle value at trial. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty way to estimate value, here’s your answer.

(Howard Zimmerle is an auto accident attorney in Rock Island and Moline Illinois).


Filed under Negotiations, Settlements