4 Reasons to Hire a Disability Attorney

To Build the Strongest Case Possible


After facing an unexpected injury, seeking proper compensation can be necessary, especially when this accident resulted in a permanent disability. Not being able to work and having to pay medical bills can destroy a person’s savings and credit, causing them to slip between the cracks. When a proper disability case is built, it has impact and it deserves rectification. In order for a proper case to be built, however, the individual who is in charge of the lawsuit should seek adequate presentation in court. By hiring a disability attorney in Sioux Falls, one can better their chances of building a strong case that can result in a win and not a loss.


To Get the Compensation You Deserve


Individuals who have been debilitated by an accident can at times be compensated rightfully. However, with so many disability cases being filed, getting what one truly deserves may not occur. When armed with a disability attorney, however, one’s chances of being compensated as expected can become a reality. A disability attorney is going to transform one’s claim into a bulletproof case, one where the outcome of an accident is clearly displayed, causing the other party to pay their debts. Individuals who have been debilitated due to improper working conditions or unsafe living situations are subjects of what should have been prevented. Winning a case that is going to pay off one’s lawyer fees, hospital bills, and support one while they are unable to work is optimal.


To get Your Claim Processed Sooner


There are thousands of disability claims filed in America every single day, and every single one of them has to go through a process before getting accepted. When without proper representation, one might not know the tricks of getting their claim processed sooner than later, causing their case to be put on a back burner. However, a disability attorney will. The fresher a case, the better one’s chances of winning it, as injuries are fresh and visibly noted by the judge.


To Beat the Odds of Getting Approved


Every day, judges all over America are slammed with different disability cases, making them an expert in these dwellings. When a plaintiff presents him/herself at court without an attorney, this can cause the judge to be wary. Being able to follow through with paperwork and deadlines may seem easy, but there are many notions one must abide to, and learning all these in a short amount of time is rarely possible. Having a disability attorney on one’s side can take some heat off one’s shoulders, resulting in a professional claim getting approved.





Finding a Good Injury Lawyer Just Got A Lot Easier

Looking for a good lawyer in the South Dakota area (particularly in Sioux Falls) can be a real drag. There are countless practicing firms out there, but it can be daunting to try and find the right one for the situation at hand. Was it a domestic dispute? Is a criminal felony on the table? Is someone being charged with a DUI? Was someone injured at the workplace or was a victim of negligent behavior? All of these questions are absolutely necessary to ask before going out and seeking the right kind of support.

It is crucial that one rigorously researches what kind of lawyer is needed, before wasting countless time, energy, and money finding the right kind of aid. Thankfully, finding a good injury lawyer in Sioux Falls is easier than one might think. Personal injury claims are some of the most recurrent cases to grace this continent; so finding a suitable attorney should be easier done than said!


Personal Injury

When it comes to law, it is important not to confuse personal injury with injury claims and cases, even though the two terms can be used interchangeably. A personal injury lawyer deals with injury caused to a person’s body, mind, and or emotions. Personal injury has nothing to do with the property of the person seeking assistance; it only has to do with the continued well-being of said person.



Sometimes the result of an injury caused by negligence leads to disability. If somebody becomes disabled due to the negligent circumstances of another person, they may become permanently incapable of working or going about their lives in a normal manner. The stress and strain associates with this withdrawal from society as it once was hits people in unimaginable ways. Taking the time to find the right kind of injury lawyer in Sioux Falls could lead to a major settlement, with large awards. This settlement might be the only thing keeping one positive and motivated during the whole ordeal.


Taking Initiative, Leading By Example

Not everybody wants to prolong the ordeal of dealing with a personal injury case or otherwise. It can be an exhaustive process that does not always reap the right kind of rewards that were expected. Many people choose to stay dormant instead of seeking legal aid, simply due to the stresses involved with how much time, money, and energy are involved with legal cases of this magnitude.

It is important to understand that taking initiative and dealing with the case as soon as possible will help educate everyone involved in the case, which helps educate society by and large on the matter at hand.

The Major Pitfalls of a Workman’s Comp Suit

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in the workplace, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of a workers compensation claim, and you main end up needing a Sioux Falls workers compensation attorney in order to have your claim taken seriously. The first thing you need to know is that your employer is likely insured against workers compensation claims, so you won’t necessarily be dealing with the company’s personal attorneys but rather the insurance company’s attorneys. While there may be penalties for the employer if the claim should be upheld, both the employer and the insurance company have a vested interest in making the problem your fault. Since there are some unscrupulous employees that abuse the process, there is going to be an in depth inquiry, and in all likelihood, a worker may have to submit to a drug test.


“Just because an injury happens on the job, doesn’t mean that you’re automatically entitled to collect against your employer’s insurance,” says one workers compensation attorney from Sioux Falls. “It’s important that when you see a doctor, if he says you have an illness and it’s likely related to your job, that you report that to Human Resources. If you were injured on the job, tell your doctors. They need to know that, and that information can be referenced later when you’re making the claim. Remember, your employer has insurance to cover these things and it’s there for a good reason. But sometimes the insurance companies can be a bit prickly about paying out a claim. Insurance is a business, and the fewer claims they pay out, the more lucrative the business is.”


“It’s generally when employees aren’t on the ball about telling their doctors about how they got the injury and being upfront with the HR department about what’s going on that insurance companies either get suspicious, or see an opportunity to deny a claim,” he continued. “Another thing that happens to employees injured on the job is that their employer tells them that the accident was their fault and so they’re not covered. That’s a lie. Worker’s compensation is no fault insurance so even if you slip on your own banana peel, you should be covered by the company’s insurance. There’s a limit to just how stupid you’re allowed to be and still make the claim, but you shouldn’t believe your employer if they tell you that it’s your fault for your not being covered.”


“And one instance where workers compensation insurance will not pay out is when an employee is found to be drunk or high on the job,” he said. “Most employees will require a drug test after a claim is made, so stay sober at work, because if you don’t, you’re not going to qualify for worker’s comp.”

What You Need to Prove in a Negligence Personal Injury Case

In a great majority of personal injury cases the key factor for holding an individual or company liable or at fault is negligence. In layman’s terms negligence means that the person or company acted in either a careless or neglectful way and as a result another party was injured. It is the basis for personal injury cases involving slips and falls, defective products, car accidents, and a great many others. For those looking for a lawyer in the Sioux Falls area, it helps to have a basic understanding of how the case is tried because a smart client can help their attorney make their case.


In order to win a negligence personal injury case, four elements must be satisfied.


  1. Duty
  2. Breach
  3. Causation
  4. Damages


These will be described in more detail below.


#1. Duty


Duty means that the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances that led to the personal injury. Examples of duty include a number of different circumstances. For instance, a doctor owes a patient a legal duty of care. If a patient is under the care of a doctor and they act in a negligent or careless way when treating the patient, the patient may be entitled to legal compensation. Another instance is a landlord. A landlord owes a tenant a legal duty of care. They must provide their tenants with a livable place to reside. If there are electrical problems with the apartment and these result in a fire, the landlord might be held responsible. A renter may be held responsible for those they invite over. If they slip on unshoveled steps, or are bitten by the renter’s dog, then the renter might be responsible, given the other 3 conditions are met.


#2. Breach


Breach means that the defendant breached their legal duty either by acting in a careless way or failing to act. For instance, if a landlord has heard complaints about bad electricity in an apartment building and then fails to take care of it, that would indicate that they failed to act in accord with their duty to provide a safe residence. The same argument can be made of a homeowner who neglects to shovel their stairs resulting in an injury.


#3. Causation


Here, the plaintiff must prove it was the defendant’s actions or inaction that as a direct result led to the personal injury of the plaintiff. Generally, negligence cases fall apart when a landlord isn’t told beforehand about a potential issue with the property. They can’t be held in breach if they don’t know there’s a problem.


#4. Damages


For a personal injury suit, the plaintiff must show that there were damages as a result of the breach of legal duty.


Hopefully, this helps you make your case.

What to Look for in a Disability Attorney

Applying and being successfully awarded disability is a legal process. It has become more difficult in recent years due in large part to the fact that congress seems perpetually concerned with the state of social security. Most folks that need disability, won’t really understand the process, how the decision is made to award a payout, and what information they need to provide the court with in order to secure their award. Not only that, it can be very stressful when there is the loss of a job and financial insecurity, with debt looming on the horizon. For those that are unable to work, finding the right disability attorney in Sioux Falls is going to be their best option. With over 1.3 million people in line for benefits, chances are your case will end up held up in the courts for at least a couple of years. The forms to fill out themselves can be confusing, let alone knowing what information you’ll need to provide the decision committee with. It’s important that you have someone to advocate for you.


In the past, lawyers would only take disability cases after a first claim was denied. Nowadays, there are lawyers that are helping clients through the initial stages of the process. The reason for this is that the forms themselves can be intimidating, and while in some cases there are social workers or mental health advocates that are there to help out, others with physical disabilities may have no such recourse.


“One of the things that they make applicants do is fill out a questionnaire asking them questions about their activities of daily living,” says one disability attorney from Sioux Falls. “This form can be very intimidating, even to very bright people. It requires a certain level of detail that a lot of folks are going to be scratching their heads about. It helps to have someone guide you through the process that is familiar with how the system works. Having someone to advocate your case before the court, who understands your case and can get the right information from doctors is paramount to filing a successful claim.”


“In some areas there are going to be disability lawyers that specialize in certain kinds of disability claims,” he continued. “For instance not-yet-elder claims that deal with folks in their 40s and 50s that are too young to retire but has significant health problems that prevent them from working. Some are going to specialize in mental health cases, which is important because it may not always be apparent to folks that you have difficulty with work environments. So understanding your particular case is also an issue.”

What a Job-Related Injury Means

As the days go by, physical labor can take its toll on the body of an employee. At times, the results of these injuries are able to keep the employee out of work for a period of time. Hurt employees may love their job and not want to leave work, even if they are physically incapable of performing their duties.  Because of this, many people fail to report injuries to management in fear of losing their employment or being judged.


The reality is, people will get hurt at work. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. If one is injured, it is important to remember there are others who are able to help them through, and that includes an employer. Contacting a workers compensation attorney in Sioux Falls immediately after an injury can help relieve some of the anxiety that comes along with physical pain caused during working hours.


The First Steps

The first thing a hurt party needs to do is recognize the injury. While this seems obvious, a back strain may seem minor at first, until the person realizes it affects their movement and work. In South Dakota, a person must file the claim within three days of an injury occurring. This means if one is hurt one day, and realize later in the day or the next morning they are still able to notify management of the incident. This process can be long but is a critical step if the injury worsens or the employee needs to be out of work for a period of time.


What Next

Once the injured realizes they will be out of work, they will want to check into local workers comp laws. The easiest way to do this is by finding representation with a history of positive claim outcomes. The lawyer will be able to go over all of the paperwork required by the employer and review the process. The party will then be informed of what rights they have, what fees will be involved, and what amount will be given to the person while they are out of work. The lawyer should suggest a doctor’s recommendation so the person will know how long to expect to be out of work.



While it is easy to have an upfront idea of how proceedings will go, as well as healing after, things may change along the way. A doctor may find the injured is healing faster or slower than expected. This can change the date when the person will be able to return to employment. A doctor may also find the person is no longer able to do the work. If this happens, the person may want to look into filing a claim for disability.

Types of Damages Available for an Injury Claim and Limitations?

If you have been in an accident or have been injured in some way by the willfulness or negligence of another, chances are you have significant expenses from medical bills as well as time off at work and possibly damage to property.  These damages are “economic” and can be added up to a certain dollar amount.  The goal of any personal injury claim or lawsuit is first to make you whole, or get you the money necessary to reimburse you for past out of pocket expenses, and expenses for evaluation, testing and treatment, and loss of time from work, and future loss of earnings, and future medical expenses.

In South Dakota, you are also entitled to compensation for “non-economic” damages such as the injury, pain and suffering, disability, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.  These damages are not in a certain amount and can vary depending on an individual’s circumstance and the type of injury.  For instance, the loss of a limb in a car accident will cause a permanent disability for which the injured party will have to be compensated for the duration of his or her life.  The law states that the “measure of damages should be enough to compensate for all the detriment proximately caused thereby, whether it could be anticipated or not.”

Additionally, South Dakota in some cases allows for “punitive” or “exemplary” damages.  When a defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, a jury may decide to punish that defendant by awarding punitive damages. (SDCL §21-3-2).

Another limitation to recovery of damages in a negligence action is “contributory negligence.”  In South Dakota, a person who is injured may have their damages reduced or barred if their actions contributed to the injury.  That reduction is determined by a comparative percentage of fault.  In fact, the claim for damages may be barred completely if the actions of the injured party that contributed to their injury were more than “slight” compared to the defendants.  A jury determines whether there was contributory negligence by the Plaintiff and whether the contributing negligence by the injured party was more than slight so as to bar any recovery.  (SDCL §20-9-2).

South Dakota law states that you have three years to commence suit for personal injury damages and up to six years for damages to your personal property.  (SDCL §15-2- 13 and 14).

If you have been injured, the lawyers at Wilka & Welter, LLP have the special knowledge, skill and experience to help you get the full compensation to which you are legally entitled.

Slips and Falls on Other People’s Property: What You Need to Know

Let’s face it: it’s cold here, and the winters are icy. In most cases, business owners and property owners do have a duty to keep property that they know is going to attract the public or house guests reasonably safe. In instances where their negligence has led to an injury from a preventable slip and fall, they will owe damages to a plaintiff. What you probably don’t know is that homeowner’s insurance and business insurance covers these accidents. This is a bit of a mixed blessing, because the insurance company will be representing the defendant very often if they are insured, and insurance lawyers are extremely aggressive. They want to protect the insurance company from paying out the claim regardless of whether or not their client was at fault. That means you need a skilled personal injury attorney to take your case, you want them to be someone who can and will stand up to insurance company lawyers.


The major difficulty in a slip and fall case is proving that the property owner is responsible for the accident. In order to prove that the property owner is responsible, the plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant, by some means, could have prevented the accident beforehand. That being said, there are some conditions under which a property owner might not be held liable. The fundamental question here is causality. If the plaintiff is found to have taken a risk in not avoiding an icy part of a parking lot, or there were some clear signs around that the plaintiff should have heeded, then the property owner may not be responsible for the fall at all.


The property owner does, however, have a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions. For instance, an icy parking lot that hasn’t been plowed that expects a lot of early morning business can be held liable for not having the area plowed. A property owner will be held liable under the condition that they created conditions under which a reasonable person, using reasonable judgment, would have slipped and fallen under the conditions they created.


For those who think they have a case against a careless property owner who maintained unsafe conditions, keeping records of everything is of paramount importance. It may not be feasible at the time to take pictures of the parking lot directly after the accident, but hanging on to medical records, especially if an ambulance is involved, can go a long way toward helping your case. If you fall under unsafe conditions, it isn’t your fault. You are owed damages.

Contributory and Comparative Negligence in South Dakota

One thing personal injury lawyers have to contend with in all 50 states is the problem of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence involves cases in which fault cannot be firmly established in one direction or the other. In other words, if an individual is partly to blame for an accident, it may be determined that the individual is owed a percentage of the damages. But South Dakota laws differ from the rest of the nation, in terms of this metric for assigning fault. For those in Sioux Falls, you’re going to want to find a personal injury lawyer that understands how the system works.


The metric for determining fault in South Dakota is based on a system of slight / gross levels of fault. If it can be determined that in individual in this is responsible for more than a “slight” amount of fault in a personal injury case, that they might not have any legal recourse to pursue action against another party. In the case of Wood v. City of Crooks, it was determined by the South Dakota Supreme Court that, rigorously defined, a fault level of over 30% precluded a plaintiff from pursuing action against a defendant in a personal injury suit.


Of course, the major problem is determining what constitutes fault of over 30%, and insurance company lawyers are very good at making it seem like any amount of fault successfully satisfies and exceeds that threshold. It ends up being that South Dakota is an extremely lucrative market for Insurance Companies that don’t like paying out claims. It’s then left to an arbiter or the court to determine what percentage of fault the plaintiff was responsible for, and not the extent to which the defendant was at fault.


“It’s a troublesome law,” says one injury lawyer from Sioux Falls. “If a defendant in a case is to blame, even partly for an injury incurred to someone, then they contributed to the injury. In other words, the injury would not have happened if the defendant hadn’t contributed to it some way. Nearly every other state assigns a percentage of blame that modifies the settlement figure, but in South Dakota, that blame could be used as a reason for dismissing your case entirely.”


“Obviously, there’s a number of folks out there that are interested in moving South Dakota toward a full comparative fault system,” he continued, “but so long as the law is on the books and that’s the way it works, we have to work with it.”


“The problem is that a law like this is not enforced consistently. One jury may find that if the defendant’s contributory negligence exceeds the plaintiffs, that the case should move forward. Another jury may determine that if the plaintiff has any contributory negligence, the plaintiff should be awarded nothing. It all ends up boiling down to the quality of your lawyer.”

Crimes versus Torts (What is a tort?)

In our system of law, there are civil actions and criminal actions that can be litigated in court.   In a criminal case, a defendant is one who has committed an offense against the laws of the State, which were enacted to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people.  Criminal law focuses on punishment.  When a person commits a crime, he or she is either immediately arrested or a warrant is issued for his or her arrest.  A bond is then set either administratively or by a judge and the person is incarcerated until trial or released on that bond promising to appear.  A person is considered innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his or her peers by a unanimous decision.  The standard for a guilty verdict is beyond a reasonable doubt.  Once convicted, a criminal will be sentenced by a judge to a term of imprisonment and/or probation, or fined as punishment for their crime.

In contrast to criminal law, a civil tort action involves a private plaintiff-victim seeking compensation (usually money) for the harm caused by another’s actions or failure to act.    In a civil tort action the injured plaintiff must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence (by the greater convincing force) rather than the much more burdensome criminal law standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Most civil tort actions involve personal injury cases based on negligence.  Negligence is a harm caused by the failure to exercise the appropriate level of care in a particular circumstance.  In South Dakota there are four elements to negligence.  There is a duty of due care, then a breach of that duty, legal causation, and damages due to that breach of duty of due care.  Also, in South Dakota there is a comparative negligence statute, meaning that if the injured party were to be partially at fault, that injured party’s damages may be reduced by that injured party’s contributory negligence or percentage of fault.  In South Dakota an injured party’s recovery may be barred if that injured party’s contributory negligence is more than slight in comparison to the negligence of the defendant(s)

Other types of civil torts include intentional torts such as assault, battery, trespass, conversion and false imprisonment.  Many intentional torts are also crimes.    In those cases, in addition to receiving compensatory damages, if the prevailing injured plaintiff can further prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant-tortfeasor is guilty of fraud, oppression or malice, then the injured plaintiff may also be entitled to an award of punitive or exemplary damages to punish the defendant-tortfeasor.

If you believe that you have been injured as a result of the negligence, crime, or liability of another contact the experienced lawyers at Wilka & Welter, LLP for a no charge review of your tort case.  You may be entitled to compensation for your loss.