Questions We Are Asked Each Week By Clients...
We are often asked questions like how much should the insurance company pay? How are my weekly benefits calculated?, etc. So we have put together some of the questions we here the most and the answers to them. We hope this helps you avoid making a mistake in your Iowa personal injury, car accident, dog bite, work injury or other injury matter.
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If the company doctor recommends surgery, do I have to have it?
No, You have the right to refuse any medical procedures or care that you do not want. However, please keep in mind that not proceeding with surgery may have an impact upon your case.
Does my medical care end when the doctor releases me from treatment?
No, your employer and/or their insurance company are responsible for paying for all medical care necessary to treat your work related injury, however as stated above they will choose your medical providers. This includes all forms of care and treatment, whether hospital, medical, therapy, nursing, diagnostic testing, surgery, physical rehabilitation or pain management. The right to medical care and treatment may continue for the rest of your life for conditions related to your work injury or occupational disease.
Do I have the right to a 2nd opinion?
Yes. Under Iowa law once the company doctors have said that you are as good as you will get, you have reached MMI, you have the right to have an independent medical examination performed by a doctor of your own choosing for an impairment rating and permanent restrictions. There are many doctors who specialize in giving second opinions in workers’ compensation cases
Can my employer fire me after my work injury?
Under Iowa law your employer is not supposed to fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, you can be terminated for other reasons such as absences, work problems, etc. Also, subject to some exceptions (for example if you are a union member) generally your employer does not have to find you work if you are unable to return to your old job because of restrictions.
What if I leave the job where I was hurt?
Leaving your job where you were hurt does not end your workers’ compensation claim. Just because you may be receiving workers’ compensation benefits, does not mean that you have to remain employed with the same employer. However, leaving your job while you are still being treated may impact your case and the compensation that you receive.
Am I entitled to cash payments if I am unable to work?
Yes. While you are healing and unable to work, you will receive cash payments to replace your usual earnings. The amount of your payment is based upon your earnings prior to your work injury.
Once I am done treating, if I dont make a full recovery does my case end?
No. If your work injury causes a permanent injury (meaning that you are not back to 100%), then you should receive compensation for your disability. The amount owed is determined by the nature of your injury (ie. hand, back, neck, shoulder, etc.), your earnings prior to your work injury, your impairment rating, and other several other factors.
What is a permanent impairment rating?
This is a number that is assigned to your injury usually based upon the AMA Guides to Permanent Impairment which is a book written by a group of doctors from throughout the country. If you have a scheduled member injury (hand, arm, leg, foot, eye, hearing loss) then generally the impairment rating is the main factor in determining the amount of money you receive for your permanent disability. Whereas, if you sustained an unscheduled member injury (back, neck, shoulder, brain, mental health, nerve injuries such as CRPS- Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome or RSD- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or respiratory and circulation injuries like occupational asthma or Reynaud’s syndrome) then your impairment rating is only one of many factors including your ability to work, lifting and activity restrictions, lost wages, etc. There is a significant difference in the amount of compensation you are suppose to receive between a scheduled member and unscheduled member injury.
If I Do Not Agree with the Company Doctors Impairment Rating What Can I Do?
At some point in your treatment the doctors will say that you will not make further improvement, also known as reaching MMI- maximum medical improvement. At that point the doctor should determine your permanent impairment rating. If you disagree with the impairment rating, under Iowa Code § 85.39 you have the right to have an IME- independent medical examination. The IME will be conducted by a doctor that you choose who will provide his/her opinions concerning your permanent impairment rating and restrictions. There are several doctors that I can recommend depending on the nature of your injury.
Do all Attorneys who Advertise that They Handle Workers Compensation cases have the same skills, tools and experience to handle your case?
No. Any Iowa attorney can advertise they handle workers’ compensation cases even if they have never represented a single injured worker. One thing to look for is if the attorney advertises “practicing primarily in workers’ compensation”. If the attorney advertises “practicing primarily in workers’ compensation” then the attorney completes a minimum of 15 hours of CLE- continuing legal education hours per year involving workers’ compensation and spends at least 40% of their time practicing workers’ compensation law. Another thing is to ask the attorney for a list of some of the cases they have handled, results they have obtained for their clients and testimonials from former workers’ compensation clients to find-out the attorney’s track record.