This unfortunately is a common problem that injured workers in Iowa face and there are a couple of things to do. First, make sure that you have provided notice to your employer about your work injury. Under Iowa law, you have 90 days from when you knew or should have known that your condition was work-related to report the injury. However, it is best practice to report it immediately in writing. Sometimes, your employer will have an injury report for you to complete, but if not make sure you write down in a letter to your employer generally how you were injured, the date of injury, your injuries, and that you are requesting medical care. You can deliver this in person to the HR- human resources department, your supervisor, another management person, and/or by certified mail return receipt requested. You should keep a copy of this letter and document who, when, and where you delivered it to your employer.
If you have reported the injury and your employer refuses to turn it into their workers' compensation insurance company and/or will not tell you who their insurance company is with then you may have to take things into your own hands. Iowa Workforce has a webpage where you can go to determine who the insurance company is for your employer: Click on the NCCI Employers' Workers' Compensation Coverage Verification Database. You will need to accept their conditions and then select Iowa, put in your date of injury, and type the name of your employer. You should use the name that is on your pay-checks or direct deposit as many companies use a different dba (doing business as) compared to the actual employer.
Once you know who their insurance company is then you can search online for the insurance company and how to report a claim. Often, the insurance company will be a little surprised and your employer may be upset that you reported the work injury, but if you want to proceed with a workers compensation claim including medical care for your work injury and other potential benefits including temporary and permanent disability checks then this may be something you want to pursue.
Another option would be to contact a qualified Iowa workers compensation attorney to assist you with this process and to make sure your rights are protected. We are willing to discuss your work injury at no cost or risk and will provide you with a 30-minute work injury review just call (641) 792-3595.
Reporting your work injury and proceeding with the claims process is just the beginning of the Iowa work comp process. There are many other things to consider such as:
1. Do I have to go to the doctors that the insurance company wants me to?
Generally, yes if you want them to pay for medical care and treatment. You are always free to seek treatment on your own, but the workers' compensation insurance company and your employer may simply ignore what your personal doctors say and rely upon what their doctors say. There is a limited exception to this rule for what is called alternative medical care which is a very detailed process in which the proper steps have to be taken or the care will not be switched. We cover this topic in much more detail in our book ((*hyperlink to https://www.iowainjured.com/reports/iowa-workers-compensation-an-insiders-guide-to-work-injuries-7-deadly-mistakes-to-avoid-if-you-a.cfm) we offer at no cost described further below.
Also, if you are asked by the insurance adjuster to attend an 85.39 examination, if you refuse to go then your weekly benefits will likely be forfeited during the time period until you see the doctor for the 85.39 examination.
2. Do I have the right to a 2nd opinion?
You always have a right to a second opinion if you are the one who will be paying for it. If you want the insurance company to pay then you have to wait until you receive your functional impairment rating to have your 2nd opinion paid for by the insurance company. Then, if you were injured after July 1, 2017, chances are that the insurance company will only pay for the impairment rating portion of your second opinion which could leave you owing thousands of dollars. If you are handling your case on your own, make sure you have it in writing how much the insurance company will pay. Also, you should not just go to any doctor for your 2nd opinion. Your 2nd opinion evaluation is far too important to see the wrong doctor who could make your case worse. We have several Board Certified Occupational medicine physicians that we can recommend so you do not end up with a bad doctor for your 2nd opinion.
3. Can my employer fire me while I am off work because of a work injury?
Most likely, yes. Under Iowa law, you are an employee at will which means you can be fired for any reason or no reason whatsoever. If you have been fired and you are a union member then you should immediately contact your union steward so that you can file a grievance and try to get your job back. If you are not part of a union, then you may have a claim for additional workers' compensation benefits, an unemployment claim, and/or an employment law claim under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), etc. You will want to promptly contact an attorney who handles both workers' compensation and employment law matters. Our attorneys can assist you in navigating the somewhat complicated area involving termination after a work injury. We will talk to you at no cost or risk, answer your questions and give you our thoughts on your situation so Call Now (641) 792-3595.
For more detailed answers to the above questions and much more request a copy of our book “Iowa Workers’ Compensation- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includes 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work and the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights. We offer the book at no cost or risk to injured workers in Iowa because we have seen firsthand injured workers make costly mistakes before they knew about their rights and obligations. Finally, you can read about Iowa's workers' compensation laws in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. If you, a loved one, friend or co-worker have questions about an Iowa work comp claim feel free to give us a call at (641) 792-3595. There is no cost or risk and everything you tell us will remain confidential.