Last Updated: 3/9/2023

The general answer to the question is "no". Workers who are injured on the job may require treatment for the physical pain they suffer as a result of their injury. These treatments may include prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, surgery, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. If you need treatment for pain caused by an injury that happened while you were working, here’s what you know about how workers’ compensation insurance will handle pain treatment.

Why Would You Not Get Pain and Suffering?

Generally, the Iowa workers' compensation system provides 3 times of benefits:

            1. Medical care and treatment including mileage reimbursement to medical providers selected by your employer and/or their insurance company.

            2. A weekly check for the time that the doctors they send you to say you cannot work at all or if you return to work and make less money up until the time that you reach MMI (maximum medical improvement). 

            3. Compensation in the form of money paid either weekly or in a lump-sum depending upon the circumstances if you sustain a permanent work injury.  There are many different ways that compensation is determined, but generally, it depends upon the type of injury you have.  For example, injuries to your shoulder, back, neck, hip, CRPS, mental injuries like depression and anxiety and other conditions are considered unscheduled (aka industrial disability) work injuries.  Whereas, injuries to your hand, arm, leg, foot, eye, ears in the form of hearing loss, fingers and toes are considered scheduled member injuries and are treated much differently.  There are several exceptions to the above such as the 2nd injury fund, if you sustain 3 scheduled member injuries at the same time, etc.

As you see, there is no direct compensation for pain and suffering in a workers compensation claim in Iowa.  However, keep in mind that depending upon how you were injured there could be other claims available to you in which you may recover pain and suffering damages.  For example, if you were working at the time you were involved in a car accident, then you may be able to recover for your pain and suffering against the other driver.  There is also what is called gross negligence against a co-employee which is a high standard, but may provide additional compensation for pain and suffering.

All Medical Benefits Must Be Paid

Workers’ Compensation Law Section 85.27 requires that the employer (or the employer’s insurer) pay for all “reasonable and necessary medical care incurred to treat the injury.” As such, if pain treatment is considered to be a reasonable medical expense in a medical professional’s opinion, then your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is required under law to pay it.

Treatment for pain should be administered for as long as a medical professional recommends it.

Who decides what medical benefits I deserve?

Who gets to determine the medical benefits to which you’re entitled, and what benefits will workers’ compensation insurance pay? In Iowa, your employer has the right to choose your doctor. Workers’ compensation must pay for pain treatment if that doctor believes you require it.

However, the doctor your employer chooses instead may conclude that you do not need any pain treatment for your injury. If this is the case and you feel as though you do require treatment for pain, then you have the right to request alternative care. If your request is not granted, you can apply to the workers’ compensation commissioner.

I’ve been denied pain treatment – what should I do?

If you’re physically suffering as a result of your workplace injury, you have the right to treatment. What’s more, you have the right to have workers’ compensation pay for pain treatment. Because advocating for yourself can be hard, our attorneys are here to help.


Where Can I Find Help if I Have a Workers Compensation Claim?

Iowa Workers' Compensation GuideThere are many things that you should consider and at the very least you should learn about your rights and responsibilities under Iowa's workers compensation laws.  We offer our Iowa Work Injury book at no cost which reveals the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights and much, much more.  We offer our book at no cost because we have seen hardworking Iowans fail to learn about their rights which cost them a lot of heartache and money.  Request your copy now.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.