Last Updated: 6/20/2024

Iowa is home to more than 20 trucking companies that hire employees from all over the United States and operate in most states. Depending upon what the agreement is between the employer and truck driver along with other factors (where you were physically when hired, how often you work from Iowa, etc.) determines if Iowa has jurisdiction if you are hurt outside of Iowa or not.

Does Iowa Have Subject Matter Jurisdiction for Your Work Injury?

Iowa Code Section 85.71 as amended on July 1, 2017, will determine if your workers’ compensation case can be successfully brought in Iowa or not.

Here are the things to look for in the jurisdiction determination:

1. If you were injured in Iowa while working

Iowa Code § 85.3(2) provides subject matter jurisdiction for "any and all personal injuries sustained by an employee arising out of and in the course of such employment within this state."

2. Does your employer have a place of business in Iowa, where you work under a contract of hire that states your workers' compensation claims be governed by Iowa law and do you regularly work in Iowa?

There are trucking companies in Iowa that prefer to deal with work injuries under Iowa law only so they enter into a contract giving Iowa jurisdiction over work injuries regardless of where they occur.

Some of these trucking companies include TMC/Annette Holdings, Barr-Nunn, etc. It is important to check the language of the contract that you entered with your truck company employer to determine if you meet this requirement.

3. Does your employer have a place of business in Iowa and you regularly work at or from that place of business? Even if you did not sign a contract stating Iowa has jurisdiction?

One of the biggest issues in these cases is what “regularly work at or from” the Iowa business means. Regularly working from has been defined by our Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner to not require a majority of the time be spent in Iowa but rather, “if it is usual or customary for the employee to work out of the employer's terminal in this state as the home terminal, pick up loads in this state and transport loads within or through this state.

There is not a statutory requirement to meet some unspecified, arbitrarily determined quantity of work while in this state.” Allen v. Annett Holdings, Inc., File No. 5004381 (App. Dec. 9/29/2005.

4. Was your contract of hire made in Iowa and do you regularly work in Iowa?

This has been interpreted to mean where you were physically at when you agreed to become employed by the trucking company. Therefore, if you were in Iowa when you accepted the job offer. You should be okay if you regularly work in Iowa.

However, if you were on the phone in another state when you accepted the offer of employment, likely, Iowa does not likely have jurisdiction under this section of 85.71.

5. Was your contract of hire made in Iowa and do you have no remedy under the workers’ compensation laws of another state?

Sometimes we see this because some states do not allow subject matter jurisdiction even if you were injured in the state because you work for an employer located in another state.

Often this is because some states have a workers’ compensation system where the state acts as the insurance company. If your employer is from another state and did not pay into the system there may be no subject matter jurisdiction.


Note: The reason that the subject matter jurisdiction is so important is because your employer can raise this issue at any time including after your trial is over and your case is on appeal. If the Courts determine that Iowa does not have jurisdiction and you have not timely filed a workers’ compensation claim in another state that does have subject matter jurisdiction then you could be left with no compensation for your work injuries.

This is not something you want to wait and see on because even if your employer admits it is an Iowa case in the beginning, later they can take another position leaving you with no compensation.

It is very important that you hire an Iowa workers’ compensation attorney who is experienced with Iowa subject matter jurisdiction laws and has a network of work injury attorneys in other states to assist in the case.

Our office has represented hundreds of truck drivers where subject matter jurisdiction is a big issue in their cases. Sometimes, we obtained an affidavit from an attorney in another state that they have no jurisdiction, and other times we have referred the truck driver to an attorney in the state where they were injured which does have jurisdiction.

These cases can be quite complicated and time limitations can be as short as 1 year in some states to file a petition for benefits.

If you are a truck driver or other worker injured outside the state of Iowa, who is being paid under Iowa’s workers' compensation system you should call our office so we can help you determine if Iowa is the proper state to bring your work injury claims or not.

Waiting and hoping that your work injury claim will work out is a bad idea as you may end up learning after it is too late that Iowa does not have jurisdiction over your work injury.


If you are not ready to contact an Iowa work injury attorney about jurisdiction but would like more information about then request a copy of Iowa Workers’ Compensation Guide- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries.

Our book includes the Iowa Injured Workers’ Bill of Rights and much more. We offer our book at no cost to you because we have seen too many hardworking medical providers and other Iowa workers get taken advantage of by greedy insurance companies. There is no risk and your information will remain confidential so claim your copy now before you make a costly mistake in your work injury case. Finally, you can learn about Iowa work injury laws in the comfort of your own home.

If you need immediate assistance, call us at 641-792-3595 (phones are answered 24/7) or fill out a contact us form here

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