Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation System Myths and Mysteries Revealed

In 1913, the Iowa Legislature passed the law creating Iowa’s workers’ compensation system.  When the law was passed, there was a trade-off made between employers and employees.  For example, while an employee does not have to prove fault or negligence like they would in a car accident or personal injury case the trade-off is that the employee’s damages are limited. 

Do I Receive Compensation for My Pain and Suffering?  The general answer is no.  In Iowa workers’ compensation cases, an employee is generally not allowed to recover pain and suffering or loss of quality of life damages against the employer.  The exception to this rule is if you can prove that a co-employee committed “gross negligence”.  Also, if you were injured by someone who does not work for your employer or if a defective product caused your injuries then you may be entitled to additional damages.  You should consult an attorney to find out if your case meets one of these criteria. 

How Should I Best Deal With the Insurance Adjustor?  Another misconception that some injured workers have is that the insurance adjustor is there to help you with your work injury case.  The insurance adjustor works for your employer and/or their insurance company and has no duty to protect your rights or even tell you what the law is.  Also, sometimes a nurse or medical case manager will be assigned to your case.  The nurse will come to your appointments, talk to your doctors and often act like they are your friend.  Keep in mind that they also are working for your employer and/or their insurance company so be careful what you tell them.  They are trained to find things in your past medical treatment and try to use those things against you in your work injury case.  While honesty is always the best policy that does not mean you should tell them your whole life story.  Along the same lines, often people think that they have to let the medical case manager into the examination room.  The answer is no, you do not have to let them in during the examination.  However, under Iowa law they can speak with your doctors and other medical providers when you are not present. 

Can Any Iowa Attorney Properly Handle My Workers' Compensation Case?   Any Iowa attorney can advertise that they handle workers’ compensation cases even though they may have never handled a single case.  What you need to look for is an attorney who actually represents injured workers and what their past clients say about their services.  You can look at an independent webpage like www.Avvo.com for this information or look at the attorney's webpage for testimonials and results.  Iowa’s work injury laws are far too complex for someone without knowledge and experience to represent an injured worker.  Only a qualified Iowa workers’ compensation attorney can make sure that your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly in your case.

Ask yourself if you want someone representing you with a proven track record or if you want to take a gamble on the attorney you chose.  If an attorney has obtained good results for past clients and past clients have good things to say, then chances are they are qualified to represent an injured worker.  Whether you live in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Iowa City, Newton, Marshalltown or even outside of the state of Iowa, you should find an experienced Iowa work injury attorney to help you. 

How Is My Attorney Paid?  Clients often wonder how they can afford to hire an attorney to help with their work injury case.  First of all, most qualified Iowa work injury attorneys will provide you with an initial consultation at no cost.  Also, most work injury cases are handled on a contingency fee.  A contingency fee means that if you do not make a recovery then you will not owe any attorney fees.  The attorney being paid is contingent upon you being paid.  As part of the contingency fee, if you are currently receiving weekly benefits then the attorney should not charge you any fee on those benefits.  Also, if the doctor provided by your employer and/or their insurance company (the company doctor) provides you with a permanent impairment rating your attorney should not take a fee on those benefits.  If through the efforts of the attorney you receive more money than the impairment rating given by the company doctor then the attorney will receive a percentage of the additional money you receive.  Attorneys who do not routinely handle workers’ compensation cases will sometimes take a fee when legally they should not.

What Should I Do Now?  If you or a loved one has questions or want help with your work injury case then give us a call.  If one of our attorneys is not immediately available, then ask to schedule a no cost, work injury evaluation.  We usually start with a phone conference and then may schedule an in person appointment at one of our offices throughout the state of Iowa.  So Call Now 641-792-3595.
Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.