Last Updated: 11/30/2023

Iowa Workers' Compensation Guide written by Iowa Workers Compensation Attorneys Walker Billingsley and BairIowa Law has recognized the needs of its injured workers since 1913.  The law requires every employer to obtain workers' compensation insurance (or be approved as a self-insurer) to cover their workers.  However, even the best employer is not likely to tell you all you need to know.  If you are injured in a work accident or suffer from an occupational disease caused by your work, then Iowa law says that you have 10 basic rights which we will share the first 5 with you here:   

1. Lifelong Medical Care

Your employer and/or their insurance company are responsible for paying for all medical care necessary to treat your work related injury.  This includes all forms of care and treatment, whether hospital, medical, therapy, nursing, diagnostic testing, surgery, physical rehabilitation or pain management.  However, generally your employer and/or their insurance company gets to choose your medical providers.  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. 

2. Right to Medical Treatment

You always have the right to seek medical care from any medical provider that you choose.  However, please keep in mind that your employer and/or their insurance carrier will generally only pay for medical care that they have authorized or approved.  Also, if you have health insurance they may reject the claim as being a work related condition.  

3. Payment of Medical Care Including Mileage

  • Medical Expenses:  Generally, your employer and/or their insurance company has to provide you with medical care and treatment.  This includes them paying for all treatment that they offer to you.  However, there are some circumstances that they can be held responsible for paying medical expenses that you incur with medical providers not approved by them.  For example, if your work injury claim has been denied then they lose control over your medical treatment.  If your injury is later determined to be work related then they would be responsible for the costs.  There are other limited circumstances that you can seek medical care with a provider who is not approved and they will be required to pay for it.   
  • Mileage Expenses:  You are entitled to be reimbursed at the rate of $.54 per mile after July 1, 2016 for all mileage you incur going to and from doctors' appointments, physical therapy visits, etc.   


4. Right to Refuse Medical Care

You have the right to refuse any medical procedures or care that you do not want.  For example, if the company doctor recommends surgery you do not have to proceed with surgery.  However, please keep in mind that not proceeding with surgery may have an impact upon your case. 

5. Weekly Benefit Checks While You Recover And Cannot Work

While you are healing and unable to work, you will receive weekly benefit checks to replace your usual earnings.  This applies to both when you are completely unable to work (known as TTD- temporary total disability benefits) and when you return to work, but are working less than 40 hours per week (known as TPD- temporary partial disability benefits).  The amount of your weekly payment is called your "rate" which is discussed below.   

  • Rate:  The amount of your weekly benefit checks, also known as your "weekly benefits", is based upon your average earnings prior to the work injury, known as your AWW- Average Weekly Wage.  If you are paid on an hourly basis, generally your rate will be based upon your average wages for a 13 week period prior to your work injury, excluding short weeks (weeks in which you did not work a full 40 hours).  Your weekly rate is based upon your marital status, your number of exemptions, and your AWW- Average Weekly Wage multiplied times 80% of your spendable weekly earnings.  There are both minimum and maximum rates for permanent disability benefits based upon the statewide average weekly wage.  Our experience is that in about 50% of our cases, the employer/insurance company has underpaid the employee by using a lower weekly rate than what is owed.  That is why in every case it is important to verify that you have been paid the proper rate as it can make thousands of dollars of difference. 

To learn more, including the other 5 Rights and 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work, order your copy of our FREE Book entitled "Iowa Workers' Compensation- An Insider's Guide to Work Injuries".  Why offer a Free Book?  Since 1997, I have represented hundreds of Iowans hurt at work from Des Moines, Ankeny, Newton, Pella, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Oskaloosa, Dubuque, Decorah, Davenport and from throughout the state of Iowa.  I have seen too many clients make mistakes before they had the "right" information resulting in them losing thousands of dollars. Finally, you can learn about work injuries in the comfort of your own home with no risk or obligation.  However, quantities are limited so to learn how to avoid costly mistakes and how to protect your rights click on the work injury book image on this webpage, go to or Call Now 641-792-3595.

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