If you or a loved one have been hurt on the job in Iowa or if your claim is being handled under Iowa law, then you will need to be familiar with the Iowa workers compensation system. Let's start at the very beginning: Just what is a workers' compensation case in Iowa? A workers' compensation case is any type of claim where a person has been injured or killed while on the job. The legal requirement is that the work injury arose out of and in the course of employment. The law does not require that a person is compensated for every work injury. You must prove that you were on the job working when you were injured. However, please keep in mind that there are special exceptions like falling in the employer's parking lot which is also considered a work injury, horseplay which is not considered a work injury, etc.
Under Iowa Law, you need only prove that a work injury caused a material and substantial aggravation of a preexisting condition for it to be considered a work injury. That means just because you have had a prior injury to the same body part, you may still be entitled to benefits.
Also, if you previously sustained a scheduled member injury (arm, leg, etc.), whether or not it was work-related, and then you sustain another scheduled member injury then you may be entitled to additional benefits under the Iowa Second Injury Fund. If you qualify for 2nd Injury Fund benefits then the extent of your permanent disability benefits will be based upon the factors used when determining industrial disability just like a back, shoulder, neck or brain injury.
There are 3 basic types of benefits available to injured workers in Iowa under the workman comp system:
If your case it admitted by the insurance company as being work-related or if you prove your condition is work-related, then you have lifetime medical benefits to treat your work injury. However, if the claim is admitted then the insurance company has the right to choose your medical provider subject to some exceptions. For example, if they designate a treating physician, then generally they are required to pay for the medical care and treatment recommended by the physician including referrals made to other doctors. However, sometimes insurance companies will not follow the rules which is why there is an alternative medical care process available and is explained in our Iowa Workers' Compensation book available at no cost or risk to you.
TTD and HP (healing period)
If you are unable to work due to your work injuries then you should receive a weekly check while you are off work. However, this depends on a few things. Generally, it has to be a doctor that your employer or the insurance company sent you to who took you off work. Also, if the doctor you were sent to says you can return to work with restrictions, then it is your duty to contact your employer and make yourself available to work within the restrictions. If your employer does not have work for you within those restrictions then you would receive weekly Iowa workers' compensation checks. These weekly checks should continue until you are either placed at maximum healing and released from care, or you are able to return to work. If you return to work with restrictions, but are making less money because you are not getting as many hours or working a lower paying job, then you should receive TPD (temporary partial disability) which represents 2/3 of the difference in your wages before you were hurt, your average weekly wage (described on our webpage and in our book), and the wages you are making while working. For example, if your average weekly wages were $750 before the work injury and now you are only making $300 per week, then you would receive your work wages, plus $300 in weekly workers' compensation benefits. ($750 - $300 = $450 X 2/3 = $300).
PPD (permanent partial disability)
The amount of PPD benefits owed are based upon many different factors which are explained in much more detail on our webpage and in our Iowa Workers' compensation book. At some point, the doctors will say that you have healed as much as possible which is also known as a maximum medical improvement (MMI). At that point, your benefits change from temporary to permanent. If your medical condition heals and you are left with no permanent problems, then you probably do not have a claim for permanent disability benefits. If you have a permanent impairment rating and/or permanent restrictions, then you are likely owed permanent disability benefits. You need a workers' compensation lawyer who understands the specialized workers' compensation laws.
For more information, request our Iowa Work Comp. book which reveals the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of Rights. It is available at no cost or risk to you so request your copy now. If you have immediate questions give us a call at (641) 792-3595 to speak with one of our attorneys at no cost. If one of our work comp attorneys is not available, just ask to schedule a no-cost workers compensation evaluation either in person or by phone.