Last Updated: 11/9/2023
Amazon has rapidly been building warehouses and hiring workers to work in them. They also continue to hire many Iowans to deliver goods. Recently, a coalition of labor unions called Strategic Organizing Center found that 33% of all warehouse workers in the United States work for Amazon and that these workers sustain 49% of all the injuries for warehouse workers.
In 2021 there were a total of 38,334 work injuries in Amazon facilities. Almost 90% of those injuries were considered serious in that the injured worker had to miss work because of the injuries. This is a rate of 6.8 serious injuries for every 100 warehouse workers which is almost twice the rate of other warehouses which have 3.5 serious injuries per 100 warehouse workers.
What does this mean to you if you or a loved one have been injured while working for Amazon? On the surface, it seems that Amazon may not take care of their workers like other companies do. It could mean that the working conditions are not safe causing traumatic injuries like falls or that workers are required to do too much work too quickly causing cumulative injuries to hands, arms, legs, shoulders, and the back.
If Amazon does not care enough about their workers to help prevent injuries, will they care enough about them when they get hurt at work? In our experience helping workers injured at Amazon the answer is “no”. Injured workers are often treated like a broken tool to be thrown away.
Here are a few things to consider if you are being treated fairly or not.
1. Your medical care is being provided timely and recommended testing, physical therapy, referrals, and other medical care are provided without undue delay.
Unfortunately, often we receive calls from injured workers in Iowa that they have been waiting weeks or even months for an MRI or a referral to another doctor. This is not right and there is a process called alternative medical care that may speed the process up. You can call our office at no risk or cost to discuss (641-217-6449) if you have a valid claim for alternative medical care or if you are not ready to call an attorney yet, then Click Here to get your of our Iowa Workers’ Compensation book (which includes the Iowa injured workers bill of rights and much more) which is available at no cost to you. Your information will remain confidential.
2. You have been taken off work by the company doctor or given restrictions that Amazon will not accommodate, and you are receiving a timely weekly workers’ compensation check.
Too often we receive calls from injured workers who are receiving their weekly workers’ compensation checks late or worse yet not coming at all. If you have been hurt at work and the doctor that they send you to takes you off work, then you should receive weekly workers’ compensation checks until you are either able to return to work or reach MMI (maximum medical improvement). Also, if you are able to work, but have restrictions that Amazon will not accommodate and let you come back to work then you should also be receiving weekly checks. If your checks are late or not coming at all then it is probably time to get some help with your work comp. case. We offer injured workers a free comprehensive workers’ compensation consultation and evaluation. (641-217-6449)
3. The doctors selected by Amazon, or their insurance company are providing you with good medical care and you are happy with the progress you are making.
Iowa allows employers and their insurance company to choose your doctors and other medical providers under most circumstances. However, if your feel that your medical care and treatment are below expectations then it is possible under some circumstances to transfer that care to a doctor of your choice.
For example, if the company doctors say we have nothing more to offer you and you go to another doctor who thinks a surgery or other medical care would be beneficial then it may be possible to switch your medical care to the new doctor. However, this is not an easy process because the insurance company wants to keep control of your medical care and there are very specific steps that have to be followed or it will not work.
If you would like to learn more about how medical care works in an Iowa workers compensation case call our office and one of our experienced workers comp attorneys will talk to you at no cost and your information will remain confidential. If you would like to learn more information without talking to an attorney, then request a copy of our Iowa Workers Compensation book (which includes how you can avoid 7 costly mistakes) that we offer at no cost. Click Here Your information will remain confidential.
4. You are done with your medical treatment, have been given a functional impairment rating, and the rating has been without requiring you to sign any settlement documents.
Under Iowa law, when you are done treating with the company doctors (having reached MMI- maximum medical improvement) the insurance company is supposed to ask the company doctor what, if any, permanent functional impairment rating you have.
For example, if you have sustained an injury to your low back which required surgery it is likely that your impairment rating would be at least 10% body as a whole which would provide that the insurance company owes you a minimum of 50 weeks of PPD (permanent partial disability) benefits in addition to what you may have been paid for TTD (temporary total disability) or TPD (temporary partial disability). Keep in mind that some of these benefits will be lump sum with the rest being paid weekly. Don’t fall into the trap that, we will pay you all at once, but you must sign some paperwork. That paperwork you would sign forever releases Amazon and their insurance company of any future liability for medical care, money, etc. In some circumstances, it may make sense to do this, but you should at least talk to an experienced Iowa work comp attorney before deciding what to do.
Body as a whole injury (back, neck, spine, hip, CRPS- complex regional pain syndrome, physical-mental, etc.) are to be compensated based upon a total of 500 weeks of benefits. Therefore, if you have a 10% body as a whole impairment rating caused by your work injury then the insurance company should pay you a minimum 50 weeks of benefits (500 X 10%). Depending upon many other factors which is one of the most important is if your current employer offers you work paying the same or more money, then you may be entitled to 20%, 30%, 40%, or more in industrial disability.
For example, if you end up with permanent work restrictions after a back injury and your employer says they cannot bring you back to work, then your industrial disability maybe 40% or more depending upon factors like your age, education, work experience, if you find a new job and the amount it pays compared to your old job, etc. If you were found to have sustained 40% industrial disability, then you would be owed 200 weeks of benefits. (500 X 40%)
Whereas scheduled member injuries (arm, hand, leg, foot, some shoulder injuries, etc.) are usually paid based upon the impairment rating percentage times the body part injured.
For example, an arm is worth up to 250 weeks and if you have a 5% impairment rating on your arm then you would receive 12.5 weeks (250 X 5%) of PPD benefits at a minimum. However, keep in mind that there are many other things to consider like the Iowa Second Injury Fund and multiple scheduled member injuries which may provide you with additional compensation.
It is important that you do not sign any settlement papers until you have at least spoken to an Iowa work comp attorney who has the experience and can give you some advice. Feel free to call our office for a no-cost work injury evaluation. Your information will remain confidential, and we will take the time to listen to your facts and tell you what we think. Call Now
Note: If you decide to hire us, we will not take a fee on any weekly benefits that you may be receiving currently or on the functional impairment rating given to you by the company doctor so long as it is paid voluntarily by the insurance company. If we are successful in getting you more than what they voluntarily pay, then our fees are a percentage of what we are able to get you. The percentage amount depends on if the case settles, or if there is a trial and appeals.