Winnebago Industries claims that safety is a cornerstone principle for their business. While Winnebago would like to have none of its employees injured, requiring production workers to work faster and faster is a recipe for work injuries. Iowa law recognizes what is commonly called “cumulative” work injuries which are work injuries that develop over time often due to overuse. While cumulative injuries can be more difficult to prove than traumatic injuries, they are still compensable injuries under Iowa law. Some Iowa employers and even their workers' compensation insurance companies will tell injured workers that Iowa does not cover cumulative injuries which is false. However, there are some things that injured workers at Winnebago and throughout the state of Iowa should keep in mind such as:
A recent report from the Des Moines Register about an Indianapolis Star investigation on rampant injuries at recreational vehicle factories chronicled harsh working conditions and high injury rates.
1. Report Your Injury in Writing to Your EmployerIowa law requires injured workers to report their injuries within 90 days of when the injured worker knew or should have known that they sustained a work injury. For example, if an injured worker goes to their doctor about a medical condition prior to reporting the injury, if the injured worker and/or their doctor feels that the condition was caused by work, then the injured worker should promptly notify the employer and do so in writing. We have seen far too many cases of supervisors claiming they were never told about a work injury. That is why if you put it in writing and keep a copy there will not be a dispute about notice. Keep in mind that the injured worker needs to specifically state that their job duties at work have caused them to be injured. Also, if the employer has a formal policy in effect to fill out a work injury report, then these procedures should be followed. Failing to properly and timely report a work injury can result in the injured workers receiving no medical care, no lost wages, and no compensation for the work injury.
If you or a loved one have questions or concerns about how, when, and why you should report a work-related injury then you should contact a qualified Iowa workers’ compensation attorney before it is too late, or you make a costly mistake. We offer no-cost work injury consultations for injured Iowa workers. We will take our time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions and give you the best advice for your circumstances all at no cost or risk to you. Also, your information will remain confidential, and we will not contact your employer or their work comp insurance company unless you want us to.
2. Aggravation of Prior Medical ConditionsIowa law also provides that if you had a prior injury that has been aggravated, accelerated, or made worse by your work activities that it should be considered a work injury. However, is very common for employers and their insurance companies to deny cases when someone has a prior medical history of the body part injured at work. It is important that you can explain to your medical providers how your job made your prior condition worse. Also, it is a mistake to try to hide or cover up a prior medical condition because if you have had medical treatment for it, then it will be in your medical records and the insurance company will often obtain those prior medical records before admitting or denying your claim.
Further, if you have specific pain while doing your job, then you should report it as a new traumatic injury as traumatic injuries are often easier to prove than cumulative injuries. For example, if you are lifting something at work and have a sharp pain in your back, then you should report the work injury. Waiting and hoping that it gets better on its own can make your claim more difficult. Also, even if you have not had prior medical treatment for the body part that was injured, workers’ compensation insurance companies often will send an injured worker for an IME (independent medical examination) with a doctor of their choice. As you can imagine, the evaluation will be far from independent, but injured workers are required to attend, or they face their benefits being forfeited under a new law that was passed in 2017 by the Republican-led legislature signed by then Governor Branstad.
3. What if they Deny the Claim?Denying Iowa workers’ compensation claims has become increasingly more common since the 20-plus law changes that were passed in 2017 all of which were bad for injured workers. Keep in mind that just because the insurance company denies your claim, does not mean that your is over. However, Iowa law does have strict time guidelines to bring claims so injured workers should not delay. The good news is that even after a denial so long as the injured worker has health insurance Iowa law says that the health insurance company is required to pay after a written workers’ compensation denial. The same thing is true about other benefits that you may have such as STD (short-term disability) or A & S (accident and sickness) benefits. If you don’t know if you have these benefits available, then you should contact your human resources department to find out. Finally, if a claim is denied, then the injured worker should contact a qualified Iowa workers’ compensation attorney to see if it makes sense to file a petition or let it go and use their health insurance. Our Iowa workers’ compensation attorneys speak with injured workers at no cost or risk. We answer questions, give advice, and make recommendations all confidentially. We do not contact employers or insurance companies unless we have approval from our clients. Some of the factors that work injury attorneys will consider are:
a. Will the injured worker miss work?
b. What type of medical care and treatment is required?
c. Is the injured worker able to return to the same job making the same amount of money?
d. Are the injuries permanent?
e. What, if any, permanent work restrictions does the worker have?
f. Have they sustained a scheduled member or industrial injury?
g. If they sustained a scheduled member injury, have they previously sustained a different scheduled member injury qualifying them for the Iowa Second Injury Fund?
This is just a partial list of things you need to know and the factors that attorneys look at to determine how you should best move forward with your work comp. claim. If you have questions and would like to speak with our workers’ compensation team, then call 641-792-3595 , Contact us online, or Chat Here Now 24 hours a day/7 days per week. There is no cost or obligation, and your information will remain confidential. If one of our attorneys is not available, then you can schedule an appointment right away.
If you just want more information and are not ready to speak with an attorney, then you should request a copy of our Iowa Work Injury Book which we offer to injured workers at no cost or risk because we have seen hundreds of injured Iowa workers make costly mistakes before they knew about their rights and obligations under Iowa law.
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