Iowa workers are mostly very loyal to their employers and do not want to hurt the company by filing a workers’ comp claim. First, failing to properly and timely file a claim can result in you receiving no compensation and could also result in you losing your job and having no way to get compensation for your injuries. Companies pay insurance premiums so that their workers are covered and filing a claim will likely not cost them any money out of their pocket.
Yes, it is possible that if they have numerous claims that their insurance premiums could go up in the future. However, keep in mind that Iowa workers’ compensation premiums have been steadily declining every year since 2015 and premiums are about 30% less than they were 7 years ago. Further, the number of work injury claims reported each year have been steadily declining since 2007. Has your employer increased your wages every year their workers’ compensation premiums have dropped? Here are 5 other things to keep in mind when considering if you will hurt your company by filing a workers comp claim:
1. Rights Employees Have Given Up
Also, when the Iowa workers’ compensation law was passed in 1913, injured workers gave up the right to sue their employer and their exclusive remedy against their employer became the workers’ compensation system. This means even if your employer negligently injured you that you are stuck in the workers’ compensation system which provides no compensation for pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, spousal losses, etc. The Iowa workers’ compensation system only provides medical care at the discretion of your employer or their insurance company, weekly benefits when you are not able to work and limited compensation for permanent injury depending upon many different factors explained in numerous other articles on our webpage. There is a very limited exception for the gross negligence of a co-employee, but you are still not allowed to sue your employer directly for a work injury.
2. Employment at will
Iowa law provides that you are an employee at will, unless you are under a union contract, also known as a collective bargaining agreement, which can provide limited protections. If you are not a union member, your employer can fire you while you are off work treating your injuries. If you have worked there long enough and have worked enough hours, then you may be protected by FMLA (family medical leave act) which provides up to 12 weeks per corporate year for leave. Keep in mind that FMLA leave is not paid, and you will only be paid if you are receiving workers comp or another source like short-term disability or A & S (accident and sickness)
3. Permanent work restrictions
If you end up with a permanent injury with permanent work restrictions caused by your work injury, then your employer is not required to provide you with a job and accommodate those restrictions. If your employer is large enough then they may be subject to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) which may provide some protection and may provide you with compensation if it has been violated often many years from your date of termination. If you don’t end up filing your claim under workers’ compensation it can make your potential ADA or other possible employment law claim more difficult to succeed.
4. Do not lie
It is unfortunate but we have talked to dozens of injured workers over the years who were convinced by their employer to lie to their doctors and tell them they were hurt at home or somewhere else besides work. Lying is not only a bad idea, but if you end up with permanent work restrictions and then are fired by your employer and decide you want to bring a work injury claim, then it is going to be difficult to deal with what your medical records say. Your doctors are not likely to change their causation opinions based upon what you are now telling them happened. The insurance company and their lawyers will accuse you of lying now because you are upset that you were terminated. Also, you could be accused of fraud by trying to now claim your injury is work-related months after you were hurt. Do you think your employer is going to agree later that they told you to lie about where you were hurt? Do you trust your employer with your future financial life?
5. If you are hurt you should treat your injuries
Sometimes employers will encourage injured workers to not only lie about how they were hurt but also try to tough it out and not get medical care. This is another very bad idea because the longer you wait to get medical care for an injury, the longer it will take for you to get better and the more difficult it will be to prove that your current condition is caused by your work. For example, if you are lifting something at work and experience back pain if your employer convinces you to not report the injury and wait days or weeks to seek medical attention this will not only look bad but will delay your treatment and possibly make your back condition worse. Most employers have policies in effect that you are required to report your work injury within 24 hours. These policies are in place so that if you fail to do so they will try to make you look bad. The insurance adjuster will likely question why you would wait days or weeks to seek medical care for a work injury. This could lead to your claim being denied and you being stuck with no weekly workers comp if you cannot work.
Technically, under Iowa law, you have 90 days to report your work injury from when you knew or should have known you were injured. You don’t want to wait that long and should report your work injury immediately and if your employer is reluctant to do so make sure you provide written notice of your injury and keep copies of what you have.
If you have questions or concerns about a work injury and how it may impact your employer, we offer a confidential, no-cost consultation. Just give us a call 641-792-3595 or use our Chat feature by clicking here 24 hours a day/7 days per week.
If you don’t want to speak with an attorney but would like to learn more about Iowa’s workers’ comp laws, then request your copy of our Iowa Workers Comp Book. We offer it at no cost or risk to you because we have seen too many Iowa workers make costly mistakes which resulted in them losing thousands of dollars or sometimes their entire case.