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Workers’ Compensation

If you are injured at the workplace in Iowa, you are eligible for workers’ compensation. Under Iowa law, nearly all workers can file for workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, there are even circumstances that if you were injured outside of the state on work business, you will still be eligible for Iowa Workers’ Compensation coverage.

While there are a few classifications of workers who will not be able to receive workers’ compensation, it is likely that if you are employed, and you were injured while on the job, you will be able to successfully file an Iowa workers’ compensation claim. The Iowa workers’ compensation lawyers at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC can successfully fight for your rights while allowing you to focus on your recovery. Contact our law firm today to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney.

Federal and State Workers’ Compensation Laws

Workers’ compensation is governed by both federal and state law. The U.S Department of Labor is the government agency that offers an Office of Workers’ Compensation Program. Through this problem, compensation is provided in four ways:

  • Medical treatment
  • Other benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Permanent Injury benefits
  • Wage replacement benefits

Additionally, there are other federal programs through the DOL that provide coverage, including:

The Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to Iowa workers who have been injured while on the job. This part of the Iowa Code provides coverage to individuals based on what their injury is, how it was sustained, and where it was sustained. Code provisions provide different coverage based on:

Workers are eligible for benefits under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act regardless of who is at fault. Workers’ compensation benefits are generally the only remedy available to employees against an employer.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Injured Workers in Iowa

You should inform your employer as quickly as possible about your injury and, if required, get medical treatment. You must notify your employer within ninety (90) days of the workplace accident to ensure that you will be entitled to benefits if you file a workers’ compensation claim.

After alerting your employer, your employer is expected to prepare a written report of injury, as well as a medical verification of injury, to be provided to the insurance company. Within four (4) days of receiving notice of an alleged injury, your employer is required to complete and file the first report of injury form with the workers’ compensation agency.

Workers’ compensation payments are available to most employees who are injured while working in Iowa, whether on a contract or because their primary job is located in the state.

If you, your employer, or your employer’s insurance provider have a disagreement, any of the parties can file a contested case with a workers’ compensation office. Other solutions may be available and should be investigated before filing a contested case. You should consult your local office of workers’ compensation for further details.

It is your responsibility to contact the workers’ compensation commissioner if you do not receive payments on a regular basis or are dissatisfied with the payment of benefits. You may lose your entitlement to benefits if you have not received benefits or submitted an application to resolve the dispute. All other claims must be submitted with the workers’ compensation commissioner within two (2) years of the date of the workplace accident or injury.

What Can You Recover in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, employees can generally receive two types of benefits:

  • Medical Benefits: This includes benefits paid for all reasonably necessary medical expenses in connection with the treatment of your injury. This can even include the cost of necessary transportation.
  • Disability Benefits: These benefits are to replace lost wages for not being able to work due to a temporary or permanent disability. This type of payment cannot exceed 80% of your weekly spendable earnings. Spendable earnings are defined as the amount left over after payroll taxes are deducted from gross weekly earnings. The amount of wage replacement benefit you are eligible for is mostly determined by the severity of your ailment and the amount of money you earned in the previous year.

Temporary Total Disability: If you miss more than three days of work due to an injury, you may be eligible for wage replacement benefits beginning on the fourth day. Unless your disability lasts longer than fourteen days, you will not be paid back for the first three days missed.

Temporary Partial Disability: If your injury leaves you impaired or disabled to the point where you can only work a lower-paying job when you return to work, you may be eligible for benefits under this category. These benefits will cover around two-thirds (67%) of the wage gap between your previous and present positions.

Permanent Total Disability: If you are unable to return to work, you will receive full workers’ comp benefits.

Permanent Partial Disability: When an injury results in a permanent disability, benefits are awarded. The amount of benefits will be determined by the severity of the permanent disability, the body part injured and the potentially any resulting physical restrictions.

Injured Workers Exempt from Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Under Iowa Workers’ Compensation Provision 85.1, there are certain individuals who do not meet the requirement for workers’ compensation eligibility. There are ten (10) categories of workers classified under this provision:

  1. Domestic and casual workers who earned less than $1,500 from their employer in the 12 months preceding the workplace accident that caused their injuries.
  2. Employees in the agricultural industry who had a cash payroll of less than $2,500 in the calendar year prior to the injury.
  3. Employer’s spouse, parents, brothers, sisters, children, and stepchildren of either the employer or the employer’s spouse, as well as the spouses of the brothers, sisters, children, and stepchildren of either the employer or the employer’s spouse.
  4. Exchange labor in employment in the agricultural industry.
  5. The president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer of a family farm corporation as well as their wives and the executives’ parents, siblings, sisters, children, stepchildren, and spouses.
  6. Police officers and firefighters who are eligible for payments under the Iowa Code chapters 410 and 411 pension fund.
  7. A proprietor or partner who devotes a considerable portion of his or her time to the proprietor’s or partner’s business.
  8. A corporation’s president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and up to four executives per corporation (other than a family farm corporation) may elect not to be covered by the workers’ compensation statute. A “rejection of workers’ compensation or employer’s liability coverage” (available from the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner’s office) must be completed in order for the rejection of coverage to be legitimate.
  9. Employees who are entitled to benefits under any liability or compensation rule imposed by the United States Congress for employees.
  10. Members of a limited liability company.

Additionally, in most circumstances, independent contractors will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Though, some independent contractors can elect to make a formal petition to be covered under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act, this does not guarantee they will be eligible to receive benefits. But this process is their only opportunity to be covered by workers’ compensation benefits. Unlike employees, independent contractors can bring a lawsuit against their employer if they are injured while performing anything within their scope of work.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Overview

Iowa Code Chapter 85.27 mandates that any reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred to treat the work-related injuries be reimbursed. This also covers the cost of transportation. Mileage for the use of a personal vehicle is paid at a rate determined by Iowa. At present this amount is 56 cents per mile.

Additionally, an employee who is forced to leave work for medical treatment may be eligible for compensation for missed income in certain circumstances, especially if it is longer than any paid break.

The employer must offer medical care that adequately treats the employee’s injury, and the employer has the right to select the medical care. If an employee is dissatisfied with the care provided, he or she should speak with their employer or employer’s insurance company about it. In some circumstances, an employee may want to request alternative care. If the employer or insurance carrier refuses to authorize substitute care, the employee may apply to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner for alternate medical care (through an appropriate appeal proceedings).

If an employee has a permanent partial impairment in one hand, arm, foot, leg, or eye and then suffers a permanent partial disability as a result of a work-related accident to another one of these body parts, the employee may be eligible for compensation from the “Second Injury Fund.” The payments are limited to the amount of the permanent disability that is greater than the combined value of the two affected body parts. The benefits are not paid until the employer or insurance provider has finished paying the second permanent partial disability benefit.

Workers’ Compensation Statistics in Iowa

The U.S. Department of Labor Statics reports on all workplace injuries and illnesses throughout the United States. The most recent survey and report released by the DOL found that:

  • There were 34,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported within private industries. This is an incident rate of 3.3/100 for full-time workers. The national average is only 2.7 Iowa is one of 20 states that surpasses the U.S. average.
  • Out of the two sectors (public and private), the private sector was responsible for 56% of the total occupational injuries and illnesses reported. Moreover, private industry workers only make up 34% of the employment in the state of Iowa.
  • There were 6,000 injury and illness cases reported by Iowa state and local government sectors. This is a 4/100 incident rate, which is consistent with the nation’s average of 3.9.
  • 73% of injuries and illnesses reported by the public sector were contributed to government workers.

In the latest reporting year by the DOL, there were 76 fatal injuries across all industries in the state of Iowa. If you have lost a loved one while they were on the job, and you are a dependent, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. Though, the deceased individual must have been fatally wounded during “work-related” or “occupational” activities.

Generally, an employee cannot file a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim against their employer if they are injured on the job. However, one can file a third-party wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one against manufacturers, building owners, vendors, or any third party that is not a direct employer of that person.

Who Pays Workers’ compensation Benefits in Iowa?

The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner’s office is responsible for enforcing the workers’ compensation law, but it does not award benefits.

If the employer obtained an insurance policy, the employer is responsible for paying the premiums, while the insurance company (or adjusting firm) is responsible for paying the injured employee’s workers’ compensation benefits.

If the employer is self-insured, the employer (or adjusting business) pays the injured employee’s workers’ compensation benefits.

Any company that fails to offer insurance coverage for eligible employees as required by law may be liable to an employee for additional workers’ compensation benefits or civil damages under Iowa Code Section 87.21.

Contact the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC

Workers’ compensation benefits may be available if you are injured on the job or acquire a work-related illness. Most companies are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Iowa, but as you can see, getting benefits is not always simple.

If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related injury, you may eligible for certain workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. For legal advice on what to do after a workplace injury, contact the Des Moines workers’ compensation attorneys at the law offices of Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC. We can help file your Iowa workers’ compensation claim in a timely fashion and get you the fair compensation and benefits you are owed.

Contact our law offices in Des Moines, IA, today to schedule a free consultation to get started on your claim with one of our experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyers. Our contact information can be found online, or you can call us at (515) 444-4000