Iowa Workers' Compensation
Iowa workman's compensation is administered by the Iowa Division of Workers Compensation. Workers comp laws are documented in the Workers' Compensation Act which is part of the Iowa state code. The goal of workers compensation or workman's comp, according to the Workers Compensation Act, is "to provide benefits to employees who receive work injuries, occupational diseases or occupational hearing loss arising out of and during the course of their employment. Workman's compensation benefits are payable regardless of fault and are the exclusive remedy of the employee against their employer".
Iowa workman's compensation does not provide benefits for pre-existing work injuries or diseases unless their employment duties made them worse or aggravated their condition. Workers compensation allows employees to receive immediate medical or wage loss compensation without filing a personal injury claim and proving their employer's negligence contributed to the employee's work injury. The trade-off for the employee is that they receive immediate compensation for their work injury without filing a workers' comp claim and can avoid a lengthy legal court battle.
Work Injuries Covered Under Workers Compensation Law
Iowa workers' comp laws define "work injury" in very broad terms. The work injury must occur during the normal course of employment and may include any physical health impairment that is not part of the "normal building up and tearing down of body tissues". Occupational diseases may also be covered if they were caused by exposure to workplace toxins or from employment activities.
Common work injuries that may be covered include:
- Neck injuries, Back injuries, Carpal Tunnel, Concussions, Heart attacks on the job, Strokes on the job, Amputations, Injuries from inhaling toxic chemicals, Closed head injuries, Paralysis, Burns, Spinal cord injuries, Abrasions, Electrocution, and Puncture wounds
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Work injuries which are not caused by normal business activities or occurred while an employee was engaged in horseplay, travelling to and from work, was intoxicated or was not following company policies may not be covered by Iowa workers' comp law. Talk to an Iowa workers' comp lawyer for more information if you have questions about whether or not your work injury is covered under Iowa workers' comp law.
Do I Need an Iowa Workers' Comp Attorney?
Iowa work comp attorneys process workman's compensation claims each day for hundreds of employees across the state of Iowa. Not all employees who suffer a work injury will need a workers' comp lawyer, but if you have been denied work injury benefits or if you have a severe or permanent work injury it may be help to have a lawyer on your side to ensure that you get the workman's compensation benefits you need. Your company will have a group of work comp lawyers working for them.
Iowa Worker's Compensation Benefits
- Medical Benefits - Medical benefits are provided to injured employees to cover the expenses of all "reasonable and necessary medical care". Common medical benefits can include transportation costs, doctor's visits, hospital stays, medical supplies, laboratory tests and prescription medications. Medical decisions are made by the employer. Under some conditions, if the employee is unsatisfied with their care, they may have the opportunity to request changes. If the employer does not allow changes for the employee's care, the employee may appeal to the workers' compensation commissioner.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD) - Temporary total disability benefits may be provided to injured employees who have missed more than 3 calendar days of work due to their disability. TTD benefits may continue until the employee is able to return to work or is able to find suitable employment given their current medical condition. If the employee's physical impairment exceeds 14 days then the first three days of missed work may be compensated. Temporary total disability benefit payments are calculated as a percentage of the employee's wage. Effective July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, the TTD maximum weekly rate is $1,420.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD) - Temporary partial disability benefits are available to injured employees who are able to return to work, but due to their injury, are unable to make the same wage. The temporary total disability benefit amount is 66 2/3% of the difference between the employee's average gross weekly earnings when they were injured and the employee's current earnings. There is also a three day waiting period before employees are given TPD benefits.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD) - Permanent partial disability payments are paid based on the functional impairment the employee suffers. There is a schedule that lists the type of work injury, the body part and the number of weeks that workman's compensation will be paid for each body part. The greater the loss, the more workman's compensation the employee will be paid. These types of work injuries are called scheduled disabilities.
Permanent partial disability can also be paid for injuries that are not listed on the schedule. These work injuries are called unscheduled disabilities, and the compensation amount will reflect the limitation of the person's earning capacity. Other factors which can influence the payment amount also include: the health of the employee prior to the work injury, the employee's medical condition prior to the work injury, the type and severity of the work injury and the ability of the employee to rehabilitate given their age, education, and impairment.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) - Permanent total disability is paid if a worker is able to return to any type of employment after an Iowa work injury. Employees may receive permanent total disability benefits as long as they are unable to work any type of job and are considered 100% disabled.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits - Rehabilitation services and benefits may be obtained through the Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). The DVRS may include a variety of services to help injured employees obtain and prepare for different types of employment which may help them find suitable employment given their physical disabilities. Vocational rehabilitation benefits may include a payment for a certain number of weeks for those employees who are part of the Iowa's vocational rehabilitation program.
- Death Benefits - Iowa workers' compensation may provide death benefits to surviving dependents of workers who have died from an Iowa work injury. Death benefits may also be paid to the deceased employee's surviving spouse. Death benefits are available until the spouse remarries or dies. Dependent children may also receive death benefits until they are 18 years old (extended benefits may be provided to children who are attending school). Burial expenses are also provided up to a state maximum limit (currently $7,500).