Employee Hurt on the Job
Workers Compensation is a No Fault System
Iowa and Illinois like most every state, workers' compensation is a benefit system designed to be "no fault," meaning it is irrelevant whether your employer's negligence (carelessness) contributed to your work-related injury or occupational disease. What matters is that you were involved in a workplace injury or suffered an occupational disease in the course of your employment. Additionally, in most circumstances, an employee's own negligence will not prevent that employee from getting workers' compensation benefits. (If you have questions about whether your behavior leading to your work-related injury might preclude your eligibility for a workers' compensation claim, talk to a workers' compensation attorney in your area.)
The no-fault system was designed to protect both workers and employers. It was designed to protect employers from expensive and time-consuming lawsuits, and to protect employees by ensuring medical care and time off benefits.
Recovery is the amount of money or reimbursement for medical treatment that you will receive for your injury. Because of the no-fault system, your recovery is limited. Since you cannot file a lawsuit, you cannot get punitive damages (money awarded to punish your employer). However, workers' compensation benefits can be significant, depending on the state you live in.
Workers' compensation benefits include lost wages, medical bill reimbursement, and disability benefits. Workers' compensation injury benefits may also include death benefits if a worker is killed on the job.
Prompt Notice to Employer is Critical
Worker's compensation lawsuits can be complicated; you should consult a lawyer experienced in worker's compensation and job-related injuries in order to determine the best course of action for receiving the compensation you deserve.
Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in Iowa:
- A workers' compensation claim - a notice of first report to employer - is filed by notifying your employer of your work-related injury. Report the injury you have sustained. The application for benefits is given to the employer.
- The law provides that the employer must have notice or knowledge of an alleged injury within 90 days of its occurrence, if not, benefits may be denied. The 90-day period begins to run when the employee knew, or should have known the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.
- If your employer declines to accept liability, you may call the workers' Compensation Division (1-800-528-5166) and ask to speak to an Examiner.
- You have the right to obtain the services of an attorney to handle the claim in the courts as provided by the law.
- The employer provides medical care reasonably suited to treat the Employer's injury, and has the right to choose the medical care. If the employee is dissatisfied with the care offered, the employee should discuss the problem with the employer or insurance carrier. In certain situations the employee may wish to request alternate care. If the employer, or insurance carrier, does not allow alternate care, the employee (through appropriate proceedings) may apply to the workers' compensation commissioner for alternate medical care.
Iowa Waiting Period:
- The waiting period for compensation benefits after the injury has occurred is 3 days.
- Compensation is retroactive is disability continues for more than 14 days.
Iowa Workers' Compensation Benefits:
- Full medical benefits are provided to employees entitled to worker's compensation benefits, with no time or monetary limits. The employer selects the physician who will provide care.
- Payments are made for temporary total disability (TTD) as follows: When an injury results in more than three calendar days of disability, the employee may be entitled to TTD benefits beginning on the fourth day and continuing until the employee has returned to work or is medically capable of returning to substantially similar employment, whichever occurs first. The three-day waiting period becomes payable if the disability period exceeds fourteen calendar days.
- Payments are made for permanent total disability (TPD) as follows: TPD benefits may be payable if the employee returns to work at a lesser paying job, because of the injury. The TPD benefit amount is to be 66 2/3% of the difference between the Employer's average gross weekly earnings at the time of the injury and the Employer's actual earnings while temporarily working at the lesser paying job. The three-day waiting period (explained above) also applies to TPD
- Payments for permanent partial disability (PPD) are made based upon a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Depending upon the nature of the disability, payments for PPD may continue for up to 500 weeks.
- Scheduled awards are paid in addition to total temporary disability benefits starting upon termination of the termination of the TTD benefits. Scheduled awards are not reduced because of receipt of TTD benefits.
- Benefits may be available for permanent disfigurement of the head or face, which impairs future usefulness and earnings in the occupation in which the employee was injured.
- Physical and vocational rehabilitation benefits are available.
- With certain constraints and filing deadlines, occupational hearing losses may be compensable.
- Death benefits are payable to an employee's surviving spouse, or spouse and children, based upon a percentage of the employee's wages, subject to a cap. A burial allowance is available.