Employees of Iowa companies are protected by workers’ compensation insurance, which ensures that if they are injured on the job they will be compensated for their injuries and lost wages. Workers’ compensation benefits only cover injuries that arise in the course of employment, not injuries that a worker receives outside of work. Pre-existing conditions can be a worry if you’re injured on the job and have to file a workers’ compensation claim. Iowa’s worker’s compensation law will allow benefits if an employee suffers an on-the-job injury that leads to a worsening or aggravation of a pre-existing condition. However, employers and insurance companies often work hard to prove that employees were not fully forthcoming about the nature or scope of their pre-existing conditions in an attempt to deny these claims.
What is a Pre-Existing Condition Under Iowa Workers’ Compensation Law?
An “injury” is very broadly defined under Iowa workers’ compensation law to include any health impairment other than the normal building up and tearing down of body tissues. Because of this broad terminology, most health impairments that result from employment activities are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
On the other hand, the law states that employees are not entitled to benefits for a pre-existing condition or disease unless it has been aggravated by something that occurred in the scope of the worker’s employment. Pre-existing medical conditions that aren’t covered can range from prior work injuries, accidents unrelated to work, or merely the effects of the natural aging process.
For example, your old hip injury would not itself be covered under workers’ compensation, so medication and doctor visits to treat that pre-existing condition would normally not be reimbursed. However, if your job role requires repeated activities that include a lot of crouching, stooping and bending that causes your old hip injury to begin hurting again (or worsens the pain), that aggravation will likely be covered. If that seems complicated and difficult to differentiate, you’re right! It can be very hard to draw a line between older injuries, which are not covered, and new, similar, aggravation injuries.
How Can a Pre-Existing Medical Condition Impact Your Claim?
The most common issue that employees will encounter with a workers’ compensation claim for an aggravated injury are reluctant employers and insurance companies. While the process can be difficult, it is important to keep in mind that it is not impossible. With the help of an experienced and knowledgeable legal team, navigating the complicated Iowa workers’ compensation claims process can be done without added stress for you.
What to Expect When filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Pre-Existing Condition
If you are injured on the job in Iowa, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover the cost of medical bills, lost work time, and other expenses and provides benefits to compensate you for your disability. With pre-existing conditions, employees may receive a reduced benefit payout that may be reduced commensurate with the amount they may have received for the initial injury.
For example, if you suffer an initial injury to your knee on the job, you may receive $4,000 in benefits to cover medical bills and other damages. If you aggravate that pre-existing condition on the job later on you may only receive benefits for damage to your knee over and above the damage for which you have already been paid.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney?
Unlike a straightforward workers’ compensation claim, filing for a claim for aggravation of a pre-existing condition can be met with significant pushback from your employer and insurance company. This can make it much harder to prove that your injury was made worse or aggravated while on the job. With the help of experienced legal guidance, you can focus your energy on healing and leave the complicated legal work to the professionals. From guiding you through the claims process to helping you keep up-to-date with additional health evaluations and fighting hard for the maximum benefit payout available, an experienced attorney is your advocate through the workers’ compensation process.
Don’t risk losing out on the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve! If you or someone you know are suffering from an on-the-job injury or aggravation of a pre-existing injury, it is extremely important that you know your rights before filing a workers’ compensation claim in Iowa. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today.