Work-Related Injuries in Iowa: 6 Things You Need to Know

If you recently experienced a work-related injury in Iowa, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns about your health care and ability to continue providing financially for yourself and your family. This article will help answer some of those questions and put you on the right track toward getting the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve.

Here are six things you should know if you’ve recently experienced a work-related injury in Iowa.

1. The “No Fault” System

The first thing you need to know is that you aren’t required to prove that someone was at fault or negligent in order to apply for or receive workers’ compensation benefits. In the state of Iowa, no one has to be at fault for you to receive benefits. As long as your injury happened or worsened as a result of work-related activities, you are legally eligible to apply for compensation to assist with your care and financial responsibilities.

2. Time Limitations

In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Iowa, your employer must have notice or knowledge of your injury within 90 days of the day that the injury occurred. If you do not notify your employer within 90 days, you could be denied benefits. There are also two-year and three-year statute of limitation guidelines that can impact whether or not you are able to receive or continue receiving benefits to treat your injury. Specific information about those guidelines can be found in this document provided by the Iowa Workforce Development Division of Workers’ Compensation.

3. Doctor Visits

Before visiting a doctor to treat the injury you experienced at work, it’s important that you check in with your employer first. Iowa Workers’ Compensation law stipulates that your employer may choose where to send you for medical care to treat a work-related injury. If you go to a doctor’s office or hospital without permission from your employer, you may be financially responsible for any bills that you receive from the healthcare provider you visited.

4. Death Benefits

If your loved one or someone you depended on financially died as a result of an injury sustained while on the job, you will likely be eligible to receive what is known as “death benefits.” Death benefits are provided to surviving spouses and children of employees who succumbed to their injuries. A surviving spouse can be eligible to receive death benefits for life or until they remarry. Surviving children can be eligible to receive benefits until they turn 18, or 25 if they were fully dependent on the income and financial support of the deceased individual.

5. Types of Settlements

In the event that a settlement between you and your employer is necessary, there are four different types of workers’ compensation settlements that the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner could approve. The first type of settlement is known as full commutation. A full commutation will provide one lump sum at once to account for all remaining future benefits.

The second type of settlement is known as partial commutation. Partial commutation will provide those receiving benefits with a partial lump sum payment, but does not eliminate your right to continue receiving benefits in the future.

The third type of settlement is an agreement for settlement, which is a voluntary agreement between you and your employer regarding the amount and type of benefits you should receive. This type of agreement does not end your right to receive future benefits.

The final is known as a compromise settlement, which is another voluntary agreement between you and your employer regarding what you are entitled to. This type of agreement ends your ability to apply for or receive future benefits.

It is always in your best interest to consult with an attorney before agreeing to and signing a settlement.  The settlement papers and provisions are drawn up by attorneys working for the insurance company to protect their interests, NOT to protect your interests.

6. Hiring an Attorney

Hiring an attorney can help you understand your rights as an employee. Attorneys can answer your questions, explain the process and timeline you’ll need to go through before you can receive benefits and help you actually receive the benefits you deserve if your employer is unwilling to support you.

Still have questions? The Platt Law Firm offers free consultations for personal injury and workers compensation inquiries, and we will travel to meet with you if you live outside the Des Moines area. Call us locally to set up a meeting at 515-278-1522.

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