Workers Compensation in Iowa

If you work in Iowa, and you injure yourself during the course of your employment, you may be entitled to receive Iowa workers comp. Determining exactly what constitutes a “work-related” injury so that you can obtain benefits, however, can be a complex process. This is why it may be in your best interests to consult with a lawyer who has experience with workers comp if you’ve injured yourself on the job.

Relevant Iowa Statutes

Under state law, Iowa employers are not required to carry workers compensation insurance. However, they are required to compensate workers for any injuries workers may sustain while carrying out any activity that’s within the scope of their employment. If employers don’t carry insurance, they can self-insure by providing proof to the state’s insurance commissioner that they’re in a position to pay any damages that may be required. Three sections of the Iowa code apply:

  • Code Sec. 85.27: This statute stipulates that your employer is responsible for paying any medical expenses you’ve incurred in conjunction with your work-related injury.
  • Code Sec. 85.33 and 85.34: These statutes stipulate that if your injury keeps you from working, your employer is required to compensate in the number of your net earnings for the period during which you are unable to work.
  • Code Sec. 85.34: This statute stipulates that if you sustain an injury during the course of your employment that results in a permanent disability, your employer is required to compensate you to the extent that your disability affects your earning potential.

Some Facts About Iowa Workers Compensation

Iowa makes little distinction between employees and independent contractors when it comes to workers compensation eligibility. If the employer controls the nature of the job duties and the hours during which the employee must work, then an independent contractor may be able to make a case if he or she gets injured on the job.

Occupational diseases such as mesothelioma and injuries that are exacerbated over time such as carpal tunnel syndrome may provide sufficient grounds for a claim. Hearing losses related to conditions in the workplace may also be eligible.

What Is a Work-Related Injury?

Some examples of work-related injuries are straightforward. Let’s say you work in a warehouse. One day, your trip on a piece of equipment that wasn’t properly put away, and you break your ankle when you fall. This is a fairly clear-cut example of a work-related injury.

What if, though, you break your ankle on a lunch break? Under Iowa state law, employers do not have to give most workers paid meal breaks, although employers can require workers to stay at a job-site during unpaid meal breaks. This makes the determination of workers comp eligibility in this situation highly ambiguous.

Eligibility determination is likely to grow even more complex. In March 2017, the Iowa state legislature introduced a pair of bills that have the potential to make the determination of workers comp eligibility even more complicated. These bills seek to curtail the ability of workers to seek compensation for injuries that are related to preexisting conditions and to deny benefits to employees who test positive for drugs and alcohol.

These are just a few of the reasons why if you are considering filing a claim for workers comp in Iowa, it would be smart to consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible.

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