Understand how the workers’ compensation system works
Unfortunately, accidents can happen to anyone, even while at work. In the state of Iowa, there are specific workers’ compensation laws in place to protect employers and compensate employees who sustain an injury or illness while on the job. Because of those laws, if you are injured in the workplace, there is no need to retain a personal injury attorney in Iowa. It’s important to understand how the workers’ compensation system works.
What Should You do if You are Injured at Work?
If you become injured at work, you must immediately seek medical attention and report your injury to your employer. Workers are required to report on-the-job injuries to their employer or direct supervisor within a specific period of time per Iowa law.
If you have an injury or illness that developed over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or a breathing problem, it’s important to report it as soon as you realize your work was the direct cause. You will then be provided with a claim form that allows you to describe the condition and how, where and when it occurred. Make copies of all communication with your employer, insurance company and doctors so that you have the documentation pertinent to your workers’ compensation claim.
Is Workers’ Compensation the Same as State Disability?
Workers’ comp is only given for injuries or illnesses that occur directly due to work. State disability, however, is given for injuries or illnesses that are not related to a person’s work. If you file for State Disability and receive benefits, you won’t be granted workers’ compensation during the same time unless your workers’ comp temporary disability rate is less than the State Disability rate. Conversely, if your workers’ comp claim is denied or payments are delayed, you can receive State Disability on a temporary basis.
Can You Sue Your Employer Even if You’re Receiving Workers’ Compensation?
Generally, you cannot sue your employer if you are receiving workers’ comp because it is a no-fault system that’s meant to protect employers. However, if your injury occurred because your employer was reckless or acted intentionally, you may forego workers’ compensation and sue your employer in court in a personal injury claim.
Are All on-the-Job Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation? Do All Workers Qualify?
Most, not all, injuries are covered by workers’ comp. Coverage can be denied if a person was injured in certain situations, such as starting a fight with another employee, while violating company policies or while committing a crime.
Certain types of workers are ineligible for workers’ compensation, such as independent contractors and domestic workers in private homes. Federal government employees are also ineligible but can receive workers’ comp under a different federal law.
When Should You Hire an Attorney?
You should hire a lawyer if the following applies to you:
- Your case was denied
- Your case was accepted but you’re out of work and not receiving compensation to cover lost wages
- The insurance company is paying you less than your deserved compensation rate
- You’re having difficulty getting necessary medical treatment
- The case wasn’t accepted nor denied but a lot of time passed since you sustained your injury and you aren’t getting a response from your employer or insurance company
- You were released by your doctor but feel you need more treatment
- You were injured at work and fired afterward
- You returned to work and are being paid less and your employer or the insurance company refuses to make up the difference in wages
- You were released by your doctor and received a disability rating but feel you deserve a higher disability rating
- You were offered a settlement by the insurance company but are unsure whether it’s fair
- You feel you need legal guidance to assist you in the workers’ comp system