Iowa employers are required by state law to provide compensation to workers who are hurt in work-related incidents.
Yet that doesn’t mean that the process of recovering workers’ compensation benefits will be easy, that conflicts won’t arise, or that you won’t have to take action to protect your rights. Instead, given the complexity of workers’ compensation laws and the motives of workers’ compensation insurance companies, every injured worker should understand how a workers’ compensation claim works, and every injured worker should be prepared to take steps to protect his rights.
Our experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyers are committed to helping injured workers get the recoveries that they deserve. That begins with understanding how the process works.
Nine Key Things You Need to Know
If you have been injured in a work-related accident or have become ill because of a work-related condition, then you need to know:
- How to report your accident. Iowa law has specific reporting requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses. You have 90 days to let your employer know that you are hurt or sick because of a work-related incident. If you fail to do so, then your employer or your employer’s insurer may deny your workers’ compensation claim and you may be left without benefits. If you can’t make your own report due to your physical condition, then it is important to have someone else make the report on your behalf.
- Whether your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Most Iowa employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. For most employers, this means that they are insured by a private insurance company. However, employers also have the option of being self-insured if they comply with the requirements of state law. Some employers, such as those who employ casual part-time household help, are exempt from the workers’ compensation requirement.
- Whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation. If your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance and if you are an employee who was hurt or who became ill in a work-related incident, then you are eligible for workers’ compensation. There is no waiting period like there typically is for other benefits. You are covered beginning on the first day of your job.
- What the time limits are on workers’ compensation cases. You have 90 days to first report your work-related injury or illness to your employer. If you do not receive weekly workers’ compensation benefits and you believe that you should, then you have two years to take action. If you received weekly workers’ compensation benefits and believe that they were wrongly stopped, then you have three years to take action.
- What evidence is important to your claim. You are not required to prove negligence in an Iowa workers’ compensation case. However, you will have to prove that the injury or illness that you suffered is work-related. Accordingly, photos or video from the accident scene could be relevant. Medical records will be relevant, and documentation of other expenses such as mileage to and from medical treatments will be important.
- When benefits should be paid. Medical benefits may start immediately and weekly benefits may begin as soon as 11 days following your work-related injury as long as you have taken the right steps to ensure that benefits will start promptly.
- How disputes are settled. The first step in settling a dispute is to talk to your employer or your employer’s insurance company to get more information about why they are denying your claim and to request that they reconsider your decision. As always, it is important to be cautious about speaking with an insurance company because the insurer’s goal is to pay you as little as possible in benefits. If the situation cannot be resolved informally, then it is important to file a contested case proceeding with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
- Whether you have a claim against a third party. If someone other than you, your employer, or another employee caused your accident and resulting injury, then you could have a third-party personal injury case rather than a workers’ compensation claim. It is important to identify all of the potential defendants and to pursue the right form of compensation within the required timelines so that you can make a fair recovery.
- Why you need an attorney. Each step in the workers’ compensation process is important and can be complex. You have the right to work with a lawyer who can make sure that all of your rights are protected and who can remove some of the stress of a claim from your life as you concentrate on your physical recovery.
A mistake in a workers’ compensation case could cost you your right to a fair recovery.
Don’t Let This Happen to You
Instead, call our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We would be pleased to review the specifics of your case with you and to provide you with important information about how to protect your right to a fair and just recovery of benefits. For more information or to schedule your free consultation, please start a live chat with us or call us anytime.