Worker With Helmet and Injured Eye

You have a permanent injury because of what happened at work. You are eligible for workers’ compensation in Iowa, but before you make a claim or agree to a settlement, it is important to know what compensation you should receive and how to protect your rights.

Workers’ Compensation During the Healing Period

If you suffer a permanent partial disability because of a work-related accident or illness, then your benefits should begin on the first day of your disability. At that time, you might not yet know that your injury is permanent. Accordingly, the law defines a healing period as the time from your first day of disability until (1) you return to work, (2) you are capable of returning to substantially similar work, or (3) significant improvement is not anticipated by doctors.

During the healing period, workers typically receive weekly benefits based on 80% of their weekly spendable earnings up to a maximum amount allowed by law.

Additionally, you should receive medical care to treat your injury. Your employer has the right to choose your medical providers, but you should never compromise on your medical treatment. If you are unhappy with the care that you are getting, you should request a new provider. Sometimes your employer or your employer’s insurance company will agree to your request. If they do not agree, however, you can file a petition for alternate medical care with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.

Workers’ Compensation for Specific Permanent Injuries

Once you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, you can be compensated for your permanent partial disability. Before your permanent partial disability benefits can be calculated, the extent of your injury or the percentage of your impairment must be determined according to the guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment, published by the American Medical Association.

Your specific compensation will be based on the percentage of impairment to a specific body part, and it will be calculated based on 80% of your weekly spendable earnings subject to minimum and maximum amounts allowed by law.

Assuming that you have a 100% loss of a body part, you may recover permanent partial disability benefits for the following number of weeks based on the body part that is impacted. Loss in this context means a loss of function and not a physical amputation. According to Iowa workers’ compensation law, you can recover the following for:

  • Loss of thumb – 60 weeks
  • Loss of first finger – 35 weeks
  • Loss of second finger – 30 weeks
  • Loss of third finger – 25 weeks
  • Loss of fourth finger – 20 weeks
  • Loss of hand – 190 weeks
  • Loss of arm – 250 weeks
  • Loss of shoulder – 400 weeks
  • Loss of big toe (great toe) – 40 weeks
  • Loss of any other toe – 15 weeks
  • Loss of foot – 150 weeks
  • Loss of leg – 220 weeks
  • Loss of eye – 140 weeks
  • Loss of eye if the other eye was previously lost – 200 weeks
  • Loss of hearing in one ear – 50 weeks
  • Loss of hearing in both ears – 175 weeks
  • Permanent disfigurement of the face or head – 150 weeks
  • Body as a whole – 500 weeks

If you suffer a permanent disability that is less than a 100% loss, then your weeks of compensation will be decreased accordingly. For example, if you experience a 100% loss of hearing in one ear, then you could receive 50 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. However, if you suffer a 50% loss of hearing in one ear, then you may receive 25 weeks of benefits.

Call an Iowa Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

Iowa law clearly defines what you should recover if you are permanently injured in a workplace incident, but that doesn’t mean that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is simply going to start paying you the full amount of benefits that you deserve. Instead, you may need to fight to protect your rights.

Let our experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyers fight for you. Insurance companies know that we mean business and are often willing to negotiate with us. We won’t stop fighting until you are treated fairly. Call us today to set up a free and confidential consultation about your rights and to find out more about how we may be able to help you.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham