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Iowa Workers' Compensation Laws

Home to the nation's first female lawyer, the actual inventor of sliced bread, and iconic actor John Wayne, Iowa has a lot to be proud of. The state also takes great pride in its workforce and therefore requires employers to purchase workers' compensation insurance, which covers work-related injuries and illnesses regardless of fault. If you've been injured or fallen ill, and believe it's work-related, you'll need to know about your rights and responsibilities for pursuing workers' compensation in Iowa.

The table below outlines key aspects of the workers' compensation laws in Iowa, including some types of benefits and important deadlines.

Important Deadlines
  • 90 days to inform employer of injury (Sec. 85.23)
  • 2 year time limit to receive benefits or file application for arbitration (Sec. 85.26)
  • 3 year time limit to request benefits in addition to those already received (Sec. 85.26)
Some Types of Benefits
  • Medical care: all reasonable and necessary medical care required to treat the injury, including necessary travel expenses (Sec. 85.27)
  • Temporary total disability: compensate worker totally disabled from work for a temporary period of time (Sec's. 85.32, 85.33(1))
  • Temporary partial disability: benefits while employee is recovering from injury and only able to work at a lower paying job (Sec. 85.33(2-5))
  • Healing Period: benefits while recovering from injury which produces a permanent impairment (Sec. 85.34(1))
  • Permanent total disability: compensate employee rendered permanently unable to work (Sec. 85.34(3))
  • Death benefits: for burial costs, spouse, and dependents of an employee who dies from a work-related injury or disease (Sec's. 85.28, 85.31, 85.42, 85.43, 85.44)
Employer Obligations
  • Employers with one or more employees are required to obtain & post notice of workers' compensation insurance (with limited exceptions) (Sec. 85.3, 85.61; 85.71)
  • Employer has right to choose medical provider for employee (Sec. 85.27)

Who Is Covered by Workers' Compensation?

In Iowa, most employees injured in the state are eligible for benefits. Even if they are injured outside of the state, workers may still receive compensation if they were hired in Iowa or their employment is principally located in Iowa. Some types of workers -- such as independent contractors and domestic workers making less than $1,500 per year -- are not automatically covered.

Injured? See a Doctor and Tell Your Employer

If you're sick or injured, you should get medical attention and tell your employer or supervisor as soon as possible. If you don't give notice to your employer within 90 days, you risk losing your benefits altogether. Your employer then has four days to submit a first report of injury or illness to the Workers' Compensation Commissioner. Additionally, your employer has the right to choose your medical provider, although you may file a petition for alternate care.

What Should I Do if There's a Problem with My Claim?

In exchange for workers' compensation, you generally give up your right to sue your employer. However, if your claim is denied or there is a dispute regarding benefits, you do have options, including the following:

  • Request an evidence-based explanation from your employer and insurance company;
  • Contact a Workers' Compensation Compliance Administrator to discuss the issues; or
  • File a contested case proceeding before the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner (many employees are represented by an attorney during these proceedings)

Seeking Compensation After an Injury? Talk to an Iowa Attorney

Workplace injuries can result in medical bills, lost wages, and a whole host of other headaches. The benefits of workers' compensation can alleviate some of that stress, but you'll need to navigate the deadlines and paperwork first. If you've suffered a workplace injury or illness, let an Iowa injury law attorney familiar with Iowa's workers' compensation laws help.

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