In 2013, private employers reported more than three million workplace injuries and illnesses to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over 50 percent of those injuries involved days away from work, a job transfer, or restrictions. As alarming as this may seem, the reality is that millions more work injuries and illnesses go unreported to the proper workers’ compensation authority.
Workers are often reluctant to report a workplace injury or illness for a variety of reasons. There are also some misunderstandings about workers’ comp and an unawareness of several workers’ compensation facts. By providing these facts about workers’ compensation, workers may feel more comfortable coming forth to address work injuries and seek the benefits to which they are entitled.
Fact #1 – You cannot lose your job if you report a work injury.
Iowa law states that employers cannot fire a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, an employer may fire you for reasons related to your injury such as poor job performance after returning to work.
To avoid these issues, it is best to closely follow the doctor’s orders until you return to work. Once back on the job, bring any further health concerns to your doctor and employer before they impact your work ability.
Fact #2 – Workers’ compensation will pay indefinitely.
Duration of workers’ compensation is limited depending on the scope of the injury or illness. In most cases, a doctor will assess the worker’s health and determine a date to return to work upon which the workers’ compensation benefits may cease. Some may receive temporary partial or permanent partial disability benefits even after returning to work.
Some may get permanent total disability benefits that last as long as the disability prevents the worker from working. Medical benefits last as long as necessary to treat the work-related injury or illness. A worker must receive a 30-day written notice explaining the termination of benefits for any reason other than a return to normal job duties.
Fact #3 – I can see any doctor I choose for my work injury.
Iowa workers’ comp laws state your employer has the right to choose the provider of your medical care. However, if you are not satisfied with the care you receive, you can submit a request to see a different doctor or specialist.
Fact #4 – You can wait as long as you want to file a work injury report.
The statute of limitations for an Iowa worker’s compensation claim is two years from the initial date of the injury. However, you must file the injury report with your employer within 90 days of the injury or identification of your illness.
Fact #5 – My employer has the final say in approving or denying my workers’ compensation claim.
If your employer or its insurance company denies your workers’ compensation claim you have the right to file an appeal. After trying to amicably work out the issue with the insurer, you have the right to appeal your claim denial to the Iowa Worker’s Compensation Commissioner.
If you are appealing a denied worker’s compensation claim in Iowa, contact an attorney to assist you with the necessary procedures and hearing. Walker, Billingsley & Bair helps injured Iowa workers resolve workers’ compensation disputes and obtain the benefits they deserve. For help with your claim, call 888-435-9886 or contact us online to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.