Every year, back injuries plague thousands of American workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 155,000 cases of work-related back injuries in 2015.
Back injuries can encompass a wide range of problems, and there are many different management options available depending on the type and severity of injury. For many, a simple course of treatment will resolve the issue so the employee can get back to work. For others, however, a back injury can be a persistent and painful problem that can prevent them from working and may not ever fully heal. In these cases, Iowa workers’ compensation benefits exist that can help ensure the security and success of permanently injured employees. Learn more about the benefit options here.
Back injuries are one of the leading causes of workers’ compensation claims across the country. These injuries fall under the category of musculoskeletal disorders, which accounted for nearly one-third of all work-related injuries in 2015. Back injuries occurred in nearly every area of the workforce—from office buildings to construction sites. While many people assume a back problem is the result of a specific incident, they can also be caused over time by small repetitive movements, reaching overhead, remaining in the same position for too long, or simple bending.
For many injured workers, medications, rehabilitation, or surgery may help relieve the symptoms and offer a chance at recovery. In some cases, however, medical interventions cannot offer a return to complete health. For these Iowa workers, persistent symptoms can prevent them from working or working in the same capacity as before the injury. These symptoms can include:
The Iowa workers’ compensation system recognizes that workers can and do experience permanent injuries, and it offers different types of benefits to address a different types of injuries. The two main types of benefits for permanent injuries are:
The state of Iowa offers some of the most generous compensation benefits in the country, and both these types of benefits pay 80 percent of the worker’s spendable weekly earnings, up to a set maximum.
Once it has been determined that the worker has reached maximum recovery for his injury, the extent of the injury will be examined. The severity of the injury—whether it is complete or partial—will determine the type and amount of compensation that a worker can obtain. This will also affect how long the benefits will be paid.
While some injuries are permanent, it is also true that they do not completely hinder a worker’s ability to maintain employment. In those cases, the compensation is determined differently. Once maximum recovery has been reached, a doctor will decide an impairment rating, which is a percentage equal to the degree of impairment. Compensation will be equal to that rating. This means that if a doctor determines that a worker’s impairment rating is 50 percent, he would be entitled to half of the maximum weeks of pay for that injury. Back injuries in Iowa are typically payable up to 500 weeks. So, in this example, the worker would be entitled to 80 percent of his average spendable earnings for 250 weeks.
This medical exam and rating are very important, as they determine how long an employee can receive benefits for a partial disability. Every injury is different, and an experienced workers’ compensation employee can help injured employees obtain the maximum benefit.
For those who suffer a permanent partial disability, healing period benefits are also available. These benefits are offered during the recovery period. These benefits also pay 80 percent of the spendable weekly earnings. There is no set time frame for healing period benefits. Once maximum recovery has been reached, the healing period would end and PPD benefits would begin. Thus, it is possible to obtain compensation for longer than just the number of weeks set by the PPD schedule.
If it is determined that the injured worker has a permanent total disability, he would be entitled to receive compensation for the length of the disability. This could mean a period of months or years, or for life. Total disabilities do not have to adhere to the set maximum of 500 weeks.
Every injury and situation is different, even those that affect the same body part. If you have suffered a work-related back injury in Iowa, you may be eligible for compensation—but it is very difficult to calculate the level of benefits you deserve. The experienced workers’ compensation team at the Pothitakis Law Firm can help you learn more about your rights and obtain the maximum award for your injuries. Call us today at (888) 459-7613 to schedule a free consultation.