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What to Do if Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Iowa

October 14, 2021By Niko Pothitakis

Although Iowa is a state that requires most employers to have workers’ compensation insurance, workers injured on the job may need to take action if their employers don’t have this coverage.

When Employers Don’t Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Most employers in Iowa offer some form of workers’ compensation insurance, which provides compensation to workers injured in work-related incidents. This compensation would normally provide workers’ comp benefits that cover lost wages, medical bills, disability, and other potential expenses.

In accordance with Iowa law, employers need to obtain coverage from insurance providers or qualify as “self-insurers.” They may also furnish a bond before it engages in business or gets relief from insurance via the state. Employers who fail to take any of these steps have committed a Class D felony, according to state law.

However, not all employers have the necessary coverage, and they may not even know they’re in violation of the law. Generally, if an employer is an independent contractor and doesn’t have any employees, they won’t be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Unfortunately, some employers may mistakenly believe that people working under them don’t qualify as actual employees, which could leave employees without the protection they legally need in some occupations.

How Injured Workers Can Recover Compensation Without Insurance

If an employee sustains a work-related injury and the worker’s employer doesn’t carry insurance coverage, the employee can take one of two steps. First, the employee could file a contested case proceeding with the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. In other cases, employees may choose to file a lawsuit against the employer for damages via a designated district court.

Typically, employees are unable to sue employers for damages resulting from work-related injuries, but they may be able to do so if a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t come into play. Through a lawsuit, injured employees may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, and pain and suffering. To recover compensation, injured employees would need to prove that the employer’s negligence led to the injuries.

Other cases may involve government or private benefits that help cover work-related injuries and disabilities, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

If a worker sustains an injury on the job and their employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, they have certain other options available to them if they qualify for compensation.