Every year, millions of people are injured or fall ill at work. The workers’ compensation system exists to help these employees receive proper medical care and continue to provide for themselves and their families. Nationally, the latest report from the Social Security Administration states that over 129 million injured employees were paid more than $6.5 trillion in 2013. In Iowa, the workers’ compensation system paid out over $238 million last year in total compensation and medical bills.
The program pays all medical bills related to the work injury, as well as cash benefits and death benefits to those who qualify. So, what types of benefits could you receive if you or your loved one has suffered an injury at work?
There are two main types of benefits that the workers’ compensation system offers: medical and wage replacement. These benefits are meant to ensure that the injured worker can heal as much as is possible and does not suffer any undue financial hardship because of missed work due to the injury. These benefits are defined as:
Workers’ compensation should cover all medical bills related to the work injury or illness. However, the employer or its insurance carrier has the right to choose the provider for the medical care. If an employee is not satisfied with this care, he may discuss the situation with the employer. If the employer or its insurance company refuses to make a change in care when it is requested, the employee may apply for a change through the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Additionally, if the employee is permanently disabled, the doctor will offer an impairment rating that helps determine the amount of compensation. In these cases, if the employee disagrees with the rating, he may request a second opinion by a doctor of his own choosing. The employer or its insurance carrier must pay for the second opinion.
It also should be noted that any employee who receives these medical benefits agrees to release any personal medical records related to the injury and waive any privilege between doctor and patient regarding that information.
As there are many different types of injuries that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, there are different categories that determine the amount and the timeframe for wage replacement benefits. Benefits fall into these main categories:
Typically, workers who have a total or permanent injury are entitled to 80 percent of their spendable weekly earnings. There are certain minimum and maximum amounts set by the state that can affect the compensation. Those who experience a TPD are eligible for slightly different amounts as determined by the state board.
A third type of benefit, known as permanency benefits, can be obtained for permanent injuries. These benefits are subject to a schedule based on the type and severity of injury. An injury to a scheduled member, such as a hand, foot, arm, leg, or eye, is evaluated based on the impairment to that specific body part. Whole body injuries, such as a hip, neck, back, or other unscheduled body part, are evaluated on the worker’s ability to return to work and earn income. For example, the loss of a hand would pay the equivalent of 190 weeks of pay, while a back injury could offer wages equivalent to 500 weeks times the impairment rating determined by a doctor.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or fallen ill at work, you may be eligible for Iowa workers’ compensation benefits. The experienced attorneys at the Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., may be able to help you obtain the compensation you need to ensure your recovery and continued financial stability. Call us today at 1-888-532-0996 to learn more about your rights and possible options.