Under Iowa law, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to eligible employees. This means that if you are injured or contract an occupational disease while on the job, with only limited exceptions, your employer is required to pay your medical expenses and cover at least a portion of your lost wages.
Since workers’ compensation is a no-fault system in Iowa, eligible employees are entitled to benefits regardless of whether their employer is at fault for their injuries. However, workers’ compensation is also the exclusive remedy for seeking compensation from your employer. As a result, it is crucial that you properly follow each of the steps required in order to file for workers’ compensation.
The following are the basic steps for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Iowa:
Determine if You have a Work-Related Illness or Injury
Workers’ compensation only provides benefits for work-related injuries. It does not provide coverage for injuries that occur on personal time and impact your job. Examples of covered injuries include:
Employees are not entitled to benefits for pre-existing conditions except to the extent that they are aggravated by a job-related incident.
Report Your Injury to Your Employer
The next and most important thing you need to do is to promptly report your injury or illness to your employer. While Iowa law gives you 90 days to report your injury to your employer, you always want to start the claim process as soon as possible. Waiting can make it more difficult to pursue your claim.
In addition, your employer is entitled to choose your medical provider for work-related injuries. If you see your own doctor first, you may not be able to recover your medical expenses through workers’ compensation.
Follow Up with the Division of Workers’ Compensation
If your injury or illness keeps you out of work for more than three days, your employer must file a report with the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation within four days of learning of your injury. If your employer does not file this report – or if your employer ignores or denies your claim – you can contact the Division directly in order to pursue compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
Be Prepared for a Dispute
In order to avoid payouts and to keep their insurance costs down, employers regularly dispute workers’ compensation claims and attempt to pay their employees less than they are owed. If your employer does not voluntarily pay the full amount you are owed, you may need to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you.
Attorney Niko Pothitakis represents employees throughout Iowa in workers’ compensation claims. If you’ve been injured at work, contact us today for a free consultation.