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What Is Workers’ Compensation?

December 13, 2017By Niko Pothitakis

Last year in the United States, there were nearly 3 million reported workplace injuries and illnesses. To ensure the continued well-being of everyone, each state has adopted workers’ compensation laws. These laws protect the interests of both employers and employees, and they ensure the continued well-being and success of both by providing certain compensation to injured employees.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation Provides Vital Care and Compensation

The Iowa workers’ compensation system, like others across the country, offers remuneration in three main categories for injured workers and their families:

  • Medical bills: Pending review, medical expenses related to a workplace accident may be covered under workers’ compensation, including hospital stays, surgery, medication, doctors’ appointments, and others.
  • Wage replacement: Often, injured and ill workers are forced to miss work because of their injuries. Hence, they are unable to earn income as they did before the injury. The workers’ compensation system can provide payments while the employee is out of work. The payment amounts are based on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury and the employee’s previous wages.
  • Rehabilitation services: The goal of any care program is to help a person recover after suffering from an illness or injury. The workers’ compensation system may pay for treatment that enables an injured employee to regain as much function as possible, including physical and emotional therapy. This can also include vocational rehabilitationto help the employee rejoin the workforce.

In the event a workplace injury results in an employee’s death, surviving family members may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, including funeral costs and wage replacement.

Workers’ Comp Exists to Protect Everyone in the Workforce

Workers’ compensation protects both employees and employers after an accident or other scenario causes a worker to suffer injuries or fall ill. The system is based on two main tenets:

  • Workers can obtain benefits regardless of who was at fault. Injuries and illnesses occur as a result of many different circumstances. Sometimes, the employer is at fault if the work environment is unsafe. Other times, potentially careless behavior of the employee causes the injury. However, under workers’ compensation, employers agree to offer benefits no matter what caused an accident.
  • Employers are shielded from further costly and time-consuming litigation. Before workers’ compensation existed, employers were often involved in arduous and expensive litigation, in which they had to show that an employee or some other party was negligent. In exchange for disregarding fault, employers no longer have to do this, and employees may not sue their employer if they receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Types of Injuries Covered by Iowa Workers’ Compensation

The workers’ compensation system covers most workplace injuries and illnesses. Injuries sustained both at work or outside the job location but during the course of employment duties are likely covered. For example, if an employee is injured in a car accident while traveling on work business, he may be able to obtain benefits. Workers’ compensation can also cover injuries and illnesses that occur over the course of time due to work-related factors, such as repetitive use injuries, hearing loss, carpal tunnel, chronic back pain, and other conditions.

However, there are exceptions to the system. Employers and their insurance companies do not have to pay benefits when employees exhibit behavior that is well outside the realm of carelessness, including situations when:

  • The employee is drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • The employee’s behavior is in violation of stated company policy.
  • The employee’s injuries are self-inflicted or the result of a fight.
  • The employee was injured while committing a crime.

Additionally, workers’ compensation only covers eligible employees. In Iowa, certain types of workers are excluded from receiving benefits. Some of those positions include:

  • Domestic and casual employees who earn less than $1,500 per year
  • Agricultural laborers who work for a farm with a payroll of less than $2,500 the previous year
  • Safety forces eligible for pension funds
  • Individuals considered independent contractors

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries performing job-related tasks, you may be eligible for Iowa workers’ compensation benefits. At the Pothitakis Law Firm, our experienced attorneys have helped many injured Iowa employees obtain the medical care and wage replacement they deserved. Call our office or complete the convenient online contact form to learn more and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.