Iowa Workers' Compensation- Questions and Answers
This article answers common questions that Iowans' hurt at work have and provides injured workers in Iowa with some basic information about their rights under Iowa's workers' compensation laws, including what benefits they should receive.
Here are some general answers to often-asked questions about workers' compensation benefits. It is important to note that the outcome for each case is determined on its specific facts and circumstances.
Q: Is my employer responsible for the medical expenses caused by my work injury?
A: Yes, but usually your employer and/or their insurance company will decide which medical providers you see. In exchange for this, they are responsible for paying for all medical care necessary to treat your work injury. This includes all forms of care and treatment, whether hospital, medical, therapy, nursing, diagnostic testing, surgery, physical rehabilitation or pain management. Also, you are entitled to be reimbursed at the rate of $.505 per mile effective July 1, 2008, for all mileage you incur going to and from doctors' appointments, physical therapy visits, etc.
Q: If the company doctor recommends surgery, do I have to have it?
A: No, You have the right to refuse any medical procedures or care that you do not want. For However, please keep in mind that not proceeding with surgery may have an impact upon your case.
Q: Does my medical care end when the doctor releases me from treatment?
A: No, your employer and/or their insurance company are responsible for paying for all medical care necessary to treat your work related injury, however as stated above they will choose your medical providers. This includes all forms of care and treatment, whether hospital, medical, therapy, nursing, diagnostic testing, surgery, physical rehabilitation or pain management. The right to medical care and treatment may continue for the rest of your life for conditions related to your work injury or occupational disease.
Q: Am I entitled to cash payments if I am unable to work?
A: Yes. While you are healing and unable to work, you will receive cash payments to replace your usual earnings. The amount of your payment is based upon your earnings prior to your work injury.
Q: Do I have the right to a 2nd opinion?
A: Yes. Under Iowa law once the company doctors have said that you are as good as you will get, you have reached MMI, you have the right to have an independent medical examination performed by a doctor of your own choosing for an impairment rating and permanent restrictions. There are many doctors who specialize in giving second opinions in workers' compensation cases.
Q: Once I am done treating, if I don't make a full recovery does my case end?
A: No. If your work injury causes a permanent injury, then you should receive compensation for your disability. The amount owed is determined by the nature of your injury (ie. hand, back, neck, shoulder, etc.), your earnings prior to your work injury, your impairment rating, and other factors.
Q: Can my employer fire me after a work injury?
A: Under Iowa law your employer is not supposed to fire you for filing a workers' compensation claim. However, you can be terminated for other reasons such as absences, work problems, etc. Also, subject to some exceptions (for example if you are a union member) generally your employer does not have to find you work if you are unable to return to your old job because of restrictions.
Q: What if I leave the job where I was hurt?
A: Leaving your job where you were hurt does not end your workers' compensation claim. Just because you may be receiving workers' compensation benefits, does not mean that you have to remain employed with the same employer. However, leaving your job while you are still being treated may impact your case and the compensation that you receive.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I offer a FREE Book entitled "Iowa Workers' Compensation- An Insider's Guide to Work Injuries". Why offer a Free Book? Over the past 11 years I have represented hundreds of Iowans hurt at work and too many have made mistakes before they had the "right" information costing them thousands of dollars. Quantities are limited so go to http://www.IowaWorkInjury.com .