When an employee is injured at work, they often have many concerns about how they will pay for medical bills to treat their injury and whether they will be paid if they miss work. Under the Iowa Workers Compensation Act, employees that are injured on the job or suffer occupational diseases, may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover various expenses.
If eligible, the law provides for the payment of all reasonable medical expenses to treat the injury including transportation to and from a medical facility and lost wages when an employee has to take time off from work to obtain treatment. If a worker has to miss days of work due to an injury, or is able to return to work but cannot perform their original job temporarily or permanently, disability benefits may also be payable to cover their wages as they recover.
Disability Benefits at a Glance
When someone is injured at work, they may miss several days of work while they recover. TTD or Temporary Total Disability is payable when an employee’s injury results in more than three days of missed work. They are paid at a rate of 80% of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings to start on the 4th day of disability ending when the employee returns to work (or when medically capable of returning to work). If the disability period exceeds 14 calendar days, the entire period (including the first 3 days) of missed work is payable. An example of a TTD might include an employee who is ordered by a doctor to stay off their feet following a foot injury, but is expected to return to work after a period of healing, whether it is in the same or similar work capacity.
If an employee is able to return to work, albeit at a lesser paying job because they are still recuperating, they may be eligible for Temporary Partial Disability or TPD. In this scenario, an employee is paid 66 and 2/3 percent of the difference between the employee’s average gross weekly earnings and their actual earnings while they temporarily work the lesser paying job. An example may include a cashier recovering from wrist injury who works a ‘lesser earning’ customer liaison position until their injury heals – temporary partial disability is designed to bridge the difference in pay until they are able to resume their higher paying position.
Healing Period benefits are payable to employees recuperating from an injury that produces permanent impairment, paid the first day of disability at a rate of 80% of an employee’s spendable weekly earnings not to exceed the maximum. Benefits end when (a) an employee returns to work (B) it is medically indicated that significant improvement is not anticipated or (C) the employee is medically capable of returning to similar work, whichever comes first.
PPD or Permanent Partial Disability benefits are payable if an injury results in a permanent disability, but the employee is capable of gainful employment. Common examples of permanent partial disability include back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, amputation, hearing loss, and vision damage. After the healing period, 80 percent of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings are payable ending when the employee has been paid the required number of weeks.
Permanent Total Disability or PTD benefits are payable when an injury makes it impossible to return to gainful employment commencing on the date of injury, payable at 80 percent of an employee’s spendable earnings as long as the employee remains disabled.
Applying for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you or a family member is injured on the job, there are time limits for reporting an injury to ensure that benefits are payable. An employer must be notified within 90 days of when the employee knew or should have known that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. If an injury is reported within the 90 day time frame and an employee does not receive weekly benefits, they have two years to resolve their claim or benefits may be denied. If an employee received weekly benefits that stopped, they have three years from the last payment to receive benefits or file a claim with the workers compensation commissioner.
The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer or the company itself may offer an injured worker a settlement where the parties enter into an agreement outlining the extent of compensation to be paid. It is important to work with an experienced attorney before agreeing to a settlement or lump sum payment to ensure that you receive maximum compensation and that you do not unknowingly end your future rights to pursue damages.
Denial of Benefits | Workers Compensation Disputes
It is not uncommon for an injured worker to be denied benefits, compensation that an employee may be entitled to if they had the knowledge and experience to push back. It is in your best interest to seek the help of an experienced Iowa workers’ comp attorney immediately following an injury, who can guide you through the process from start to finish. However, if you are at a point where you have been denied compensation for a workplace injury, it is not too late to work with a skilled workers’ compensation benefits attorney. Having the right team on your side can make all the difference when taking on insurance companies who deny the benefits you need to recover. Contact Iowa workers’ compensation attorneys of Loney & Schueller today for immediate assistance at 515-416-4006.