When a worker is injured on the job, their whole life can be turned upside down as they cannot earn their regular wages to support their family due to their injury. It is a stressful time.
Iowa recognizes the difficulties injured employees face and thus requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The following is a breakdown of the workers’ compensation process from the time of the injury to the time the claim is approved or denied.
Step 1: Notify their employer
First, when a worker is injured on the job, they must notify their employer of the injury within 90 days following the date that the worker was injured.
This notification can be verbal, but it is good practice for the worker to also notify their employer of the injury in writing. This way, there is a paper trail if a dispute arises.
Step 2: The report of injury
Once the worker notifies their employer of their injury, their employer must file a “first report of injury” with the Workers’ Compensation Commission if the employer’s injury causes them to miss at least three days of work or is permanent. The employer has four days to do this.
Step 3: Acceptance or denial
Following notification, the employer’s insurance carrier will either approve or deny the claim for benefits. They must do so in a timely manner. The worker will receive a letter from their employer’s insurance carrier containing the carrier’s decision.
If the employer’s insurance carrier accepts the claim for benefits, the worker will receive medical care. In addition, the worker will begin receiving benefits at this time.
These benefits may include payment for medical treatment and ongoing care, temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, lost wages and permanent total disability benefits.
If the employer’s insurance carrier denies the claim for benefits, the worker must file a petition for workers’ compensation benefits with the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. This paperwork must be filed within two years of the date they were injured. If the worker does not file this paperwork, they may lose the opportunity to obtain benefits altogether.
Following that, the worker’s case will either be settled or will go to arbitration.
The workers’ compensation process can be stressful but worthwhile
Going through the workers’ compensation process can be stressful, especially if you are unfamiliar with how the system works. However, the process is relatively straightforward, and if appropriate timelines are followed, will often lead to the payment of benefits.