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Iowa workers’ compensation is sole remedy with exceptions

For most Iowan employees injured at work, the workers’ compensation law provides the only available remedy, according to Iowa Workforce Development. The law requires employers to follow strict procedures for reporting, handling claims, and making payments. Every employer designates an agent or representative with knowledge of Iowa’s workers’ compensation law to quickly and efficiently handle claims.

Some individuals are not considered employees and are therefore exempt from the requirement to purchase workers’ compensation liability insurance. For example, sole proprietors, independent contractors, members, and partners, are not considered employees in their respective work, companies and partnerships. Furthermore, exemptions may exist for persons employed by family members. Other industries, such as agriculture, are exempt under certain circumstances. Also, employers who pay less than a certain amount each year to employees may be exempt from the liability insurance requirement.

On the other hand, an employer who is required to have workers’ compensation insurance but refuses to comply with the mandate is subject to the “full measure of damages available under tort law” for injuries suffered by an employee in the course of his or her employment. This means that the limits on the amount and scope of liability under the workers’ compensation law would not apply.

Notwithstanding the limitations imposed by law, the Iowa code provides another exception to the exclusive remedy rule for Iowan employees injured on the job when their injuries have resulted from the gross negligence of another employee, according to Iowa’s Court of Appeals. In order to show gross negligence, however, an injured employee must prove that the negligent employee knew of a certain danger and purposefully avoided it. The injuries suffered must also have been a probable, not merely possible, result of the dangerous condition.

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