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What Should Employees Know About Workers' Compensation in Iowa?

Workers who are injured while they are working in Iowa might need to file for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits are meant to cover the expenses and damages of the injury.

There are several things that injured workers need to know about workers' compensation coverage. Here are some of the basics:

Who is covered by workers' compensation?

The vast majority of employees in Iowa are covered under workers' compensation insurance. One of the notable exceptions is that people who have positions as independent contractors aren't covered. Because workers' compensation coverage is considered a normal business expense, employers are responsible for the cost. They can't pass that cost down to employees through payroll deductions.

What are some of the compensable injuries under workers' compensation?

The definition of an injury is very broad. In the most basic sense, any injury or illness incurred while doing work-related duties is compensable. In fact, if the injury occurred at the workplace, it is likely compensable. Illnesses and other similar conditions, such as hearing loss, are also covered as long as the work conditions led to them. This includes preexisting conditions that are aggravated or worsened by the job duties.

What time limits apply for workers' compensation claims?

An employee has 90 days from the date of the injury or learning about the injury to notify the employer. The employer then has four days to file the Employer's First Report, which notifies the workers' compensation commissioner, if the worker is expected to miss at least three days, dies, or suffers a permanent injury. The application for workers' compensation benefits must be made within two years after the injury. A worker who receives benefits from the program has three years after the final payment of weekly disability benefits to seek additional benefits.

How long can an injured person receive benefits?

Medical care for the injury or illness is provided as long as it is deemed necessary. Disability benefits are possible up to a specific number of weeks, which depends on the type of injury. The loss of a thumb has a maximum of 60 weeks of payments, the loss of a leg has a 220 week maximum and the loss of an arm has a 250 week limit. These limits are based on a 100 percent loss of usage of the affected body part. If the injury causes less than a 100-percent loss, the limit would be reduced accordingly.