If you’ve experienced an injury while working on the job in Iowa, it’s important to understand the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Without a clear understanding of what steps need to be taken, who needs to be notified, and what your rights under Iowa law are as an employee, you risk potentially missing out on some or all of your workers compensation benefits.
This article will highlight the process you need to go through if you do get injured on the job, and will also provide a few recommendations on what to do if you run into any unexpected problems when it comes to working with your employer, getting a claim approved, receiving care, or getting benefits for your injury.
Step 1: Report the Injury
The first step you must take in order to kick off the workers’ compensation claims process is to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. In Iowa, there are very specific guidelines that have been put in place that relate to how much time you have to report an injury before you become ineligible to receive benefits. According to the Iowa Workforce Development Division of Workers’ Compensation, “Unless your employer has notice or knowledge of your asserted injury within 90 days of its occurrence, you may be denied benefits. The 90-day period begins to run when you knew or should have known that your injurious condition related to your work.”
When reporting your injury, it’s also important to be as specific as possible about what happened and when. If your injury occurred over time, you should notify your employer immediately or when the pain is severe enough that you want to seek medical treatment.
Step 2: Get Medical Attention
The next step in the claims process is to seek medical attention for your injury. If your injury requires emergency medical attention, do not wait until you’ve reported the injury. Seek care immediately. If it’s not an emergency, speak with your employer to get a list of approved doctor’s offices and hospitals that you can visit to receive care. In Iowa, your employer has the right to choose where you go to receive care. If you go to an unapproved medical facility to seek treatment without talking to your employer first, your medical bills may not be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Step 3: File a Claim
When you get injured as an employee in Iowa, it is the responsibility of your employer to file certain paperwork with their insurance provider and the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. Your employer likely has a process in place and will ask you to fill out any necessary paperwork associated with filing a claim. If you believe that your employer is purposely not filing a claim about your injury, speak to an attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and help you take legal action if needed.
Step 4: Know Your Rights
In order to ensure that you receive full benefits for your injury, it’s important to understand your rights as an employee. In Iowa, there are specific guidelines in place that can help you understand how long you should receive benefits based on the injury you experienced or the part of the body that was impacted, and how much you should be compensated as a result of your temporary or permanent injury. To understand those rights, review this brochure from the Iowa Workforce Development Division of Workers’ Compensation. If any of the information is unclear you can contact Platt Law Firm for explanation of your rights.
Step 5: Find out if Your Claim Was Accepted or Rejected
You will be informed whether your workers’ compensation claim was accepted or rejected. If your claim was rejected and you believe you should still receive benefits, you should hire an attorney to file a petition on your behalf. Even if your claim was accepted, it’s possible that the insurance carrier your employer uses chose to only award partial benefits to you. If you believe you should be receiving more benefits as a result of your injury and inability to work, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you file a petition or take your employer or their insurance carrier to court if required in order to receive benefits you believe you should be entitled to.
If you have any questions about workers’ compensation claims or your rights as an employee in Iowa, contact the Platt Law Firm. We offer free consultations for personal injury and workers compensation inquiries, and we will travel to meet with you if you live outside the Des Moines area. Call us locally to set up a meeting at 515-278-1522.