1. Do not fail to notify the Iowa employer.
Under the Iowa Workers' Compensation laws, the employee needs to provide notice to the employer within 90 days of the date of his or her injury. (Iowa Code Section 85.23) If the employee fails to meet that deadline, the employee may lose their right to pursue the Iowa Work Comp claim. There are occasions when that deadline can be extended, but it’s better to be vigilant in providing notice as soon as the injury.
2. Seek medical care.
In addition to reporting their Iowa injury, an injured employee needs to seek medical care. On many occasions, employees think that they will simply get better and will try to hold off and wait as long as possible before seeking care. An employee is in a much better position in terms of his or her claim if medical care is sought early on, even if a doctor simply documents the condition and, in their opinion, believes the employee should wait for further care.
3. Don’t miss appointments.
When an employee is scheduled for a doctor’s appointment or physical therapy appointment, it’s imperative that he or she attend those appointments. Failure to attend these appointments can give the doctor the impression that the employee’s injury is not serious or significant or has been resolved. Further, under the Iowa Workers' Compensation laws, failure to attend doctor’s appointments could result in the cessation of Iowa Workers' Compensation benefits. (Iowa Code Section 85.39)
4. Make sure bills are paid by the Iowa Workers' Compensation insurance carrier as opposed to health insurance.
When an injured employee receives medical care with Iowa Workers' Compensation physicians, it’s important that their bills are turned in to the Workers' Compensation Insurance Carrier (Iowa Code Section 85.27). On some occasions, healthcare providers may be confused or simply prefer to submit the charges to an employee’s health insurance carrier. The problem with this is that the employee may end up paying deductibles or copays for care that should have been paid 100% by the Iowa Workers' Compensation insurance carrier.
5. Do not accept that the insurance company’s calculations are correct with regard to weekly Iowa Work Comp benefits.
The insurance company is obligated to provide the employee benefits while he or she is off of work (Iowa Code Section 85.33). Further, they are obligated to provide the employee benefits if he or she has a permanent injury (Iowa Code Section 85.34). All benefit payments are all based upon the employee’s average weekly wage.
Insurance carriers are notorious for calculating the average weekly wage in a manner that is advantageous to them and results in a reduced wage. By including short weeks, vacation weeks, or weeks in which the employee is sick, the insurance carrier can lower the rate at which they pay all Iowa Work Comp benefits. For these reasons, it’s important for the employee to look deep in to how the average weekly wage was computed and whether it is accurate. It has a significant impact on both the weekly checks received while the employee is off of work as well as the permanency benefits that the employee would receive if he or she has a permanent injury.
6. Do not fail to obtain a second opinion.
Under the Iowa Workers' Compensation laws, if the physician chosen by the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier or employer sets forth an opinion concerning the employee’s impairment rating and the rating is not believed to be accurate, the employee is entitled to a second opinion under Iowa Code Section 85.39. The Workers' Compensation insurance carrier is responsible for the expense of the second opinion exam. A second opinion is helpful as it may help the employee in terms of what care is most beneficial to them and also may affect the amount they are entitled to under the Iowa Workers' Compensation laws.
7. Do not assume that the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier is on the side of the injured employee.
It is important to note that the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier’s primary goal is to reduce the costs that are incurred as a result of the employee’s Iowa Workers' Compensation injury. The Insurance Company is not there to try and provide the employee as much benefits as possible or to maximize the employee’s recovery. Quite to the contrary, they are attempting to minimize the costs associated with the medical care, time off work, as well as permanency benefits. For this reason, it is always important that the employee be aware of this fact and to check and double check the information that he or she is being provided concerning the claim. An experienced Iowa Workers Compensation Attorney can provide extensive guidance to make sure the maximum amount of Iowa Work Comp benefits are paid.