NEW IOWA LAWS AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS TO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
The Iowa Legislature recently passed new laws that apply to all injuries that occur after July 1, 2017.
You need to know how these new laws can affect you. At a minimum, every employee should know the following basic rules.
1. Report all injuries immediately. First, you must report your injury as soon as you believe you have an injury. Though the law still allows you 90 days within which to report an injury, this 90 days begins to run from the day your injury “occurs.” An injury “occurs” on the day you first knew, or should have known, you suffered an injury.
Most injuries in a meatpacking plant are caused by repetitive reaching, pulling, gripping, lifting, bending or twisting. Under the new law, an injury may occur whenever you experience an ache or pain or other symptom that you believe is caused by your work. You must report these injuries immediately.
Don’t wait! If you are experiencing any aches or pains, or stiffness or weakness, in either of your shoulders, report your injury to the Company immediately. If you wait and report your problem after July 1, 2017, your rights to disability benefits may be greatly reduced. This is especially true for injuries to your shoulders. When you report your shoulder symptoms to the Company, make sure you tell them how your job is causing your symptoms.
Finally, when you report your injury, make sure your injury report is documented. Ask the Company to provide you with a copy of the written report of injury.
If you do not understand how to report an injury, or if you need assistance in reporting an injury, or if the Company refuses to accept an injury report, call the Union office immediately.
2. Return to work following an injury. If you suffer an injury that results in permanent disability, and the Company offers to return you to work, refusing the offer to return to work will likely result in a significant reduction in benefits. The best approach is to promptly accept the Company’s offer to return to work, do everything required of you to return to work with the Company, and call the Union immediately if you have any questions.
And remember, if the Company has paid you weekly workers’ compensation benefits, you have three (3) years from the date of last payment of benefits within which to file a petition for additional money benefits.
Under the new laws, it may be best for you to enter into what is known as an “agreement for settlement.” This may protect your right to future benefits if you are later terminated by the Company. If you have suffered a work injury causing permanent impairment, you should seek legal counsel immediately, to discuss whether an agreement for settlement is best for you.
3. Current injury claims, and for all injuries that occur and are
reported before July 1, 2017:
- These injury claims should not be affected by the reduction in benefits caused by the new laws.
4. Shoulder injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2017:
For all shoulder injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2017:
- Your right to benefits for permanent partial disability will be drastically reduced.
- Shoulder injuries on or after July 1, 2017, will now be compensated like an injury to your hand, arm, foot or leg. That is without regard to the effects of the injuries on your earning capacity.
5. Lesson learned. Report all injuries, all aches and pains, immediately. Do not wait. Report all injuries that you are currently experiencing before July 1, 2017.
6. Finally, you should seek legal counsel immediately
- If you’ve suffered a shoulder injury within the last 2 years and you’ve not received any compensation benefits, or
- If you’ve suffered a shoulder injury for which you’ve received payment of benefits within the last 3 years, or
- If you have any questions about how the changing workers’ compensation laws may affect you.
If you do not know how to report an injury, or if you are afraid to report an injury, call the Union office today.