Workers’ Compensation Laws Have Significantly Changed and Injured Workers Will Bear the Burden
At the request of Big Business (ABI- Association of Business and Industry, John Deere, Tyson Foods, etc.) and Insurance Companies (EMC, Travelers, etc.) Iowa lawmakers slashed benefits to injured workers. Most of the laws they changed have been in place since 1913 when the workers’ compensation act was first passed. In total, there were more than 20 changes made that will reduce compensation to injured workers.
If you have been or will be negatively impacted by this change in law, you need to contact your lawmakers and share your story. Visit www.IowaJustice.org/WorseComp
Read on for an overview of some of the most devastating changes in Iowa law:
Previously when an injured worker sustained a shoulder injury which resulted in surgery, permanent disability and permanent work restrictions they would be compensated based upon all of these factors along with their age, education, etc. However, under the new law the only factor that will matter is their functional impairment rating, just like finger injuries are treated. Any worker that sustains a shoulder injury after July 1, 2017 will most likely receive a very small amount of compensation (think 20 to 30 weeks of your take home pay) even if their injuries are so severe that they can never work again. This is regardless of whether the employer was negligent because workers’ compensation provides protection to employers if they are negligent. Employers are no longer responsible for harms that shoulder injuries cause their employees and push that responsibility onto the taxpayers of Iowa.
Under the new law, if you are offered a job at the same rate of pay that you were making before your injury, then your permanent benefits will be capped. This is true even if you are offered a job that you cannot physically do or it is a “made-up” job designed to humiliate you in an effort to get you to quit.
That’s right, under the new law, if you refuse to do the light duty work offered to you then you are required to put that refusal in writing at the time you refuse including the reason for the refusal. You better keep a copy and proof of delivery or you may forfeit your benefits. Most injured workers have no idea that this is a new requirement under the law.
Just verbally reporting your work injury to your supervisor may not be enough. Under the new law, unless the employer has actual knowledge within 90 days from when the injured worker knew or should have known the injury was work related, no compensation shall be allowed. It is the best policy to report your work injury in writing, specifically note what injuries were caused by your work, request medical care and keep a copy of what you provided to your employer because your case may depend upon it.
Under the new law, if you test positive for drugs or alcohol then you are presumed to be intoxicated at the time of the injury and your claim can be denied. Now it is the injured worker's burden to prove that drugs or alcohol did not cause the work injury.
There are many other parts of the new law that hurt injured workers, but we have limited space to tell you about a few of them in this overview.