If you believe you have suffered from a work-related injury or illness, the first thing you should do is report the injury to your employer. Iowa law requires injured workers to report an on-the-job injury within 90 days of the injury. There are circumstances which can alter this 90-day requirement, however, as soon as you suspect you have suffered from a work-related injury or condition, you should report that injury right away. If your employer has a work-injury reporting form, you should complete that form and keep a copy for your records. If no form is available, you should tell the employer about the injury and provide them with something in writing explaining that you were hurt at work and that you would like medical treatment for your injury. Keep a copy of any written notice you provide and take notes about who you told, when, and what they said in response.
When reporting an injury in a non-emergency situation, you should request approval to see a physician and ask the employer where they would like you to obtain treatment. In Iowa, the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier have the right to direct your medical care. Generally, this right includes the ability to select the first physician who provides treatment. Many injured workers unknowingly choose to see their own family physician or go to a local clinic for treatment. However, unless the employer or the insurance company have directed you to a particular place for treatment, they may be able to avoid paying for your medical treatment. Additionally, they may refuse to honor restrictions or work-releases from unauthorized physicians. It is very important you obtain authorization for any non-emergency medical treatment you seek. If your employer refuses to submit your claim to the insurance company or refuses to direct you to an authorized doctor within a reasonable time period, you should contact an attorney.
Your rights and obligations under the workers’ compensation system can be complicated and highly dependent on your specific circumstances. It is important that you gather as much information about the system as possible following an injury by reviewing the information on this website or by contacting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Contact us for a consultation.