Iowa is what is known as a “no-fault system.” Under this type of system, the issue is not whether the employer or you or some combination of both were “to blame” for your injuries. The only issues are whether your injury arose out of and in the course of your employment. Indeed, even if your injury is brought about by your own unsafe practices, such as lifting a box in the wrong way, or failing to use a safety guard on a power tool, workers’ compensation benefits are available under our law. While there are certainly exceptions for individuals who are engaged in intentional and irresponsible conduct, or those who are intoxicated or intentionally hurt themselves, the general rule is to compensate people no matter what the circumstances or reasons for the injury.
To be determined that your injury is compensable, the Iowa Supreme Court has consistently held, “The injury must not have coincidentally occurred while at work, but must in some way be caused by or related to the working environment.” Stated another way, the Court had indicated the employee ‘need only show that the injury occurred as a result of a condition or requirement of the injured worker’s employment.” This requirement is not restrictive and is intended to provide benefits to injured workers in almost all situations.
Indeed, the Iowa courts have allowed compensability for an injured worker who missed a step coming downstairs at her employer’s, fell and was injured. The Iowa Supreme Court held that the injured worker was required to be on the staircase as part of her employment. Being on a staircase which caused her to fall down the staircase increased the risk of her injury. The Court held that this injured worker was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because her employment placed her in a position that had increased the risk of her injury.
Iowa law is expansive and is interpreted to allow injured workers to obtain benefits as often as possible. If you have any questions regarding whether you may have a workers’ compensation claim, you should contact an attorney who has a high level of experience in analyzing and trying workers’ compensation cases.