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A Shoulder Injury Can Change Your Career. Let Us Help You With Your Claim.

Injuries to the shoulders and upper back are common in jobs that involve significant lifting and reaching or similar movements. Such injuries can make it temporarily or permanently impossible to keep doing this work, and are often associated with significant chronic pain. Unfortunately, Iowa’s workers’ compensation laws were changed in 2017 in ways that make it harder for workers with shoulder injuries to get the compensation they need. Now more than ever, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney for a shoulder injury claim. Our lawyers at Wertz Law Firm, P.C. have over 60 years of combined legal experience, and we serve clients across Iowa.

Law Changes After July 2017 To Permanent Shoulder Injuries

Laws that went into effect July 1, 2017, dramatically affect how permanent shoulder injuries are to be compensated. Permanent shoulder injuries before this date were compensated on the basis of loss of earning capacity/loss of access to the labor market. The newer laws attempt to make permanent shoulder injuries compensated on a schedule of 400 weeks. We say “attempt” because the law is very poorly written and subject to a wide range of interpretation. It will be up to our courts to eventually decide what the new shoulder law means, and it will likely take several years for the courts to make this determination.

The defense industry is saying an injury to the shoulder resulting in permanent injury is to be compensated on the basis of a scheduled injury of 400 weeks. That means the basis of compensation is a doctor’s rating. So, if a doctor rates a permanent shoulder injury at 10%, the result is 10% of 400, or 40 weeks of weekly compensation. It does not matter if the injury prevents the injured worker from returning to their job. The doctor’s rating is the only criterion for compensation. Under the old law, a permanent shoulder injury was considered an injury to the body as a whole and, while the doctor’s rating was a factor to consider in compensation, there were other factors such as whether the injured worker could return to the job, permanent restrictions, access to the labor market, and many others. In addition, the claims before July 2017 were based upon a percentage of 500 weeks, or even lifetime payments for total disability. These new laws are designed to benefit insurance companies and employers.

All is not lost in seeking fair compensation for a permanent shoulder injury. The new laws do not define a shoulder. So, even though a doctor may refer to the injury as a “shoulder” injury, there may be a credible argument the injury is to the body as a whole. In doing so, if an injury merits compensation for a permanent injury beyond a doctor’s rating, there is a realistic argument for greater benefits. This will no doubt necessitate the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney like those at our firm.

Talk To Us About Your Case For Free

It is very unfortunate that these updated laws were passed. However, if you have a permanent work injury involving a shoulder, you should not hesitate to contact our attorneys at Wertz Law Firm, P.C. to assist you with determining if you have been fairly compensated. To schedule your free initial consultation, call our office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at 319-774-2687 or reach out online.