Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Fighting For The Benefits You Deserve
More than a century ago, the Iowa legislature created the workers’ compensation system. Their goal was to ensure people who suffered injuries on the job were appropriately compensated for their losses. Today, there are three general types of benefits available to injured workers: medical care, healing period benefits and permanency benefits.
If you have been injured at work – regardless of who is at fault – you have the right to compensation. Unfortunately, some employers and insurance companies want to make it as difficult as possible for you to claim the benefits you are legally entitled to. For this and other reasons, it can be very helpful to work with a skilled attorney like ours at Wertz Law Firm, P.C. We have successfully advocated for injured workers in disputes with hundreds of employers and insurers across Iowa. We want to advocate for you, too.
What To Know About Seeking Medical Care And Benefits After Your Injury
If you’re injured, be sure to report that injury to your employer as soon as possible. Reports must generally be made within 90 days of the event. There are, however, several factors that may extend that 90-day requirement. For example, if your injury develops over time or you don’t recognize the extent of an injury, you still may be able to claim benefits.
If your injury is work-related, your employer and its insurer are responsible for paying for all medical treatment recommended by physicians, including any diagnostic tests or prescription medications. However, these two parties may choose the physician who provides initial treatment for your injury, and you must see an authorized physician in order to have your medical bills covered.
What Do You Do When Employers And Insurers Don’t Act In Good Faith?
One common problem is that employers may not “authorize” you to see any doctor after an injury. Another issue we see occurs when a company doctor recommends a certain treatment, but the employer or insurance company will not authorize that treatment. This routinely happens when doctors order additional testing, prescribe medication, or refer injured workers to a specialist.
If you haven’t been authorized to see any doctor, or the care recommended by the company doctor is not being promptly provided, reach out to our attorneys so we can help you resolve these problems as soon as possible. In the meantime, document everything you can. Save all your paperwork, receipts, bills and email correspondence. The more information you have, the stronger your case.
You Can Be Reimbursed For Mileage
If your work injury is not being disputed by your employer, you are entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses related to your treatment. This typically involves payment based on the number of miles traveled to and from medical and physical therapy appointments. Frequently, injured workers are told that because they are only traveling a short distance for their appointment, they are not entitled to workers’ compensation mileage reimbursement. This is not true. If the employer or insurance company is not paying your mileage expenses, this may mean there are other benefits you are being denied as well.
Sometimes an injury or medication will prevent an injured worker from driving themselves to and from appointments. If this is the case for you, the employer or insurance company must provide you with transportation to and from medical appointments, and in some cases, to and from any light-duty work you are being offered.
Understanding Available Monetary Benefits
In addition to the right to medical care, there are four types of monetary benefits an injured worker may be owed. They may include:
- Temporary total disability: If an employer-approved physician restricts you from working for more than three days due to your injury (even non-consecutive days), you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits. Once you have missed more than three days due to the physician’s restrictions, the employer or its insurance company should begin issuing you a workers’ comp check on a weekly basis.
- Temporary partial disability: You are entitled to these benefits when your employer returns you back to work following an injury or you are making less money on “light duty” than before your injury.
- Permanent partial disability: When you complete your medical treatment, but you have not fully recovered from your injury, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits. If you still have symptoms or limitations as a result of your injury, you should be evaluated by the employer’s physician for a functional impairment rating.
- Total disability: If your work injury prevents you from returning to full-time employment, you may be entitled to total disability benefits. In such a case, you should receive weekly compensation for the rest of your life. However, employers and insurance companies never provide this compensation voluntarily.
The different kinds of workers’ compensation benefits owed depend upon your circumstances. The weekly benefit amount will depend on your wages prior to your injury.
What Will Your Weekly Benefit Amount Be?
If you’re injured, your weekly benefit amount (WBA) is an extremely important factor in your workers’ compensation claim. Except in rare circumstances, the WBA is what you’ll receive on a weekly basis for both your healing period and permanency benefits.
As long as the amount is calculated correctly, it is not subject to change, and there is no cost of living increase included. Because the WBA is such an important factor, it is critical the amount be properly calculated the first time.
According to the workers’ compensation statutes, there are numerous ways weekly benefits can be calculated. Unfortunately, we often discover the WBA has been miscalculated for our clients. These miscalculations by the insurance company can shortchange injured workers by several dollars, or even hundreds of dollars, per week.
Due to the importance of a proper weekly benefit calculation, we recommend you review the calculations with an attorney experienced in Iowa workers’ compensation and in calculating benefits.
Contact Us Today For A Free Consultation
Wertz Law Firm, P.C., offers free initial consultations, and we take workers’ compensation cases on a contingency fee basis. That means you owe no legal fees until and unless we help you claim benefits. To speak with one of our skilled and caring attorneys about your options, call our office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at 319-774-2687. You can also reach out online.