This fund was created for those who, in separate instances, have suffered from two different scheduled injuries.
If, during the course of your employment, you injured your hands, feet, legs, arms, or eyes, you have suffered what Iowa law refers to as a "scheduled injury." Your work injury is "scheduled" because the injured body part is listed on a schedule of workers' compensation benefits which identifies the number of weeks of financial compensation available to you.
For example, if you injure your arm, you are entitled to up to 250 weeks of workers' compensation benefits; a leg injury qualifies you for up to 220 weeks of benefits. The number of benefit weeks was set by the Iowa legislature many years ago. Thus, for an arm injury at work, your doctor will determine the portion or percentage of the 250 weeks of benefits for which you are entitled to compensation. This assessment stands even if that injury prevents you from continuing in your chosen occupation.
Many injured workers only receive benefits for a handful of weeks, but are terminated because they can no longer perform the essential functions of their job. Obviously, this is an unfair outcome for the injured worker and their family.
Because of the injustice of losing your job and obtaining only a small percentage of weekly benefits, the Iowa legislature created the Second Injury Fund. This fund helps if you have previously had a different injury to your hand, foot, arm, leg, or eye.
Please note that the initial injury to a foot, hand, leg, arm, or eye need not be due to a workplace injury. Indeed, we have represented many workers who have childhood injuries or birth defects which have established their right to additional benefits under the Second Injury Fund.
Iowa law in this area has been rapidly changing due to recent decisions by the Iowa Supreme Court. Fortunately, these decisions have actually expanded your rights to workers' compensation under Iowa law. The most significant difference between a Second Injury Fund and a scheduled injury claim is that you are now allowed to argue and produce evidence that the combination of your first and second injuries have had a significant impact on your ability to earn a living, and that impact is measured on the basis of 500 weeks.
If you have suffered an injury to your legs, feet, arms, hands, or eyes, it's important to consult with an attorney who knows Iowa law and understands Second Injury Fund claims. We can determine your eligibility for additional compensation from the Second Injury Fund. The attorneys at Wertz Law Firm have handled many of these claims and would be happy to discuss your case at any time.