If you live or work in Iowa, you may have heard about some recent (and controversial) changes proposed to how the state handles workers' compensation coverage. While certain proposals were recently signed into law by the Governor, the final resolution eliminated some of the language that had brought criticism from a variety of impacted groups. Read on to learn more about how workers' compensation laws have been changed in the Hawkeye State and what you'll need to expect if you submit a workers' compensation claim of your own.
What workers' compensation laws were recently changed in Iowa?
Lawmakers in Iowa, like those in many other states, have spent years tweaking and amending the state's workers' compensation laws and coverage limits in an effort to minimize any additional financial burden to employers while maintaining employees' ability to seek compensation for on-the-job injuries.
Recently, this effort turned toward minimizing attorneys' ability to collect fees from injured workers when workers' compensation payments were being voluntarily provided by the employer, as well as curtailing abuses of the workers' compensation system caused by workplace intoxication. These changes were designed to minimize the number of frivolous or non-qualifying claims filed and also eliminate the ability of attorneys to collect legal fees for payments that arguably would have been made even without the involvement or services of counsel.
Another major change enacted with this law is the end of a worker's ability to legally collect workers' compensation benefits while also receiving unemployment benefits. This "double-dipping" was previously legal but problematic, as it could often result in a windfall for the injured worker or keep him or her out of work longer than necessary in an effort to continue collecting benefits in lieu of working.
How can these changes impact your ability to file a workers' compensation claim?
If you've been injured on the job in Iowa, this recent law may have some effect on your claim. It can protect you from being assessed any fees by your attorney for payments made by your employer (or its workers' compensation insurer) prior to your attorney's involvement or which were voluntarily made.
It may also mean that, if you're alleged to have been injured while intoxicated at the workplace, the burden will now be on you to prove that your injury was not due to intoxication. Prior to the change in Iowa law, employers were often required to prove that a worker's injury was the result of their intoxication rather than another cause, making it hard for employers to avoid paying benefits even to those who were injured due only to their own negligence.
Talk to workers comp services for more information about your particular case and claim in your state.