In some Iowa work comp cases foot or leg injuries end up causing low back problems to the injured worker because of changes in their gait. Iowa workers’ compensation law provides that if a worker suffers an injury to one part of the body that ends up causing an injury to a second part of the body, both of the injured body parts are compensable under Iowa work comp law. The most common type of a spill over injury is a worker who injures his foot or leg and ends up with a limp. Sometimes the limp will unfortunately cause hip or low back problems. In this situation the worker is entitled to receive compensation for both the original leg injury and the later back injury that develops as a result of the limp.
Additionally, an injury to a scheduled member that results in an injury to an unscheduled member will be treated as a combined unscheduled injury. For example, if the worker injures his leg, the maximum recovery the worker can receive is 220 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. If the worker has a 10% impairment of the leg, he is therefore entitled to 22 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits.
If the same worker’s leg injury causes back problems, the injury to both the leg and back shift out of the scheduled injury category to the unscheduled category. For unscheduled injuries the worker is entitled to be compensated for the extent to which the injuries affect the worker’s future earning capacity. Generally, a worker will receive higher compensation for an unscheduled injury than for a scheduled injury.