Articles Posted in Review-Reopening Claims

Under Iowa workers’ compensation law a worker can bring a review-reopening action to obtain additional compensation after an open file settlement or trial award if his functional impairment or loss of earning capacity has increased.  The worker has to prove that his worsening condition was proximately caused by the original injury. The worsening can either be physical or a reduction in the worker’s earning capacity.

An interesting angle relating to review-reopening actions was addressed in the December 14, 2018 appeal decision of Hayes vs. Eagle Window & Door, Manufacturing, Inc. and Old Republic Insurance Company.  The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner ruled that a review-reopening action could be based on an injury that previously existed, but which was unknown or could not have been discovered by the exercise of reasonable diligence at the time of the prior settlement or award.

In the Hayes case the Claimant was originally injured back on July 20, 2010 when he received an electrocution injury while working.  The case went to hearing on May 6, 2013 and resulted in an award of 15 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits.  At the time of the May 6, 2013 arbitration hearing the doctors had only identified that the Claimant had incurred minor bilateral arm injuries from the electrocution.

The first blog post I ever wrote over six years ago was entitled, “The Most Important Work Comp Advice: Always Tell the Truth.”  You can read that blog post here.  There are very few perfect work comp cases, and I am very comfortable addressing the weaknesses in my cases.  However, if a work comp judge decides that a claimant is not honest, then the case is in big trouble.

The Work Comp Commissioner issued an appeal decision in the case of Hall v. Apple Creek Kennel and Travelers Property Casualty Company of America on June 29, 2018.  The claimant was found to be dishonest, but fortunately for her just managed to avoid having her workers’ compensation benefits taken away.  All of the risk and danger could have been avoided if the claimant had been straightforward in her testimony.

The story started back on April 21, 2013.  The claimant was 32 years old and was working as a veterinary assistant.  This was a type of job she had generally worked since she graduated from high school.

This post will discuss the combination of three Iowa work comp legal doctrines.

First, under Iowa workers’ compensation law there is a special type of claim called a Second Injury Fund claim that allows a worker to receive industrial disability benefits for scheduled injuries.  The requirements for a Second Injury Fund claim are as follows:

  1. The worker has to have a prior injury to a hand, arm, foot, leg, or eye. This first injury can be from a work injury, a sports injury, a motor vehicle accident or from any source.

Unfortunately, injuries will sometimes worsen after a workers’ compensation case is resolved.  The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner recently issued an Appeal Decision in the case of Dautovic v. Concord Hospitality and PMA Insurance Group and Zurich American Insurance which analyzes the legal implications of a worsening injury.

The claimant in Dautovic began working for a Marriott Hotel run by Concord Hospitality in 1997.  The claimant’s job involved a lot of heavy work including deep cleaning of rooms and hallways, working with laundry, and moving furniture.

The claimant originally injured his low back on the job in early 2006 when lifting a bed frame.

Under Iowa workers’ compensation law if there has been a change of condition in a worker’s situation since the case was settled or went to hearing the worker can receive additional disability benefits.  The worker needs to show that the change in condition was related to the original injury.  The change can be either economic or physical.

The recent case of Dante Toriello v. Mercy Medical Center is an interesting example of a review-reopening situation.

Dante Toriello was an osteopathic physician and surgeon who was employed by Mercy Medical Center. In 2006 Dr. Toriello injured his neck while performing an osteopathic manipulation on a patient. Dr. Toriello was 58 at the time of the injury.

For our Iowa Workers’ Compensation Lawyer blog, I am going to try to regularly write about important recent Iowa Workers’ Comp cases and other legal developments. As I thought about picking my first “legal update” topic, it struck me that the biggest case of the last decade probably happened a few years ago. Kohlhaas v. Hog Slat, Inc., 777 N.W.2d 387 (Iowa 2009) made an important big change in Iowa Workers’ Compensation law relating to review-reopenings.

A review-reopening is a type of workers’ compensation claim in which a worker who previously settled his claim, or received an award; can later bring a review-reopening action to try to obtain additional compensation based on a worsening of the original work injury.

For a number of years prior to the Kohlhaas decision workers were required to prove two main points in order to succeed in their review-reopening claim: