Prior to July 1, 2017 work injuries to an employee’s shoulder were treated as an unscheduled injury. The classification of an injury as unscheduled is very important because it generally leads to a higher level of compensation. In unscheduled injuries the standard for determining the amount of workers’ compensation is how much the injury has a negative effect on the worker’s ability to obtain a new job in the competitive job market.
In addition to unscheduled injuries, Iowa law also has a second category called scheduled injuries. The scheduled injuries are a list of body parts consisting of the arm, hand, fingers, leg, foot, toes, eyes, and hearing. Each body part is given a maximum value. For instance, an index finger is worth a maximum of 35 weeks. If an employee loses his entire index finger in a work accident, then the employee is entitled to 35 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. If a worker suffers an injury to his index finger that results in a 10% impairment of the index finger, then the worker is entitled to 3.5 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. (35 weeks x 10% = 3.5 weeks).
All injuries to body parts which are not in this schedule are considered to be unscheduled injuries. These include injuries to the head, neck, and torso. Under Iowa law injuries to the hip are still considered unscheduled, and injuries to the shoulder were traditionally considered as unscheduled.