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The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner entered an appeal decision on November 29, 2017 in the case of Heim v. A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co.  The main issue in the Heim case was whether the worker had suffered permanent total disability.

Under Iowa law permanent total disability does not mean that a worker is injured so severely that they are helpless.  Instead, the test is whether the injury disables the employee from performing the type of work that their experience, training, education, intelligence and prior physical ability would otherwise permit them to perform.  (See here for a longer explanation of how pre-July 1, 2017 permanent total disability injuries are analyzed under the workers’ compensation system.  See here for an explanation of the change in how injuries are analyzed for post-July 1, 2017 Iowa work comp injuries.)

The claimant in the Heim case was 63 years old at the time of the workers’ compensation trial.  His formal education ended with high school.  His work history had generally involved physically demanding jobs.

Unfortunately, employers and work comp insurance carriers end up filing for bankruptcy.  We have added a new section to our website that talks about the two main variations of this problem and how our law firm deals with them.

The first situation is where an employer files for bankruptcy while having a work comp insurance policy that has a very high deductible.  Our law firm has successfully argued that Iowa law makes both the employer and the insurance carrier jointly and severally responsible for all of the workers’ compensation liability, including the deductible.  Therefore, our law firm has been successful in persuading reluctant insurance companies to pay the entire claim.

The second problem area is when the workers’ compensation insurance carrier becomes insolvent.  The insolvency of the insurance company does lead to delays. However, the Iowa Insurance Guaranty Association does step in to cover for the insolvent insurance company.  Our law firm has had good success in dealing with the Insurance Guaranty Association.

lCNAs have very physically demanding jobs that lead to a wide variety of work injuries.  We have posted a new section in our website discussing Iowa workers’ compensation cases involving injuries to CNAs.

The new section talks about causes of workers’ compensation injuries to Certified Nursing Assistants.  This section also deals with the recurring issue of aggravations of pre-existing injuries in CNA cases.  This section also discusses the Iowa law that determines the amount of work comp benefits that an injured CNA is entitled to receive.  You can view the new section on CNA injuries here.

This is a continuation of the list I started in my post of May 16, 2013, and which you can see here.

Terry Funderburk. I started attending Wahlert High School in Dubuque, Iowa as a freshman in 1974. I had been a very mediocre junior high wrestler, but I enjoyed it, and I went out for the Wahlert wrestling team. Terry Funderburk was a first year coach, and the Wahlert wrestling team had fallen on hard times, and Terry had a challenge in front of him.

Terry did a great job in getting people to come out for the team which gave Wahlert the numbers to at least be able to compete at every weight level. Terry was also excellent at teaching wrestling skills, and motivating young people to try their best. The team was 8-4 that first year, and I believe always had a winning record during Terry’s years.

This list is obviously not going to be complete. There are hundreds of family members, friends, employers, co-workers, teachers and others who have made big contributions. I am just going to try to talk about the people who had the biggest roles in helping me.

BILL AND SHARON HAMEL. I was very fortunate to be born to the best parents in the world. I am fairly smart, and I definitely got that from both of them. They also taught me to work hard, try to do a good job, be kind and fair to people, and don’t give up in the face of challenges and problems.

I don’t have a 100% success rate on implementing these things my parents taught me, and I am entirely capable of making mistakes. However, all my weaknesses are things that I developed on my own.