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.