Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation Injuries

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.

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner issued an appeal decision on November 20, 2017 in the case of Kvidera v. Windows By Pella, Inc. and Selective Insurance Company of the Southeast.  The case involved a claimant who was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident while driving a work truck.  The issue in the case was whether he had deviated from his employment duties to such an extent that he would no longer be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.

Under Iowa law there is generally no work comp coverage for employees while they are commuting to and from work.

However, Iowa law does provide that a worker who is required to travel for his job does have workers’ compensation protection from the time they leave their home until they return to their home.

Our website has a new section that discusses the Iowa work comp law relating to permanent total disability.  The new section covers:

  1. The general law on permanent total disability cases.
  1. How older workers frequently are more likely to receive a permanent total disability award.

Under Iowa workers’ compensation law most of the injuries that occur to a truck driver while he is on the road will be considered to be a work injury which entitles the truck driver to work comp benefits.

Truck driving is very strenuous and dangerous work.  Truck drivers can be injured in a wide variety of ways, and many of the injuries are very serious.  Additionally, the legal issues surrounding work comp injuries to truck drivers are very complex.

We have added a new section to our website that discusses the many issues that come up in workers’ compensation litigation involving truck drivers, including:

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.

A large part of my practice involves back and neck claims. Injuries to the back or neck frequently have a serious negative impact on a worker’s ability to continue to do their job.

We have added a new section to our website that discusses many issues that come up in litigation involving back or neck claims, including:

1. Types of back and neck injuries.

The human shoulder has a tremendous range of motion that allows us to perform a wide variety of activities. However, the shoulder is a very complex joint that can be hurt on the job from a wide variety of causes. Shoulder injuries are classified as unscheduled injuries and are therefore compensated based on the effect of the injury on a worker’s loss of future potential earning capacity.

We have added a new section to our website that talks about liability and payment for damages for shoulder injuries under Iowa workers’ compensation law. You can see this new section here.

Cumulative trauma and repetitive stress injuries can develop in a wide variety of jobs. Numerous factors can create an increased risk of a worker developing such injuries including high production requirements, frequent lifting and poor ergonomics. Cumulative trauma can result in injuries to many body parts including the neck, shoulders, back and hands.

We have added a new section to our website that discusses Iowa work comp law involving cumulative trauma and repetitive stress injuries. You can see this new section here.

Today I am going to talk about some special legal issues that come up in cases where an older worker is hurt on the job.

The first issue is the effect that the age of an injured worker has in assessing how much money they should receive. The first part of the answer is that age is not a factor if a worker has an injury to a scheduled body part such as an arm, hand, finger, leg, foot or toe. However, if an older worker has an injury to an unscheduled body part such as a neck, shoulder, back or hip, then age becomes an important factor. See here for a longer discussion about the difference between scheduled and unscheduled injuries.

If the older worker has an unscheduled injury then figuring out how much compensation should be paid requires analyzing the effect of the injury on the worker’s earning capacity. The factors that are generally assessed in determining the loss of earning capacity from the injury are:

I ran across a short article in our local paper that Supreme Court of Australia had denied workers’ compensation benefits to a government employee who was injured while having sex in her hotel room on a business trip. The article explained that the government employee was injured when a glass light fitting above the bed fell on her and injured her. The Australian Supreme Court ruled that the key question in the case was whether the employer had induced or encouraged the employee to engage in the activity that led to the injury, and concluded that the Australian government had not. You can look here for a longer explanation of the case.

I started thinking about whether the claim would have turned out the same way in Iowa. As a general matter you need to be engaged in duties on behalf of your employer at the time of your injury in order to receive work comp benefits.

However, Iowa work comp law has developed a different set of rules for employees who are traveling on behalf of their employer. Ward v. Numanco, File No. 50011677 (App. Dec., August 14, 2006) is an important case in which the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner summarizes the work comp law relating to traveling employees. The case explains that a worker whose job requires them to travel away from their employers premises are generally considered to be covered for workers’ compensation purposes continuously during the trip, except when there is a deviation for a personal errand.