Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation Injuries

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner filed an appeal decision on January 10, 2020 in the case of Sherilyn Fasig Snitker v. Birdnow Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Birdnow Motors and Seabright Insurance Co.  The case is an example of how an injury will be compensated differently for someone that does physical labor versus someone who has a lighter duty job.

The claimant worked as a car salesperson.  She injured her low back on February 8, 2013 when she fell on the car lot.

The claimant underwent six weeks of physical therapy that did not help her condition.  She then had an MRI which showed a number of problems in the lumbar spine.

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner filed an appeal decision on December 19, 2019 in the case of Nguyen v. Des Moines Public Schools and EMC Risk Services.  I think the case is a good example of the situation where there are a lot of complicated and conflicting factors that the Work Comp Commissioner has to take into account in assessing the extent of damages.

In this case the claimant was a 34 year old woman who was born in Vietnam.  She graduated from high school and attended one year of college in Vietnam.  When the claimant was 18 she married her husband moved with him to the United States. The claimant became a U.S. Citizen in 2008.

The claimant has never taken any formal language classes, but speaks English well.  The claimant explained that she has more difficulty reading and writing the English language.

On November 25, 2019 the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner entered a very interesting appeal decision in the case of Myron Meader v. Second Injury Fund of Iowa which involves a Second Injury Fund claim.

The short version of how Second Injury Fund claims work is as follows:

  1. The injured worker has to have a previous injury to an arm, hand, leg, foot, or eye. This first injury does not have to be as a result of a work accident.

The details of workers’ compensation cases are critical, and our lawyers are always available for no cost and no obligation discussions. However, in this post I am going to try to answer the most common questions that we receive.

WORK COMP BENEFITS

What are the work comp benefits I am entitled to receive? There are three main areas of benefits:

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner filed an interesting appeal decision on November 1, 2019 in the case of Peckham v. Roberts Construction and Auto Owners Insurance Group.  The claimant was helping to build a home addition when he fell from an elevated position on July 6, 2013 and suffered severe injuries to his ankles and knees that required surgery.

The case went to trial in front of a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.  The Deputy found that the claimant’s knee and ankle injuries constituted bilateral leg injuries.  The bilateral injuries needed to be assessed pursuant to Iowa Code Section 85.34(2)(s) and were worth a maximum of 500 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits.  The Deputy found that the worker had suffered a 20% whole person impairment from his ankle and knee injuries and therefore was awarded 100 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits.  (500 weeks x 20% = 100 weeks).

The Deputy found that the claimant did not prove that he had suffered injuries to his back or hips.

The Iowa legislature enacted a number of new work comp laws that took effect on July 1, 2017.  See here for a summary of the new laws. These new laws apply to injuries that occur on and after July 1, 2017.

A number of cases in which the new laws apply have been tried at the Deputy Commissioner level.  The case of Reiter v. Incorporated City of Remsen and EMC Insurance involves a stipulated shoulder injury.  The Reiter case interprets and applies two of the legal changes.

The first change is Iowa Code Section 85.34(2)(x) which provides:

On September 25, 2019 the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in favor of one of my clients where we were requesting a second IME at the expense of the Defendants in the case of Ostwinkle v. Mathy Construction Company.

The background of the case is as follows.  The worker suffered an accepted low back injury on July 23, 2013.

On August 12, 2016 Chad Abernathey, M.D. provided an impairment rating for the Employer and Insurance Carrier.

The Supreme Court filed a very interesting decision on May 31, 2019 in the case of Robert W. Milas, M.D. v. Society Insurance and Angela Bonlander.

Dr. Milas brought a lawsuit against a workers’ compensation insurance company and one of its adjusters alleging that they went back on a promise to pay Dr. Milas $14,325.87 for a complex neck surgery, and that those actions constituted both breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Dr. Milas is a board-certified neurosurgeon in the Quad Cities.  The disputes began when Society Insurance hired Dr. Milas to perform a neck surgery for an injured worker.

Under Iowa law if the payment of weekly benefits to an injured employee is denied, delayed or terminated, and the employer cannot show a reasonable cause or excuse, then the injured worker is entitled to be awarded penalty benefits.  Penalty benefits are in addition to the benefits that were not properly paid.  The penalty benefits can be up to 50% of the amount of the weekly benefits that were not properly paid.  The exact amount of the penalty benefits is up to the discretion of the work comp judges.

Unfortunately, some employers and insurance companies do a very poor job of paying weekly benefits in the correct amount and in a timely manner.

Set out below is a modified version of a Post Trial Brief I filed in a case involving very serious injuries and terrible compliance by the insurance company in paying the benefits that were owed.  I have changed the names and dates for privacy purposes.

Today I just have a short post about a new Iowa law designed to overrule an Iowa Supreme Court case that was decided on November 21, 2018. The case in question is Bluml v. Dee Jay’s, Inc. d/b/a Long John Silvers and Commerce & Industry Insurance Company. I wrote about the Bluml case back on November 21, 2018. You can see my entire article about the Bluml case here.

Part of my take-away from the Bluml case was that the Iowa Supreme Court helped sort out how different types of falls would be handled in Iowa workers’ compensation cases:
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