Under Iowa law head and back injuries are both compensated under an industrial disability analysis. Industrial disability tries to measure a worker’s loss of earning capacity, and not just the functional disability from an injury. Functional impairment is an element to be considered in determining the loss of earning capacity, but consideration must also be given to the injured worker’s age, education, qualifications, experience, motivation, loss of earnings, severity situs of the injury, work restrictions, inability to engage in employment for which the worker is fitted, and the employer’s offer of work or failure to so offer. Loss of industrial disability/loss of earning capacity is paid as a percentage of 500 weeks.
In the recent July 3, 2018 appeal decision of Bahe v. Iowa Department of Transportation, the Workers Compensation Commissioner affirmed a decision relating to a case in which the worker suffered both a head injury and back injuries.
The claimant was injured while operating a snow plow during a blizzard as part of his job with the DOT. The snow plow went off the road and into a ditch. The claimant was unconscious when he was found by emergency responders. The medical providers documented that he had a large contusion on the top of his head. The initial assessment by the doctors was that the claimant had suffered a closed head injury and concussion.