For injuries that occurred prior to July 1, 2017 the rules for when a workers’ compensation claim can be brought in Iowa law can be found here on our website.
For injuries that occurred on or after July 1, 2017 the rules have changed. Fewer trucks drivers can now bring claims in Iowa. Iowa Code Section 85.71 provides that where a truck driver is injured outside the State of Iowa, the truck driver is only entitled to bring a claim under Iowa law if at the time of the injury one of the following are applicable:
- The employer has a place of business in the state and the employee regularly works at or from that place of business.
- The employee is working under a contract of hire made in this state and the employee regularly works in this state.
- The employee is working under a contract of hire made in this state and sustains an injury for which no remedy is available under the workers’ compensation laws of another state.
- The employee is working under a contract of hire made in this state for employment outside the United States.
- The employer has a place of business in Iowa, and the employee is working under a contract of hire which provides that the employee’s workers’ compensation claims be governed by Iowa law.
Jurisdiction based on options 1 and 2 are the most common. For option 1 it is fairly easy to tell if the employer has a place of business in Iowa. Similarly, for option 2 we can usually tell whether the contract of hire was made in Iowa. The fighting issue for both options 1 and 2 are whether the injured worker “regularly” works in the state of Iowa.
In the case of Annett Holdings, Inc. v. Allen, 738 N.W.2d 647 (Iowa App, 2007) the Iowa Court of Appeals interpreted the word “regularly” in the statute. The trucking company argued that “regularly” should mean that the injured employee worked in Iowa at least half of the time.
The Iowa Court of Appeals found that if the Iowa legislature had intended for the term “regularly” to mean some definite percentage, they could have used such language in the statute. The Court adopted the reasoning of the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner who held:
“I find that claimant regularly worked in Iowa for the employer. It was usual and customary for him to pick up the loads in Iowa and drive through Iowa with loads. He brought the truck to the employer’s Iowa terminal and reported there himself in conformity with the employer’s established procedures. He was controlled by the employer’s dispatcher. The amount and frequency of claimant’s work in Iowa was not so minor as to characterize it as irregular, out of the ordinary, unusual or abnormal.”
Additionally, the Commissioner found that the injured truck driver probably worked in Iowa between 10% and 25% of the time.
The Commissioner and the Court of Appeals both found that working in Iowa between 10% and 25% of the time was sufficient to qualify as “regularly” working in the State of Iowa. Therefore, the injured truck driver was entitled to bring a workers’ compensation claim in Iowa.
If you have any questions about truck driving injuries, or other workers’ compensation issues, please be sure to contact our office.