Time Limits in Iowa Work Comp Cases

In Iowa workers’ compensation cases there are two different sets of time limits that you have to comply with. First, if you are injured you need to give your employer notice of your injury within 90 days of the injury. Second, if you are an injured worker you also need to file a Workers’ Compensation petition within either two years of the date of injury, or three years of the last payment of weekly benefits.

These time limits are somewhat like a shot clock in basketball. A shot after the clock has run out does not count. If an injured worker gives their notice of injury after the 90 day time limit, or files a petition after the time limit, the worker’s claim may be denied, and the injured worker will not be entitled to receive any workers’ compensation benefits.

NOTICE REQUIREMENTS. Iowa Code Section 85.23 sets out the requirements concerning notice. Basically the statute requires that an injured worker needs to give formal written notice of the injury within 90 days that complies with the statutory requirements unless the employer has “actual knowledge of notice of an injury within ninety days” from the date of injury. The requirements of the written notice are set out in Iowa Code Section 85.24.

The option of “actual knowledge” can be satisfied if someone involved in management such as a foreman is aware that there was a work injury.

STATUTE OF LIMITATION REQUIREMENTS. In addition to the notice requirement, if a worker wants to pursue benefits he also needs to file a Workers’ Compensation petition within certain time limits. “Statute of limitations” is just the lawyer way of describing the time limit for filing a petition to start the process of eventually having a trial.

Iowa Code Section 85.26
sets out the Iowa requirements concerning the statute of limitations. There are two different time limits for filing a petition depending on the facts of the case. If the employee was never paid weekly benefits he needs to file his petition within two years of the date of injury.

Alternately, if the worker was paid weekly workers’ compensation benefits for the claim, then the time limit for filing a petition is three years from the date of the last payment of weekly workers’ compensation benefits.

EXCEPTIONS AND EXTENSIONS TO THE NOTICE AND STATUTE OF LIMITATION REQUIREMENTS. There are a number of special rules that can give the worker additional time for giving notice or filing a petition beyond the standard time limits set out above. For example, an injured worker might think that an injury was not serious and that it would clear up on its own. Under the right circumstances in a situation like this the injury date that starts all of the time limits might be interpreted to be the date when the employee became aware that his injury was serious. By delaying what is considered to be the injury date the worker receives additional time to give notice and file a petition.

There are also additional exceptions that can extend the time limits.

However, it is a dangerous idea for an injured worker to rely on an exception for extending the time limits. If a worker is hurt on the job, he should be sure to give notice of the injury within 90 days of the injury, or as soon as the worker is aware that he is hurt, or makes the connection that the problem might be work related.

Similarly, the worker needs to keep in mind the time limits for filing an Iowa work comp petition.

It is always a good idea to talk to a lawyer early on to review the specifics of your case, and figure out the time limits that apply in your case, and the specific steps and amount of time necessary to be able to comply with the time limits.