If you have suffered a work-related injury in Iowa, it may be possible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical care and loss of income during your recovery and disability periods. These benefits are available to most workers in the state, but how can you know for sure if you qualify? Here, we explain who is considered an employee and how to determine if you are eligible for this important compensation.
Most Employers Are Required to Provide Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Nearly all employers are required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance in the state of Iowa to provide for employees who are injured at work. Any employee of a company that is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance could be eligible to obtain a number of different types of benefits.
Only Employees Can Obtain Iowa Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Generally, workers are considered employees and can obtain medical care payment and wage reimbursement if they meet any of three requirements, which include:
- They were hired in Iowa.
- They are working in Iowa.
- They are working for a company primarily based in Iowa.
In certain situations, a worker is not considered an employee of the business or is otherwise ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These ineligible workers include:
- Domestic and casual employees who earn less than $1,500 from the employer in the months prior to the injury.
- Certain agricultural employees.
- Exchange laborers.
- Police officers and firefighters entitled to other state benefits.
- A sole proprietor or partner of a business.
- Members of a limited liability company.
- Independent contractors.
While independent contractors are typically ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits, there are certain situations in which these workers could successfully pursue a workers’ compensation claim. State law mandates that the nature of the job duties, not the title of the position, dictates eligibility. If the employer controls the type of work and the hours, offers health benefits, provides weekly or monthly paychecks, and determines other circumstances surrounding the job, the worker may still be considered an employee and thus eligible for benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Covers Only Injuries Directly Related to the Job
Once it is determined that a worker is, in fact, an eligible employee, it is also important to consider where the injury occurred. Workers’ compensation benefits exist only to cover damages that are related to an injury that was sustained in the course of employment. While the injury may not have occurred at the office, it still must be directly tied to job duties. This can include illnesses and injuries that happen at job sites, on travel for business, during company-sponsored events, and related situations. Injuries that happen at home or during one’s own personal time cannot be compensated under the system.
The Cause of the Injury Can Also Affect Benefits Eligibility in Iowa
Finally, the cause of the injury will play an important role in determining workers’ compensation eligibility. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system for employees, which means that employees can obtain benefits even if they were wholly or partially at fault for the accident or injury. There are, however, specific exceptions to this rule, which include injuries that are sustained:
- During a fight at work.
- While the employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- In direct violation of stated company policy.
- As a result of an employee’s intent to injure himself.
- Due to an act of a third party for personal reasons.
An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help Your Claim
Workers’ compensation benefits ensure that injured workers are able to secure the medical care they need and provide vital compensation during a time when the ability to earn income is diminished. These benefits can have a significant impact on an employee and his family and their future, so it is best to ensure that every aspect of an injury case is examined and addressed.
In some cases, the rights of a worker may be called into question. It is possible that an employer or its insurance company will dispute an employee’s status or question how an injury occurred to avoid paying a claim. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help injured workers support their claims by investigating the accident, obtaining medical records, securing expert witnesses, interpreting the law, and developing a clear and comprehensive case when necessary.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or illness at work, you may be eligible to pursue an Iowa workers’ compensation claim. Call the experienced attorneys at the Pothitakis Law Firm today to learn more about your rights as an employee and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.