Is workers’ compensation the only source of income after a work injury?

Workers’ Compensation and Other Possible IncomeIf you or someone you love suffers a work-related injury in Iowa, you are likely eligible for benefits under workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation offers payment for medical care and lost wages during the time of missed work or on an ongoing basis for those who suffer a permanent injury. While these benefits can be vital to the stability and success of your family after a work injury, they typically do not provide complete coverage. Even with generous compensation rates in Iowa, wage replacement benefits will only pay a portion of the injured worker’s typical paycheck. For many individuals and families, this creates a hardship, and it is natural to wonder if there are any additional sources of compensation to help fill that gap.

How Much Will I Be Paid From Workers’ Compensation?

First, it is important to understand what to expect from the Iowa workers’ compensation system. The state has the highest average weekly maximum reimbursement rate in the country, but the actual amount of payment depends on what each individual was earning before the injury, as well as the type of benefit he is receiving. The rates for each type of benefit are:

  • Temporary total – 80 percent of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings
  • Temporary partial – 66 2/3 percent of the difference between the employee’s average gross weekly earnings at the time of the injury and the employee’s actual earnings while temporarily working at the lesser paying job
  • Healing period – 80 percent of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings
  • Permanent partial – 80 percent of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings
  • Permanent total – 80 percent of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings
  • Death – 80 percent of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings

The state defines spendable earnings as the amount remaining after payroll taxes are deducted from gross weekly earnings.

Third-Party Legal Claims Can Provide Additional Compensation

In some cases, an injury sustained at work may actually be the result of the negligence of a third party (neither the employee or the employer). The injured employee could pursue a personal injury case against that third party to obtain additional compensation. These types of cases are often brought against:

  • Negligent drivers
  • Manufacturers of defective products
  • Manufacturers of toxic products
  • Negligent business or apartment owners (premises liability)
  • Co-workers

In these claims, the injured employee can pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. A third-party claim is not possible in every workers’ compensation case, and the unique circumstances of your injury will dictate your legal options. It is also important to note that third-party claims can affect your workers’ compensation payments. Insurance companies are often entitled to recoup at least a portion of the money awarded toward the payment of medical bills

Pursuing a Legal Case Against Your Employer

In some less common situations, it is possible to pursue legal action against your employer. While workers’ compensation exists in part to shield employers from litigation, the law does allow injured employees to pursue a claim directly against an employer when:

  • An injury was the result of the employer’s negligence.
  • An injury was the result of the employer’s intentional poor conduct.
  • The employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.

An experienced attorney can help injured workers determine their rights in each unique situation to decide if a claim against your employer is the best option.

Social Security Disability and the Iowa Worker

Additionally, workers who experience a total disability that prevents them from working at all may be eligible for Social Security disability. This federal program pays benefits to workers injured and unable to work before retirement age. To qualify for this compensation, an employee must have worked and paid Social Security tax for a certain number of years.

There are also rules about the amount of income a worker can receive from both workers’ compensation and Social Security disability. An employee can only obtain up to 80 percent of his pre-injury wage, and Social Security disability payment would be reduced to that number.

If you have been injured at work, talk to the experienced attorneys at Pothitakis Law Firm to learn more about your rights and compensation available. Take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page, or call our office nearest you to find out how we may be able to help.