Neck injuries are some of the most common Workers' Compensation injuries. They can be painful and limit the range of motion in work activities. Injury to the neck can also be responsible for nerve pain to other parts of the body. Neck injuries may be caused by one single event or cumulative stress from your job over an extended period of time. This injury may also develop from a pre-existing condition that is made worse by your work activities.
If you injure your neck while working, you are entitled to benefits under Iowa law. Neck injuries are significant in the Iowa Work Comp. system because they can affect a person's ability to work. The impact an injury has on your ability to work is the primary driver of the amount of money the system will pay for a work-related injury.
If you sustain a compensable injury to your neck, you are entitled to benefits. Those benefits include medical benefits (the employer and insurance carrier pays your medical expenses for the injury), healing period benefits and permanency benefits. Healing period benefits are benefits paid to you on a weekly basis for each week you are off of work because of your injury. Those benefits continue until you return to work, are released to similar employment, or placed at maximum medical improvement. Permanency benefits are paid at the end of the healing period benefits.
Body as a Whole Injury
Because the injury is to your neck it is considered an injury to your body as a whole. Body as whole injuries are compensated based on how the injury affects your ability to earn income. This is called “industrial disability benefits.” The way an injury affects your ability to earn a living is determined based on your age, education, past work history, restrictions, impairment and a number of other factors. These benefits are significantly higher than the benefits for scheduled member injury to your arm, hand, leg or foot. Neck injuries can result in significant effects on a person's ability to work certain jobs and can have a drastic effect on one's ability to work and earn a living. Ultimately, there is a determination of how the injury affects your ability to work in percentage terms. For example, if you lose 50 percent of your ability to work, you would be entitled to 50 percent of 500 weeks (amount set by law) or 250 weeks of Workers' Compensation benefits for the injury.
It is important that you tell your employer as soon as possible when you injure your neck at work. You may need medical treatment, and you do not want your injury to worsen. It is best to report your injury to your employer in writing. You are required to report the injury within 90 days of the date of the injury. If you miss the deadline, your benefits may be denied. Contact an experienced Workers' Compensation lawyer to help you evaluate your case and ensure that you are getting the benefits entitled to you under Iowa law.