In short, yes. Work injuries prevent employees from doing their jobs and earning their wages. They can also cause employees to accrue costly medical bills. To prevent employees from suffering undue hardship when they are injured at work, employers in Iowa are required to either purchase workers’ compensation insurance or self-insure. Then, when an employee suffers an on-the-job injury, either the insurance company or the employer can help the employee address the costs of the injury. Injuries are very common among employees across the U.S., with millions of work injuries reported each year.
How Are Shoulder Claims Treated in Iowa?
In 2017, the law changed as it relates to those who suffer a shoulder injury at work in Iowa. Prior to July 1, 2017, shoulder injuries would entitle an injured employee to medical benefits, benefits for each week they are off of work, and finally, permanency benefits. Prior to 2017 those permanency benefits would be based on what is called industrial disability. This is an evaluation of how the injury impacts an employee’s ability to work in the future. It is an evaluation that tries to quantify the lifetime effects of the work injury and any permanency associated with that permanent shoulder injury. On July 1, 2017 and for any shoulder injury after that date, the benefits for the permanency for that permanent shoulder injury have changed. The law change now requires an employer to provide benefits for a permanent shoulder injury to be based upon the impairment rating pursuant to the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition to the upper extremity times four hundred weeks. This is a very objective calculation that tends to be significantly less than the industrial disability analysis used above. There are arguments that can be made to enhance the value of a shoulder injury even with these new limitations. A shoulder injury combined with injuries to other parts of the body can also place it back in to the analysis of industrial disability. For this reason, it is very important to talk to an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney if you have a shoulder injury related to work.
Common Types of Work-Related Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries are fairly common among workers’ compensation claims. These injuries can be the result of a one-time accident, but they also often develop over time due to repetitive use or stress. The shoulder is made up of multiple joints, tendons, and muscles. These structures allow a greater range of motion than most other areas of the body. Unfortunately, this complexity also leaves the shoulder more vulnerable to injury. Some of the most common shoulder injuries include:
Many shoulder ailments will be first addressed by minimally invasive treatments, including medication, rest, physical therapy, and injections. When these options do not provide relief from pain or promote healing, surgery is often necessary.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can Provide the Care You Need
When you suffer an injury or illness related to your work, the Iowa workers’ compensation system can provide benefits to ensure you receive the proper medical care and to help you remain financially secure. Workers’ compensation offers benefits to those who have suffered a work-related injury, which the state defines as “any health condition caused by work activities other than the normal building up and tearing down of body tissues.” A shoulder injury, if caused by job-related circumstances, would fall under this category. Additionally, the system covers all “reasonable and necessary” medical care related to such an injury, which can include:
Transportation to and from appointments
Care Is Provided Under the Guidelines of the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission
To obtain this care, injured workers will have to be sure to follow the guidelines set forth by the workers’ compensation commission. You must:
See an approved doctor. In Iowa, the employer or its insurance company has the right to choose your doctor. In some cases, your preferred doctor may be among the approved providers. If he or she is not, however, you must seek care from an appropriate caregiver approved by your employer. If you do not, the employer will not be required to pay for your care.
Prove your injury was work-related. Workers’ compensation provides benefits only for injuries that are suffered on the job or as a direct result of job duties. Therefore, it is necessary to show that your injury was sustained specifically because of work conditions. This is often the most complicated aspect of these cases, but medical records, expert testimony, work incident reports, and other witnesses can all offer information to back up your claim. Additionally, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you investigate and prepare a thorough claim to ensure you obtain the care and compensation you deserve.
Iowa Workers’ Compensation Can Also Provide Wage Replacement Benefits
In addition to paying for your surgery and related medical care, the Iowa workers’ compensation system offers injured workers wage replacement benefits. Typically, when an injured worker has to undergo shoulder surgery, he or she is forced to miss work while healing and recovering. During that time, temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits can be available. In some cases, even surgery cannot fully correct the damage done to the shoulder. For those injured workers, permanent disability benefits may be available. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help employees understand their options and pursue a claim to obtain the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you love has suffered a work-related injury and must undergo surgery, call the dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys at the Pothitakis Law Firm. Our knowledgeable legal team can help you learn more about your rights and work with you to ensure you receive the care and compensation you need.