What Types of Injuries and Illnesses are Covered By Workers' Compensation?According to the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission, an injury is defined as “any health impairment other than the normal building up and tearing down of body tissues.” Commonly, people think workers’ compensation covers those who are injured in an accident at work. While this is true, the system addresses many types of injuries that are the result of many situations, including:
- A traumatic physical injury caused by a single event. Car accidents, machining issues, falls, object strikes, and more are classic examples of accidents at work. These one-time events can leave employees with injuries that cause pain, require medical treatment, and prevent the employee from performing their job duties for some amount of time.
- A cumulative injury caused by repetitive stress or exposure that develops over time. Repetitive use injuries are becoming increasingly common among the workforce, especially with the growing use of computers and machinery. Even seemingly light work such as typing or small tool use can cause these types of injuries when performed day after day. Tendonitis, carpal tunnel, and bursitis are the most common repetitive use injuries.
- A work-related disease such as heart or lung disease. Some occupations put employees at risk for diseases that can affect major body organs, even while the employee may appear healthy. Miners, firefighters, police officers, and many more can breathe in toxins or be exposed to chemicals harmful to their health while at work. Hearing loss is also covered when it is the result of noise and a lack of appropriate training and protection.
- A mental or emotional injury that is work-related. While most jobs are accompanied by some amount of stress, there are times when an employee experiences an emotional injury that impacts them for months or even years. In these cases, it can be possible to pursue a workers’ compensation claim.
- Aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Generally, workers’ compensation does not cover any pre-existing conditions. However, if a condition is worsened by the work environment, it can be possible to obtain benefits.
When Work Injuries Occur Outside the WorkplaceJobs can encompass many types of tasks and duties, and they can take an employee from a job site to an office to virtually anywhere. Workers’ compensation will cover most job-related injuries, even ones that do not occur at the work site. This means that what injuries qualify for workers' compensation include those sustained nearly anywhere in the course of their duties—when traveling for work, on a job site, or even possibly at a work social function. As long as the employee was taking action to perform a job-related task, it can be covered.
Exceptions to the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Injury RulesThere are a few circumstances regarding what injuries are covered by workers' compensation in which the employer is not obligated to pay an injured employee benefits, even if the injury occurs at work or is work-related. These include injuries sustained:
- Outside of work.
- While the employee was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- When the employee was acting in direct conflict with stated company policy.
- In a fight.
- While the employee was committing a crime.
If you or someone you love has suffered a work-related injury, you may wonder what injuries are covered by workers' compensation, and if you may be eligible for benefits. Even if the injury did not occur at the office, or if you aren’t sure if you have a case, reach out to the experienced lawyers at the Pothitakis Law Firm. Fill out our “contact us” form on this page, and you’ll receive a prompt response from a member of our legal team who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.