Time Limits For Filing An Iowa Workers Compensation Claim

The workers' compensation claim time limit applicable to your case depends on the stage of your claim. Initially, you must report the work-related injury to your employer within 90 days after the injury, accident, or after you discovered the injury. It's not always clear when some work injuries begin. A workers' compensation attorney can help you understand the time to file your workers' compensation claim. 

Work injuries in Iowa can take many forms. In some cases, an accident clearly and immediately results in an injury. At other times, the injury appears more gradually and can be more difficult to identify. Both of these types of injuries can be addressed with workers’ compensation benefits if the claim is filed on time. State rules set deadlines that must be met to obtain these benefits. Typically, a claim will be denied if the worker misses these deadlines. While there are some exceptions, it is important to understand that these timelines to ensure you can obtain the medical care and wage replacement you need after a work-related injury.

Workers' Compensation Claim Time Limits

Employees in Iowa have 90 days to report a work-related injury to their employer. The law does not mandate the manner in which you report the injury, but it is best to do so in writing. Employees can send an email or offer a written note describing the injury and how it occurred. Many employers will have an injured worker fill out an injury or accident form, but they are not required to do so. Regardless of how an employee chooses to report the injury, it is a good idea to keep a copy of the dated notice in case the time of notification becomes an issue later. As noted previously, there are some cases in which the date of the injury is clear. If a piece of equipment falls and breaks an employee’s leg, the 90-day clock would begin on that day when the injury occurred. The start of other injuries, however, can be less clear. An employee who experiences the gradual onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, may not be able to point to a specific moment when the injury occurred. In those cases, state rules give the employee 90 days to report the injury from the time he knew about the injury (or reasonably should have known).

Your Employer’s Time Frame to Report the Injury to the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission

Once an injured worker reports his injury, the employer has four days to file a first report of injury with the state workers’ compensation commission. Most Iowa employers carry workers’ compensation insurance (rather than self-insure), so they will also notify their insurance carrier. In some cases, an employer or its insurance company may balk at the claim. The employer must respond to an employee’s work injury in a timely manner. If they make it difficult to file a claim, it is best to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help protect your rights and ensure that your claim receives proper consideration.

Time From for Bringing a Workers' Compensation Claim

There are additional workers' compensation claim time limits as well. Injured workers only have so much time to pursue a claim and receive benefits from the Iowa workers’ compensation system. Those limits are:
  • Two years. Benefits can be denied if a worker does not either receive benefits or a file an application for arbitration within two years of the date of the injury.
  • Three years. If a worker has received compensation from the system, he or she has three years from the date of the last payment to file for additional benefits or file another action.
While this may seem like a long period of time, workers’ compensation claims can be complex, and it can take time to navigate the system. This is especially true in cases where there are questions about the legitimacy of the claim or objections from the employer. It is best to start as soon as possible to ensure that a claim has the best possible chance of success. A workers' compensation attorney can help you understand what deadlines applies to your case and help you meet those deadlines.

Exceptions to the Iowa Limit on the Time to File a Workers' Compensation Claim

At times, it is possible to file outside the workers' compensation claim time limit. The discovery rule allows injured workers a way around these statutes in some instances. It acknowledges that there are circumstances in which an employee may not be aware of the nature or seriousness of the injury. They may not even be aware that it is a compensable injury. These cases can be complex, but an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney can help. Even if you may have missed the workers' compensation claim time limit, discuss your injuries with a lawyer who can make sure you understand your rights and options under the Iowa workers’ compensation system. At the Pothitakis Law Firm, our dedicated legal team is committed to making sure Iowa workers can obtain the medical care and full compensation they deserve after an injury. Call us today to find out more about how we may be able to help.

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