If you have been injured in an Iowa work accident, workers' compensation impairment rating guide settlement prices are something to think about. For example, the severity of your injury and the body parts involved can affect the amount of workers' compensation you get.
Through workers' compensation benefits, you may be entitled to paid medical expenses and other benefits such as travel reimbursement and vocational rehabilitation. An experienced workers' compensation attorney may guide you through the claims process and help you understand what compensation for a work-related injury you can expect to receive.
What Happens When a Worker Loses a Body Part in a Work Accident?
Losing a body part constitutes an emergency. Workers should not get pushback about how they sought treatment immediately after losing a body part in a work-related accident. In non-emergency situations, however, the employer or its insurer gets to choose the doctor who treats workers.
Once a worker’s situation is no longer considered an emergency, the insurer may choose the workers' compensation doctor. Workers who want to select their own doctor can file a petition with the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner for alternate medical care.
Workers should report their injuries to employers within 90 days. Employers then notify their insurance companies. Insurers then decide whether to accept or deny a claim. If workers do not report injuries within the 90-day timeframe, their workers' comp claims could be denied.
When processing a workers' compensation claim for a lost body part, your employer's insurer may have you undergo an independent medical exam (IME). Performed by a third-party medical professional, the exam assesses the severity of your injury and generally contributes to your workers' compensation impairment rating.
You should also expect to undergo a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) to see if you can perform any work tasks. Other medical tests may be performed as well. The exams help paint a clearer picture of the scope of your injury, the medical treatment that will likely be necessary, and the extent of any permanent disability. The best workers' compensation lawyers in Iowa can help you to determine the benefits you can obtain.
What Benefits Can an Injured Worker Receive?
Determining who is covered under workers' comp and what benefits may be available can be challenging. Not everyone who works is an employee who qualifies for workers' compensation benefits. While people who work in full-time, part-time, and temporary positions may be covered by workers' compensation insurance, those who are classified as independent contractors are not eligible for benefits. In some cases, non-traditional employees may be entitled to workers' comp benefits. For example, workers are often misclassified as "independent contractors" when they work from home. However, if they meet certain requirements, they qualify for workers' comp.
Your workers' compensation attorney can help you understand what benefits are available through workers' compensation and how the workers' compensation impairment rating guide will apply to your case. Your ongoing benefits should cover expenses for doctors' visits, prescriptions, hospital bills, prosthetic devices, mileage incurred when traveling to and from medical appointments, and other reasonable and necessary treatment.
Additionally, the amount of your wage loss benefits depends on whether or if you fall under:
- Temporary total disability (TTD)
- Healing period (HP)
- Permanent total disability (PTD)
- Death benefits
Minimum and maximum benefit amounts are available in these categories. You could receive an amount in between, too. The Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner sets the weekly maximum each year. As of July 2022, the minimum wage loss benefit is $364, while the maximum is $2,081.
Temporary total disability benefits become available once you are out of work for at least three days. If you cannot work for more than 14 days, you are paid for the first three days. These benefits equal approximately 70% of your average net earnings after payroll deductions (called your total spendable wages).
Healing period benefits do not require a waiting period. They occur when you are expected to have permanent damage. You can receive healing period benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement, you return to work, or you are deemed capable of returning to work.
Temporary partial disability benefits come with a three-day waiting period. They can cover up to two-thirds of the difference between your pre-accident income and the wages you're earning after your injury.
Permanent disability benefits are for life at the same pay level as temporary total disability benefits. You get permanent total disability if you cannot work in any capacity due to your work injury. If you can work in some capacity, you might get permanent partial disability benefits at 70% of your net earnings.
Permanent or Total Impairment, and Partial or Total Disability
The additional benefits you could receive hinge on determinations in two areas: permanent or total impairment, and partial or total disability. In workers' comp, disability refers to limits on someone's ability to execute tasks. Impairment, meanwhile, refers to the problem causing the physical condition.
Suppose the body part a trucker lost was his or her right arm. The impairment would be the loss of the right arm/no right arm, while the disability would be the inability to drive. Now, someone else in another type of job might not be considered disabled if his or her arm was not required to do the job.
An Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) occurs once the employee is completed most of their medical care and is stable. The worker must have reached maximum medical improvement. At this point, workers are unlikely to improve more, at least for the next year.
The workers' compensation impairment rating assigns a percentage from 0% to 100% based on the level of impairment. The IRE helps everyone be on the same page as far as knowing how long someone might receive benefits, the amount of compensation, and if or when the employee could return to work.
The IRE might show that a worker can return to work but in a different, lower-paying job. The worker would be considered partially disabled in this case. The employee could use the rating to get workers' compensation benefits to make up for the income loss. In Iowa, the workers' compensation commissioner relies on the AMA Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment 5th edition.
A 0% rating means the doctor thinks you have no impairment and should be able to perform basic tasks with no problems whatsoever. At 50%, you become significantly impaired and probably have issues with basic daily tasks. Factors Affecting a Workers' Compensation Settlement
Workers' compensation impairment rating settlement body part prices vary depending on the body part. Another critical factor is how straightforward the insurance company is. Unfortunately, many insurers do not play fair and try to minimize the amount of money you can get. Overall, important factors affecting the settlement include:
- Type of injury and the degree to which it prevents you from doing the work you originally did
- Proper calculation of the amount you are getting or should be getting (not all insurers or lawyers calculate this amount correctly)
- The extent of medical treatment you are getting now and will need in the future
- Your case status (such as whether the insurance company is challenging your claim)
The workers’ compensation impairment rating settlement body part prices are determined by multiplying the percentage of your workers' compensation impairment rating by how long you can receive benefits. The following schedule outlines the duration of payments for 100% loss or loss of use.
- 250 weeks, loss of an arm
- 220 weeks, loss of a leg
- 150 weeks, loss of a foot
- 190 weeks, loss of a hand
If you lose a toe, finger, or thumb, you could receive benefits for 15 to 60 weeks, depending on the body part that was lost. For example, loss of a thumb equals 60 weeks, while benefits are paid for 35 weeks for the loss of a first finger. The loss of a second finger is 30 weeks, while you would get 25 and 20 weeks, respectively, for the loss of a third and fourth finger. For the loss of a big toe, you receive 40 weeks' worth of payment. The loss of any other toe is paid for 15 weeks.
To Get the Most Out of Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Following these steps can help you get the maximum workers' compensation impairment rating settlement body part prices you are entitled to receive.
1. Report the injury right away. In Iowa, you have up to 90 days to report the injury. This period begins when you knew, or should have known, you had an injury that occurred in the course of employment.
2. Seek medical treatment right away. Proper medical care helps make sure your injury gets treated correctly from the beginning and promotes quicker, fuller recovery. It also establishes medical evidence records for your workers' comp claims. During treatment, you get documentation of your work-related accident, injuries, and physical limitations. If you wait to get treatment, your employer's insurance company could argue that you got injured elsewhere.
3. Change doctors if you feel you should. Workers' compensation insurance companies typically choose doctors, which is a conflict of interest in itself. Doctors that want ongoing work may be more likely to make determinations that favor the insurer. Switch doctors if you feel your treatment is subpar.
4. Learn more about the benefits available. As an injured worker in Iowa, you may be entitled to a wide range of benefits. Your workers' compensation lawyer can help you understand more about the benefits that may be available to you.
5. Prep for your independent medical examinations. IMEs often occurs when insurance companies would rather reduce or stop your workers' comp benefits. Your work injury lawyer can help you get prepared for your IME by anticipating the questions the medical professionals are likely to ask and reviewing your medical records. You should be able to explain your injuries and describe how they affect your life and your job. The doctor may ask you to recount how the accident occurred and may look for inconsistencies between what you originally said and what you report during the IME. Refresh your memory with treatments you have received and learn more about the ones you will need down the road.
Remain honest and not exaggerate your symptoms or injuries. If you have previous injuries not related to the work injury, be straightforward and transparent about them. Take notes during the IME (or have a companion do so). Make note of what the doctor asked, any tests that were performed, and the results of those tests, if available.
6. Keep detailed records. Maintain records of medical visits, employer letters, work restriction slips, insurance company letters, accident reports, and anything else that may have bearing on your work injury claim.
How Can an Attorney Help With Workers' Compensation Impairment Rating Guide Settlements?
Hiring an Iowa workers' compensation lawyer is one of the best moves you can make after losing a body part in a work-related accident. A top work comp attorney can explain the workers' compensation impairment rating guide to you, help you navigate the claims process, and help ensure your rights are protected.