The Pothitakis Law Firm was approached by a worker who sustained an injury to his low back while performing repetitive type work for his employer. The difficulty in the case was the fact that the Employer took the position that the Employee did not report the injury within 90 days of the date of injury. Under Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, an employee is required to report the injury within 90 days of when he or she knew or should have known that the injury was work-related. The 90-day notice is subject to what is called the “discovery rule.” The discovery rule allows an employee additional time when they do not discovery, until a later date, that their condition is work-related.
What complicates these claims even more is the fact that this was not a traumatic injury, it was more of a cumulative type injury that developed over time. In those situations, the date of the injury can sometimes be difficult to ascertain. In this case, the Pothitakis Law Firm presented evidence that the Employee did not know his injury was work-related until months after the date he last performed the repetitive work for the employer. The testimony of the employee was consistent and the judge found the employee to be credible. Based upon the Employee’s testimony the Judge found that the injury date was not until the Employee was told by his doctor that his condition was work related.
The Employer and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier denied the claim from the start and paid no benefits. The Judge’s Decision resulted in a significant award for the Employee with respect to having all of his medical expenses paid, all of his time off work paid, and a significant permanent partial disability benefit.
Under Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, an Employee who sustained a permanent injury is entitled to benefits based upon that permanency. In this case, the Pothitakis Law Firm presented evidence of the impairment sustained by the Employee as a result of his back injury as well as a evidence from a second opinion physician detailing the nature and extent of the permanent condition.
This case illustrates that it is very important to report an injury to your employer whenever you think you have a condition that may be connected to your work. Even if you miss the 90-day deadline to provide notice to your employer, it’s important to speak with an attorney about the same as there may be ways to extend that time deadline.