Construction workers in Iowa face multiple safety hazards every day. You might have witnessed co-workers suffering serious or even fatal injuries. Some of them may be unable to return to work for extended periods -- if at all. You might find comfort in knowing that the Iowa workers' compensation system will have your back if you should suffer severe injuries.
But, how reliable is the system? The workers' compensation program entitles you to benefits that will help you take care of your financial obligations while you are incapacitated. The most basic benefits will cover your medical expenses and lost income.
What will happen if your injury causes disability?
Workers' compensation is insurance that your employer carries, and all workers can claim benefits for job-related injuries. Instead of filing a lawsuit against the company, injured workers file benefits claims. When your injury prevents you from returning to work, the type and severity of your injury will determine for which of the following you qualify:
- Permanent disability: If your injury caused a disability that prevents you from continuing your current occupation, with no prospect of recovering — such as an amputation — you may qualify for these benefits. However, the compensation will depend on your ability to earn an income in another occupation, as well as your age and wage level at the time of the injury. The insurer will look at whether the disability is partial or total when they award benefits.
- Temporary disability: You may spend some time in a hospital or at home, recovering from your injury. During that time, you will receive a percentage of your average weekly wage, and a doctor must verify your inability to return to work.
- Rehabilitation: Some insurers offer vocational rehabilitation. This will teach you additional skills that will enable you to earn a living in a different occupation if your disability prevents you from doing your current job.
Who will provide medical care?
Your employer might have a list of approved physicians to treat injured workers. Some companies allow employees to switch to their own doctors after 30 days. However, you will have to make this request in writing. Benefits may cover all your medical bills, including doctors' and hospital fees, prescriptions, some types of therapy, and even your travel expenses to and from consultations.
What do you need to do?
Learning as much as possible about workers' compensation procedures before you suffer injuries might help to ensure you receive the maximum level of compensation if an incident occurs. After the necessary immediate medical care, you must report your injury to your employer, who must give you the required claim forms. You should fill those out to start the wheels rolling on the benefits claim.
Some Iowa construction accident victims choose to leave the complicated claims process to an experienced workers' compensation attorney who fights for the rights of injured workers every day. If you let legal counsel navigate your claim, you can focus on recovering and getting back to work.