No one goes to work expecting to be injured. In fact, going to work has become so routine that many individuals simply find themselves going through the motions of their job as if they are on autopilot. The scary reality, though, is that many workers are put at risk of an on-the-job injury on a daily basis. This is especially true for those who work in meatpacking and processing, factories, and warehouses. Even when safety precautions are taken, a workplace accident can take you by surprise, leaving you with serious injuries.
Recovering from these injuries can be difficult, too. You’ll probably deal with extensive physical pain and limitation, but your medical expenses can quickly overwhelm your financial resources, all at a time when you are unable to work to earn you wage. When this happens, it’s time to turn to the workers’ compensation system for help. While the benefits provided by this system can give you a financial lifeline, in far too many cases initial claims are denied. When this happens, you need to know how to navigate the workers’ compensation appeals process and do so skillfully.
So, if your Iowa workers’ compensation claim is denied, there’s are the next steps in the appellate process:
- Filing a petition with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission: Shortly after your claim denial, you’ll need to file a petition with the Commission. After your claim is assigned to a deputy commissioner, then you and the insurance company will figure out if you can negotiate a resolution. If not or if the negotiations are unsuccessful, then you’ll have a hearing in front of the deputy commissioner. Here, you’ll be able to submit additional evidence to support your claim, which might include medical documentation and witness testimony. After reviewing the evidence, the deputy workers’ compensation commission will issue a written decision.
- Appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner: If you get an unfavorable ruling from the deputy commissioner, then you can appeal directly to the Commissioner. The Commissioner won’t consider additional evidence but will look at the evidence presented to the deputy commissioner to determine if the appropriate decision was reached.
- Appeal to the state court system: If you still don’t succeed after review by the commissioner, then you’ll be able to appeal your case to the state courts. This means being heard by the court of appeals and then, if it accepts your case for review, the State’s supreme court. Again, you’re not going to be able to present more evidence at this point, but rather will have your case reviewed based on the evidence presented and the objections that are made. If there are any significant evidentiary issues or procedural defects that arise, then the state appellate courts may find in your favor or send the case back for further proceedings.
Aggressively pursing the appeals process is paramount to successfully pursuing your workers’ compensation claim. Yet, since so many steps of the appellate process are mere reviews of the record during previous hearings, you need to be as prepared as possible from the get-go. You need the documentation and testimony necessary to show that your injury was in fact cause by a work-related incident, or that your condition was significantly exacerbated by your work. You’ll also need medical evidence to show how your injury prevents you from working and illustrating just how serious and how long lasting your condition is.
This might all sound easy enough, but the truth of the matter is that workers’ compensation cases, although not taking place in the tradition court system initially, are complicated legal matters. Therefore, if you feel like you could benefit form the assistance of a legal advocate in pursuing the compensation to which you are entitled, then it might be time for you to discuss your case with an attorney of your choosing.