Navigating the Worker's Compensation Claim Process
Our job is to help our clients navigate the often complex process involved in worker's compensation claims. Common questions often come up regardless of the type of injury sustained. Here are the most common:
1. How long will the process take?
There is no way to predict how long this type of case will take to conclude as the medical treatment will control when we can try to settle the case. If your medical treatment is concluded, we can move through the process quicker and either proceed with setting a hearing and going to hearing, or trying to settle the case before the hearing. If your medical treatment is continuing, your claim will most likely continue until it is clear when the treatment will be finished.
2. Will my case go to trial?
In worker's compensation claims, there is no "trial" in court, but rather a "hearing" before a hearing officer at the Iowa Workforce Development agency. There is no jury; only the agency judge will hear and decide the case. Most worker's compensation claims settle before hearing, but proceeding to the hearing does happen and depends on many circumstances, including the wishes of the client.
3. When will I get paid?
You may receive weekly benefits while your worker's compensation claim is pending if you are off work due to doctor's orders or if the insurance company is paying for what is called "permanent impairment" based on the permanency of your injury. Payment from a settlement will come due upon settlement, but if the case proceeds to hearing, it can be many months before the judge issues the decision and then payment will depend on what that decision orders the insurance company to pay, if anything at all.
4. Can I quit my job while my worker's compensation claim is pending?
Yes, depending on the circumstances, and you should speak with an attorney before doing so.
5. What if my employer is making me do work outside my restrictions?
This requires a discussion with your approved physician, the employer, and the insurance adjuster, and often requires an attorney to facilitate the conversation and ensure that the employee is not required to do work that he or she is unable to do. This happens often and the employee is forced to either do work he or she is incapable of doing, or at least is put in severe pain in order to do the work, or to refuse to do the work - none of which are good options and you should speak with attorney as soon as possible.
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