Iowa's New Worker's Compensation Law

The Iowa legislature proposed a new bill to amend the state's existing worker's compensation law.  After many heated debates and some changes, the new bill was passed by the House and the Senate and is now effective in the state of Iowa.  This will significantly change the way worker's compensation works in Iowa and how employees are able to obtain benefits when they are hurt on the job.  There are many differences, including the change that turns a shoulder injury from an injury to the body as a whole to one that is seen as a scheduled member, which severely reduces the number of weeks that the worker will be able to obtain benefits for permanent impairment.  Apparently in an effort to offset this harmful change, the legislature put in place a new "training and education program" for workers with an injury to the shoulder to supposedly provide them with an education for a new career that is not physically demanding on the injured shoulder.  Whether and how well this will actually work is unknown.  One unknown is that it is unclear how the injured worker will survive financially.  The new law provides that the employer insurance carrier shall provide financial support for the payment of tuition, fees, and supplies for the program, but there is no provision for the injured worker to live on for general daily living needs (food, rent, etc.).  The law is ambiguous and hastily drafted, and will likely lead to years of confusion and litigation.

 

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