Before we get to today's topic in Iowa workers' compensation law let's talk a little bit about a recent case that has a question being raised about fault or if being negligent prohibits the injured worker from recovering. The short answer is no, fault doesn't preclude recovery under the workers' compensation act. Being drunk at work can preclude recovery (or exclude it) but being negligent won't stop you from being eligible for benefits. A crane driver went off the road, into a ditch and rolled the crane near Garwin, Iowa. He was taken first to Marshalltown's hospital and then to the U of I in Iowa City because of the injuries he suffered. If you're interested in the story just follow this link. His injuries, the crane operators, will be covered under Iowa's workers' compensation law, even if his mistakes in driving the crane resulted in it going off the hard surface of the road. Now I'm not saying he is at fault, I have no way of knowing what happened, for all I know the steering went out or a deer ran in front of the crane, but assuming arguendo that the worker's mistakes caused the mishap, he's still going to get his medical and weekly benefits.
Okay, that's enough of that for today; let's talk about work restrictions or the lack of restrictions. Remember to always get the doctor's release in writing and have the company doc include an explanation of what activity level is restricted. Think in terms of pull, push, how many hours without a break, sitting, standing and off course in back cases lifting restrictions.
How long can you work? How many hours straight and in one day?
How much can you life?
How much weight should you be pushing, assuming that's a part of your job?
Get the case mis-manager out of the exam room, talk with the doctor face-to-face and ask relevant questions about your job. Tell the doctor what your job is and what it involves. Describe the kind of things you pull, push and lift, how often and how heavy they are. If you're a trucker and haul over-the-road tell the doc if you have to unload freight, synch down tarps, move donnage or if all you do is drive 8 or more hours a day. If you work a machine, like a press, then describe how many times you have to change parts, how heavy they are, how high they are stacked and how much movement that is to your shoulders and back. Shoulder injuries are pretty common for machine operators so shoulder movements that produce stresses and strains will be important for the doctor to know.
Doctors, write it down and stop asking the patient's lawyer to pay you when they have to tell you how to do your job. I'm sick and tired of paying for medical opinions that should have been given automatically. You're already getting paid so stop asking me to pay for what should already have been written and handed to the patient. AMEN!
Enough said, call me if you have questions. 515-222-1110, and I'm including the doctors in that invitation.