Does fault matter in a workers' compensation case in Iowa?

Many workers and their spouses and dependent children wouldn't know it, but fault has nothing to do with receiving death benefits under Iowa law.

Take for example the semi-truck-pickup truck collision that took place on January 11, 2010 between Daniel Carl and Jay Harmelink who died in the collision. The report implies that Harmelink was at fault for crossing the center line of Highway 175 two miles east of Odebolt. I draw no conclusions that he was and I wish his family well in their time of grief. But today it’s important we learn about the law and a family surviving. We separate that which is real and relevant so that others may know how to deal with their own situation. Delay is never a good thing and we hope those with similar claims don't make assumptions that cost them dearly.

But assuming for the sake of argument that he was at fault and that he was working at the time of the crash or running a work errand we need to know whether that would preclude his wife and dependent children from receiving workers' compensation benefits under Iowa law. And the answer to that question is an emphatic NO. Fault has nothing to do with qualifying or not qualifying for benefits in a workers’ compensation action. Many people confuse the fault at issue in a normal car accident case between two drivers with what must be the law under Iowa Workers' Compensation. The other lawsuit over the car accident is what we call a third-party case; and in this instance there could be an action between the two drivers separate from the workers' compensation case. These are two separate and distinct lawsuits and one doesn’t preclude the other. Also know that collecting in one doesn't guarantee collecting in the other. Clear?

But even assuming Harmelink is at fault it’s meaningless to the widow in a workers compensation action. That's not something she needs to be worried about.

There are other issues underlying a worker’s injuries from a car accident and whether or not they get compensation under Iowa law, but those issues will have to be taken up on another day. Just know that if you’re driving a company vehicle or for that matter your own vehicle (Does your employer ask you to run errands in your own car or truck?) you are probably covered under Iowa’s workers’ compensation laws. See our section on workers' compensation injuries for a discussion about dependent coverage or widows' coverage.

Iowa Workers' Compensation Benefits: Iowa lawyer points out that ...

Apr 7, 2009 ... Death benefits are payable to the dependents of the employee. ... Iowa lawyer points out that negligence doesn't apply to work comp claims. ... -

For good advice see a lawyer and if you have questions about this blog write or call me directly. Steve Lombardi, [email protected] and 515-222-1110.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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