Most people don’t know a heck of a lot about workers’ comp benefits, but they do know that in order to get them, you have to be able to show you were hurt on the job.  In fact, that’s easy to show in Iowa, because here, “‘injury’ is defined very broadly to include any health impairment other than the normal building up and tearing down of body tissues.”  It includes things like diseases and hearing loss as well.  Even if you’ve got a preexisting injury or illness and your job makes it worse, you’ve probably got a qualifying injury.  In fact, your injury doesn’t even have to happen all at once.  It can be, say, a cumulative injury—one that happened gradually, and maybe took a while to notice.

But what if it just isn’t clear what caused your injury?  What if, because you don’t know, you’ve explained it to people in different ways, and your employer thinks those different explanations mean you’re making it up?  That’s more or less what happened to Joe Shmoe (not his real name), in a case that recently went to arbitration.

Attorney Lombardi, "Watch the video in the queue. In it I discuss reporting a work injury. I suspect we need to create a second video directly discussing this man's problem with reporting injuries to the various sources that can include co-workers, supervisors, the company nurse, the boss, the company owner, the case manager, the emergency room doctor, the ambulance crew, the treating physician and lastly a specialist. The point would be to stay consistent. You have to take the time to report the injury consistently. Laziness will get you in trouble with a workers' compensation claim."

Mr. Shmoe worked at a tire factory, and at some point he became injured, somehow or other wrenching his back.  It’s not clear how, although company records corroborate his explanation of when he became injured.  The injury may have occurred when he was cutting rubber with a knife that may not have been sharp enough.  The trouble is that at some point, Mr. Shmoe told a nurse that his back felt like a “laser [was] poking it”.  And a doctor recorded that Mr. Shmoe had told him that the cause of the pain was his coworkers pointing lights and lasers at him.  At a later date, Mr. Shmoe reported to a doctor that his back pain had developed gradually, and that he though it had to do with someone attacking his back with a laser.  Still another doctor’s report stated that Mr. Shmoe had been injured while lifting rubber.

Was the injury caused by rubber or lasers?  Both? Or none?  We just don’t know.  This confusion is compounded by the fact that Mr. Ahmed was unskilled in speaking English—bringing in the possibility that his medical providers had simply been unable to understand his words.  There was certainly an injury, but where had it come from?

It turns out that it doesn’t matter.  The independent medical evaluator in the case concluded that, although he didn’t know where the injury came from, there was no question that it hadn’t come from work.  Somehow or other, Mr. Shmoe had sustained an on-the-job injury, and the exact cause being unknown was not a barrier to recovery.

Maybe you’ve gone through something similar.  Maybe you’ve got a work injury, and you don’t know how it occurred.  That’s no reason not to apply for workers’ comp.  I like to say to my clients, "Help me to help you."  If we can help you, call the Lombardi Law Firm to speak with attorneys Steve Lombardi and Katrina Schaefer. We can be reached at 515-222-1110 or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected] We look forward to your call.

Source, File number 5044399 

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