One of the toughest parts of being on workers' compensation in Iowa is to plan how you will pay your bills while off work with a work-related injury. Today Iowa workers' compensation lawyer, Steve Lombardi, helps you to understand how to plan. He appreciates that you need to understand how this Iowa work comp system works so you can plan your next meal. So today he discusses the healing period.
Client: Will my family receive a check each and every week?
Attorney Lombardi: Yes you should receive a weekly compensation check each and every week during the healing period. The healing period is what it sounds like. It’s the time after the injury when you are healing from the injury you suffered in a work related accident. It is a period of time when a check (a weekly indemnity check) is paid to you while you are off of work. You need a doctor’s excuse to be off of work and this excuse is always best obtained in writing. The doctor’s excuse to be off of work must also relate your injury to the work you do. How it is related is different for most every case.
How long does the healing period last?
Healing period lasts as long as the doctor says it lasts and then it ends. The beginning of healing period begins after the injury and the doctor takes you off of work. It ends when one of three events occur. Here are the three events:
- You are released to return to work.
- You return to work.
- The doctor reports you have reached maximum medical improvement (even though you may not be able to return to your former job.).
Whichever event occurs first will end your healing period. So if you return to work the healing period checks will stop. If the doctor releases you back to work you can expect your checks to stop on the date when the doctor states you are ready to be at work. Usually the doctor will say at the beginning of the next week you are released to return to work. Or the doctor will report you have reached maximum medical improvement and there is nothing else he or she can do for you. At this point your healing period will end and the healing period checks will stop.
What is a trial of work and how does that affect the healing period?
A trial of work is when the doctor releases you to what is referred to as light duty. Light duty is a job that may have reduced hours or restricted activity, such as no lifting over 15 pounds or no bending, twisting or heavy lifting. The nature of light duty is that you are unable to do the full work load. It is an attempt by the doctor to get you started on your way back to work.
Do the healing period checks just stop during a light duty work release when I get fewer hours?
No, you should receive a reduced pay check from your employer along with a reduced healing period check from the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Both checks will get you close to your net pay (take-home pay) you earned previous to the accident when you were first taken off of work. This is an opportunity for you to see if you can do this job or whether you need to look for other work.
It is a valuable opportunity for both you and your employer to see if you will be able to get back to doing your old job. So continue to do your home exercises and/or participating in physical therapy. Do your stretches and show up during the light duty. If the job just isn’t going to work out then talk with your lawyer about where you can receive vocational training and/or job search assistance.
The object of light duty is to get your back to work and earning a decent living.
This is the healing period of Iowa workers’ compensation.
Good luck and if we can help give us a call by using the contact box or calling the number you see for our firm. We’ve helped over a thousand clients just like you; so call today.