By Erin Tucker
On July 1, 2017, new workers’ compensation statutes took effect. The statutes have been changed in a number of ways.
A shoulder injury is now classified as a “scheduled” injury instead of a “body as a whole” injury.
It’s a significant difference.
If an injury is to a body part listed on the schedule, then the maximum amount of permanent, partial disability the worker can receive is limited by the schedule. For example, injury to an index finger is limited to a maximum of 35 weeks; a leg is listed at a maximum of 220 weeks.
Injuries not listed on the schedule are considered “body as a whole" or “unscheduled” injuries, and the resulting disability is not limited by the schedule, but determined instead by how much the injury affects the worker’s future earning capacity. Unscheduled injuries generally result in greater compensation.
Shoulder injuries used to be classified as unscheduled, but going forward shoulders are a scheduled body part just like a finger or a leg, and compensation is limited by the schedule, with a maximum loss of 400 weeks of benefits.
This change has the potential to have a devastating effect on an injured worker who has sustained a shoulder injury and cannot return to physically demanding work.
A new vocational rehabilitation strategy has also been put into place by this new law. When a worker sustains a shoulder injury and cannot return to gainful employment, the worker must now be evaluated by Workforce Development regarding career opportunities in specific fields that allow for accommodation for disabilities and vocational training.
Injured workers are also no longer entitled to reimbursement for a second-opinion by an independent medical examination if the employer denies the case. In other words, an employer of an injured worker whose case has been denied can require that the evaluation be performed by a doctor of the employer’s choice.
The employee is also no longer allowed to get a second-opinion at the employer’s expense. Before this change in the law, even when a case was denied, an employee could be reimbursed for a second-opinion evaluation if he or she felt that the employer-retained physician’s rating was too low.ed a shoulder injury and cannot return to physically demanding work.
Additional articles on this topic:
Iowa Public Radio: "Does Iowa’s New Workers’ Comp Law Give Shoulder Injuries The Cold Shoulder?"
The Des Moines Register: "Branstad signs bills limiting workers' compensation, blocking minimum wage hikes"
Link to the bill (HS 518): https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=87&ba=HF%20518
This Blog is made available by the publisher for educational and entertainment purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.