On July 1, 2017, new workers’ compensation statutes took effect. The statutes have been changed in a number of ways.
A shoulder injury is no longer classified as “body as a whole” injury where industrial disability is awarded taking into account an injured workers’ age, education, and experience.
Going forward, a shoulder injury will be compensated as a “scheduled member” just like an arm or a leg based only on a percentage of loss of that member, 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 been put into place by the 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 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 is permitted to require an evaluation be performed by a doctor of the employer’s choice. But, the employee is not allowed 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.
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