Time Limits in Iowa Workers' Compensation Cases

The law on time limits in Iowa Workers’ Compensation cases depends on whether you were injured on or before June 30, 2017; or on or after July 1, 2017.

INJURIES THAT OCCURRED ON OR BEFORE JUNE 30, 2017.

There are two time limits that apply in Iowa Workers’ Compensation cases. First, you are required to give your employer notice of any workers’ compensation injury within 90 days of the date of injury. While verbally telling your employer about a work injury can satisfy the notice requirement, it is best to provide written notice of the injury.

The second time limit relates to the requirement for filing a Petition for any workers’ compensation injury. The Petition is the legal document that is filed with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner and which actually starts the litigation process. If you were never paid weekly benefits for your injury then the Petition must be filed within two years of the date of injury.

If you were paid benefits for your injury, then the work comp Petition must be filed within three years of the last date of payment of weekly benefits to you.

It is very easy to determine when some types of injuries occur such as slipping and falling, being cut by machinery, etc.

However, it is much more difficult to determine the date of injury for cumulative trauma and repetitive stress type of injuries.

For injuries occurring on or before June 30, 2017 Iowa law provides that the date of injury for cumulative trauma and repetitive stress injuries is the date on which the disability from the injury “manifests” itself. “Manifestation” is defined as the date of which it would be apparent to a reasonable person that:

  1. They had suffered an injury;
  2. The injury was caused by the worker’s employment; and
  3. The injury is serious enough that it will have a permanent and adverse impact on the worker’s employment.

The Work Comp Judges have quite a bit of discretion in deciding when a pre-July 1, 2017 cumulative trauma injury manifested. Although there are no firm rules in choosing a manifestation date, the important factors are whether the worker had to miss work because the condition prevented them from doing their job, or whether the worker received medical care as a result of the cumulative trauma or repetitive stress.

TIME LIMITS FOR INJURIES THAT OCCURRED ON OR AFTER JULY 1, 2017

Workers are still required to give notice of an injury within 90 days of the injury.

The time limit for filing a Workers’ Compensation Petition is still two years from the date of injury if no weekly benefits were paid; or three years from the date of the last payment of weekly benefits if such payments were made.

The main change concerning Iowa time limit law is that the injury date no longer requires that the worker know that the injury is serious enough to have a permanent and adverse impact on the worker’s employment.

For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2017 the date of injury now means the date that the employee knew or should have known that they suffered a work related injury.

Therefore, it is critical that you give your employer notice of even the most minor injuries. Otherwise, if 90 days pass and it turns out the minor injury is actually more serious, you will be barred by the notice time limit requirement.

CONCLUSION

Time limit issues can be very complicated. For example, in cases involving injuries to multiple body parts the employer sometimes accepts some of the injuries, but denies other injuries. A worker may suffer a neck and shoulder injury out of the same incident, but the employer only accepts and pays benefits for the shoulder injury, and denies the neck injury. The worker might be paid weekly benefits for the accepted shoulder injury, and not paid any benefits for the contested neck injury. Therefore, the time limit to file the Petition for the neck injury is two years from the date of injury, and the time limit for the accepted shoulder injury is much longer and is three years from the last date of weekly payments.

Please call or email our office if you have any questions or concerns about satisfying the time limit requirements or any other Iowa Workers’ Compensation issues.