Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering for My Iowa Work Injury?

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Posted by Emily Anderson

After a work injury in Iowa, many workers come to us asking if they can sue for pain and suffering.  Unfortunately, Iowa law does not allow injured workers to do this.  Workers’ compensation is limited to providing three types of benefits:

1.      Medical benefits

Including the cost of your medical care and mileage to and from your appointments.

2.      Temporary disability benefits

These benefits help replace your lost wages while you are recovering from a work injury; and

3.      Permanent disability benefits

These benefits compensate you for any permanent disability you’ve suffered from your work injury.  The amount of permanent disability benefits you will receive depends on the severity of your injury and which body part you injured.

Why You Cannot Sue Your Employer For Pain and Suffering After a Work Injury in Iowa

In Iowa, you cannot sue your employer for a work injury in civil court.  You can only bring a workers’ compensation claim.  This is known as “the exclusive remedy.”

Many years ago, Iowa adopted its workers’ compensation law.  This was a bargain between injured workers and employers.  The agreement means employees can’t sue their employers for negligence and unsafe work environments that lead to injuries.  In exchange, employees do not have to prove the employer did anything wrong to cause their injury.

With this bargain, employers also get to choose where the employees get their medical care.  They’re also only responsible for paying the three types of benefits mentioned before.  In return, they don’t have to pay for things like pain and suffering.

If you’re thinking that this sounds like a lopsided bargain—I’m not going to disagree with you.  But this is the system that Iowans must navigate after a work injury.

Because the Iowa work comp system can seem so lopsided, we believe an injured worker needs the expertise of a workers’ compensation attorney.  An attorney can fight for the compensation you are owed.

Why Pain and Suffering Is Still Important to Your Iowa Workers’ Compensation Claim

It’s important to know that pain and suffering is still important to your claim, even if there is no compensation for it.  We have found that this type of evidence can sometimes be the best proof of how severe your injury is.

We encourage our clients to document their pain and how it impacts their daily activities.  We tell our clients how and what kind of information to keep track of when it comes to their pain, and its impact on their lives.  This information can be essential down the road when negotiating a fair workers’ compensation settlement.

If you’d like to know more about what benefits you can receive after a work injury in Iowa, call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1542.

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