Even when an injured worker is receiving Iowa workers’ compensation benefits, there are times when there may be unknown benefits available. Certain types of cases may qualify for a “Second Injury Fund” claim. Most injured workers are never told about this, but it is important to understand what this could potentially mean for you.
Iowa’s Work Comp System
In the simplest terms, the Iowa workers’ compensation system divides work injuries into two categories. The first category includes “body as a whole” injuries. These injuries include but are not limited to, injuries to the neck, back, hips, head, or brain.
Most other body parts are considered as a “scheduled member” injury when evaluating entitlement to permanent disability benefits for your Iowa workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, permanent disability benefits for a scheduled member injury are limited to an assessment of the functional impairment in most cases.
What is the Second Injury Fund?
However, Iowa has established the Second Injury Fund to better compensate workers that have suffered an injury to certain scheduled-member body parts. This claim can be confusing at first, but it is very important to evaluate the situation to determine if your injury qualifies for this claim.
The first consideration as to whether your claim qualifies for Second Injury Fund benefits is to determine whether the current work injury has caused permanent disability to one of the following body parts: one hand, one arm (which includes everything below the shoulder through the wrist), one foot, one leg (everything below the hip down to the ankle), or one eye.
If your work injury is to one of those body parts, then it must be determined if you have a previous injury (called “a First Qualifying Injury”) to a different body part that caused permanent impairment.
Do I Qualify for the Second Injury Fund?
There are a few key points to consider for the First Qualifying Injury.
1. It does not have to be an injury at work. I often use the example that I fractured my ankle playing basketball as a teenager. That injury could count for this claim.
2. The injury must have occurred prior to the current work injury. 3. Finally, the First Qualifying Injury must be to a different body part as listed above. For example, if your current work injury is to your right knee, the First Qualifying Injury must be to one of the following: your left leg/foot, your left arm/hand, your right arm/hand, or either one of your eyes.
3. Finally, the First Qualifying Injury must be to a different body part as listed above. For example, if your current work injury is to your right knee, the First Qualifying Injury must be to one of the following: your left leg/foot, your left arm/hand, your right arm/hand, or either one of your eyes.
If you do qualify for Second Injury Fund benefits, the analysis for permanent disability centers on industrial disability, or loss of earning capacity. In other words, factors besides just the functional impairment are important for this claim.
The Second Injury fund claim is complex and requires a claim to be filed. Because of this, we strongly recommend contacting an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney if you believe that you may have a claim for Second Injury Fund benefits.
To learn more information as to whether you have such a claim and to get a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call RSH Legal today at 1-800-433-0283.