Workers’ Compensation

Do I have to pay to talk to you about my case?

No, initial consultations are free.

What is a contingent fee agreement?

Many people need legal representation but cannot afford to pay a lawyer’s hourly rate. An alternative to paying by the hour is the contingent fee. Most workers’ comp and personal injury cases are handled on a “contingent fee” basis. The lawyer’s fee is a percentage of (or “contingent” upon) the recovery you actually get on your claim.

The contingent fee percentages we use vary depending upon the nature of the case and other factors. Expenses for your claim are the responsibility of the client.We will prepare a written fee agreement for you and the firm to sign.

What is the Iowa’s Workers Compensation Act?

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation law requires most employers to provide wage loss and medical benefits to employees injured while working. You do not have to prove your employer was negligent.

What is a work injury?

“Injury” is broadly defined under the law.  If your condition arises out of and in the course of your employment, it is a work “injury.”

“Arises out of” means your work was a cause of or significant contributing factor to the injury.

In the course of” means you were injured while at the factory, on the job site, or while furthering your employer’s business.

If you have suffered an injury, you have certain rights and may be entitled to benefits.

What types of work injuries are covered?

There are different types of injuries that may be covered by workers’ compensation:

  • Acute Injury:  A single traumatic event causing physical injury.  It may involve aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
  • Cumulative Injury:  It gradually develops over time.  Frequently caused or aggravated by repetitive work, such as assembly, meatpacking, or up and down steps.
  • This can include back, shoulder, hand, arm or knee injuries.
  •  Hearing loss or ringing in the ears, frequently the result of longtime exposure to loud noise.
  • A disease that may be related to your job, like some lung diseases.
  •  Mental/emotional conditions, either on their own or together with a physical injury.

What if I had this problem before, but it got worse on-the-job?

You may still be entitled to benefits if your work aggravated or worsened your condition. A pre-existing condition does not disqualify you from benefits. A worker with a bad back made worse is an example. A company doctor may label it “congenital” and benefits are denied. However, a doctor who more thoroughly investigates the details of your work may find your work activities aggravated your old back condition.

Who is eligible for workers compensation benefits?

Most employees injured in Iowa working in Iowa are eligible for benefits. Employees hired in Iowa or whose employment is principally in Iowa may be eligible for benefits even if they are injured outside the state.

A few types of employees are exempt. If you are uncertain if you are eligible for benefits, you may need to seek the assistance of an attorney.

What should I do if I have a work injury?

Report it. There are important time limits. If you miss a time limit, you may lose your right to benefits.

  • Make sure you report the injury to your supervisor and anyone else your employer has designated within the time limits discussed at this site.
  • If your employer does not get notice of your injury on-time it may defeat your claim even though you suffered a work injury.
  • If you are a union member, you should also tell your union steward about your injury. While the union cannot give you legal advice, it can help guide you through the process.

What if my employer or insurance company denies my claim or does not pay what seems fair?

You have a right to file a formal claim for benefits. A contested case is a legal proceeding that leads to a hearing before a deputy workers’ compensation commissioner. There is no jury trial. Disputes are resolved by an administrative hearing held in front of a deputy or an assistant workers compensation commissioner.

The hearings are much less formal than a jury trial. At the hearing, you have the right to present evidence helpful to your case. The employer gets the same opportunity. After the hearing, the deputy issues a written ruling on if you are entitled to benefits and if so, how much.

The deputy’s ruling can be appealed to the workers’ compensation commissioner. The commissioner reviews the record and issues a “final agency” decision. Sometimes the final decision is challenged in the court system. This is called “judicial review.” Although it doesn’t happen very often, a case can be appealed all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court.

How are disputes handled?

When a dispute cannot be settled by agreement among the parties, you may file a contested case proceeding before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. While the commissioner does not require it, most employees are represented by legal counsel in a contested case proceeding.

Who chooses the medical care?

The employer has the right to choose the medical care and must provide medical care reasonably suited to treat your injury. If you are dissatisfied with that care, you should discuss the problem with your employer (or its insurance carrier). You may request alternate care. If your employer does not allow that care, you may file a petition asking it be ordered by the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.

If I have a work injury, what kind of medical benefits do I get?

Your employer must provide and pay for reasonable medical care to treat your injury.

No right to choose:

Unfortunately, Iowa does not give you the right to choose any doctor for treatment and have it paid for by the company. If you want to go to a doctor you choose you probably will have to pay yourself, without your health insurance.

Your employer is required to pay only for medical care it has authorized. SO MAKE SURE YOUR EMPLOYER HAS AUTHORIZED THE CARE. IF YOU GET UNAUTHORIZED CARE you may be responsible for the bill and not your employer.

What other benefits are available if I am injured?

If you cannot work because of your injury you may be entitled to “temporary” weekly disability payments.

Disability benefits:

Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company may make weekly payments while you are off work or getting reduced hours or pay due to your injury. How much will depend on your job situation. Temporary benefits will end when you return to work or the doctor says you can return to your job or similar work.

If you continue to work after being injured but have to take a job that pays you less, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. How much will depend upon the facts of your case.

What if I am left with a permanent disability?

You may be entitled to more benefits from your employer for permanent disability. They are paid weekly. How much permanent disability you are entitled to will depend on many factors, including part of your body injured and the severity of permanent physical or mental impairments.

If your injury leaves you permanently totally disabled, you are entitled to weekly benefits for as long as the condition persists.

How much is paid weekly?

The amount paid to you weekly depends on how much you were making before you were injured. There are several different ways that can be used to calculate this payment. The amount paid weekly for total disability is called the “rate.” Rate is used to determine temporary and permanent disability payment amounts.

Any workers’ compensation benefits you receive are not taxable. That is one advantage workers’ compensation benefits have over payments from a company disability policy or sickness plan.

Can the company fire or retaliate against me if I make a worker's compensation claim?

The Iowa Supreme Court has declared any retaliation by an employer against a worker for making a work comp claim is against the law. If an ignorant employer does retaliate, it can be sued and held responsible for any damages you have suffered.

If you have a protected disability you may also have protection under federal and state laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Iowa and federal civil rights laws.

Personal Injury

Do I have to pay to talk to you about my case?

No. Initial consultations are free.

What is a contingent fee agreement?

Many people need legal representation but cannot afford to pay a lawyer’s hourly rate. An alternative to paying by the hour is the contingent fee. Most workers’ comp and personal injury cases are handled on a “contingent fee” basis. The lawyer’s fee a percentage of (or “contingent” upon) the recovery you actually get on your claim.

The contingent fee percentages we use vary depending upon the nature of the case and other factors. Expenses for your claim are the responsibility of the client.We will prepare a written fee agreement for you and the firm to sign.

How long do I have to file my lawsuit?

The time limit to file a lawsuit varies, depending on the nature of your case. In general, an adult’s claim for personal injury must be filed within two years of the injury. Please refer to our discussion of Statutes of Limitations.

Exceptions to the two-year rule include injury to someone under 18 or unknown injuries. However, some claims have much shorter requirements, such as six months to serve notice in a Dram Shop claim involving a tavern.We can help you to identify what claims you may have and what time limits apply.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

Many factors go into the value of a claim. The more obvious and permanent the physical injury, the more complex and prolonged the medical treatment, the more time off work, the other party’s legal responsibility, the more a judge or jury is likely to award in compensation.

Other factors, such as personality and appeal of the parties and their witnesses, the ease or difficulty of obtaining necessary evidence, and your willingness and the ability of your lawyer to take your case all the way to trial can affect its value. The experienced lawyers at Rush & Nicholson take all these factors into consideration when evaluating a case.

Why should I hire a lawyer on my personal injury case?

We think advice from a lawyer is essential, but you are not required to have a lawyer. However, you may not recognize all the potential claims you have or the applicable time limits. You may not know the procedural requirements you need to follow to pursue your claims.

We know what you will need for evidence to prove legal responsibility as well as to prove your damages. We can help you evaluate your case and recognize the strengths and weaknesses in it. Rush & Nicholson can help you assemble, evaluate and present that evidence for settlement or at trial.

If your claim needs to be filed, a lawyer can prepare the papers in the proper form, file them in the correct places, and see that the technical requirements of legal proceeding are followed.

Rush & Nicholson will try to see things from your perspective and give you advice and information free of any bias or conflict of interest. If a trial or hearing is needed, your lawyer can present your evidence and protect your right to a fair decision.

This is just a summary. Much more can be involved. If you have questions about what can be done for your case in particular, please contact us.

How do I know if I have a case?

No one is eager to file a lawsuit.  Experienced lawyers at Rush & Nicholson can help you make an informed decision. A valid claim requires negligence by another person, corporation, or governmental body that directly caused you physical harm: like violating a traffic rule and causing an accident or renting you a broken tool that injures you. More than one person or thing can contribute to cause an injury.

If you’ve been injured and you feel someone else is responsible, it is wise to get a free consultation with a lawyer at Rush & Nicholson as soon as possible after your injury.  The facts will be fresh in your memory and important physical evidence may still be available.  With a full description of what happened to you, our lawyers will give you a free and unbiased assessment of your case.

Should I give a telephone statement to the insurance adjuster?

Insurance companies routinely ask to interview someone who has made a claim or been hurt.  It can be done in person or over the telephone.  Usually it will be recorded.  Anything you say when giving your statement can be brought up later, even at a trial months later.

As part of our representation, the lawyers at Rush & Nicholson help clients decide if giving a statement is wise.  Many factors are considered, including our client’s physical and emotional recovery after an injury.  We believe there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer because every person and each claim is different.

Labor and Employment Law

Do I have to pay to talk to you about my case?

No. Initial consultations are free.

What are terms under which you take on my case?

We represent labor unions on an hourly fee basis. For individuals, we typically take on short legal matters on an hourly fee basis. For more complicated legal matters, we typically take on representation on a contingent fee agreement. However, certain statutes have provisions which may enable you to be awarded attorney fees. In the event we are awarded attorney fees on your behalf, we lower our contingent fee.

How long do I have to file my lawsuit?

The time limit to file a lawsuit varies, depending on the nature of your case. In general, an employment claim must be filed within two years of the injury. Prompt consultation with a lawyer should be made to identify what claims you may have and determine what time limits apply.

How do I know if I have a case worth pursuing?

We strive to evaluate: a) what, if any, types of claims you may have; b) the potential strength of any claim; c) the potential value of any claim. Some individuals have their rights violated, but if they have suffered minimal damages, they may not find it worth the time and effort to initiate litigation. Some individuals have their rights violated with minimal damages, but other factors can make it worthwhile to bring litigation in order to stand up for your rights. There is no one size fits all answer. We take on representation in instances where we believe our office can make a difference in providing you a just outcome.

What materials do you want from me?

We want as detailed of a factual account as possible. We want any documents or e-mails in your possession which tell your story. We want to examine any employment handbooks, policies or written agreements you have with your employer.