How to Protect Your Rights

If you have been injured while at work or on the job, the best way to protect your rights is to contact an experienced workers’ compensation or personal injury lawyer.  A lawyer will be able to help file a workers’ compensation claim.  A lawyer will also be able to determine if you should file a lawsuit in addition to or instead of a workers’ compensation claim.

Additionally, a lawyer will be able to determine other types of compensation to which you may be entitled.  For example, if someone other than your employer or a co-worker was at least partly to blame for your injury, you may be able to file a liability insurance claim against that person or business.
If your accident isn’t covered by the workers’ compensation system (for example, if your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance or if you are an independent contractor), a lawyer will be able to help you determine people or businesses against whom you may be able to file a lawsuit.  This type of lawsuit would be covered under the laws of personal injuries.  Under personal injury law, you may be able to receive compensation for expenses that wouldn’t be covered under the workers’ compensation system, such as attorney’s fees as well as pain and suffering.

Contact a Iowa work comp lawyer representing clients in Ames, Iowa today to schedule your initial consultation.

How Do Workers’ Compensation Laws Operate?

Workers’ compensation laws are designed to allow employees who are injured at work to obtain a fixed amount of compensation, without having to sue their employer.  Workers’ compensation laws create an important “safety net” for employees who are injured at work or injured because of their job.  
Generally, workers’ compensation laws also provide some protection to employers and co-workers.  These laws may limit the amount of money that employees can obtain from their employers.  Injured employees may also be barred from suing their co-workers.  In this way, the workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault” system, where it doesn’t matter whose fault the injury was.  Negligence, whether of the employee, the employer, or a co-worker is not an issue.  The injured employee is simply compensated for his or her work-related injuries.

Workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy” with respect to work-related injuries.  The term “exclusive remedy” means that unless an employee can show that there was another a third party  responsible for his or her injury, workers’ compensation is the only benefit or monetary award that an employee can obtain.  A third party may be another company or manufacturer.  Employees are often injured by machinery or products that they use at work.  Many employees successfully sue the manufacturers of these machines or products for compensation for their injuries.  A lawsuit against a third party generally takes place in civil court, as opposed to workers’ compensation claims, which are generally handled by a state or federal agency.  Employers generally aren’t involved in these lawsuits, but most states do have a method that allows an employer to recover their workers’ compensation payments from the compensation that an employee obtains from a third-party lawsuit.  In some states, the employer and the insurance company that provides the workers’ compensation insurance join in the lawsuit against the third party.  This joinder allows the employer and the insurance company to protect their right to be compensated for benefits that they have already paid to the injured employee.  In other states, the employer is given a lien against any compensation that the employee may obtain.  The employer and the insurance company must wait until the employee actually receives their compensation award, then the employee must pay back any workers’ compensation benefits already received.  An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to advise you on the laws of your state if you think that a third party may be responsible for your on-the-job injury.

Who Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Laws?

Workers compensation coverage varies from state to state.  In some states, employees who work in certain fields may be exempt from their state’s workers compensation system.  These employees may include agricultural workers, domestic workers and independent contractors.  If you are unsure if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, you should contact a lawyer in your area who is experienced in workers’ compensation cases.  
Remember that even if you aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to sue your employer or a third party for compensation for your injuries.

What Is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation Benefit Claims and Civil Lawsuits?

Workers’ compensation is a substitute for a lawsuit against your employer.  When you bring a workers’ compensation claim, the claim is controlled by the workers’ compensation system and not the courts.  

Because you are bringing a claim under the workers’ compensation system, you are entitled to benefits, no matter if your accident was your fault or your employer’s fault.  Before the workers’ compensation system was created, employees had to go to court to receive compensation for their work-related injuries.  However, the current workers’ compensation system allows most employees to receive benefits.  In addition, this system shields employers from lawsuits brought by employees.
Bear in mind that even if you file a claim in the workers’ compensation system you make still be able to file a lawsuit in the court system as well.  You may be able to bring a lawsuit as well, but only if your injury was caused by someone other than your employer or by a faulty product or defective piece of equipment.  An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to help get the compensation to which you are entitled, whether it is through the workers’ compensation system or through the court system.

If you would like to schedule your initial consultation contact an Iowa workers' compensation attorney, representing clients in Ames, Iowa at the Lipman Law Firm. Give us a call at (515) 276-3411 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..