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Workplace injuries

Posted September 10, 2014 in Advice Column, Norwalk

More than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness every year. If you suffer a workplace injury, it’s important to know your rights. Failing to notify your employer of your claim and pursue your claim in a timely manner can result in loss of benefits.

Statute of limitations. If no weekly benefits are paid for a workers’ compensation claim and a claim is not filed within two years from the date of injury, the claim may be forever barred by the Iowa statute of limitations. If weekly benefits were paid, a claim must be filed within three years after the date of the last payment of weekly benefits or it may be barred by the statute. This means that the injured worker would no longer be entitled to any weekly benefits from his or her claim.

The discovery rule. The statute of limitations can be extended based upon the discovery rule which states that the injured worker must have actual or imputed knowledge of the nature, seriousness and probable compensable character of the injury or disease before the statute begins to run. This means that the two year statute of limitations would not begin to run until the injured worker: (1) knows of the injury; and (2) is aware of its probable compensable nature. Therefore, in cases where the injured worker either isn’t aware of the injury or isn’t aware of the seriousness and probable compensable character of the injury, the statute doesn’t begin to run until this is apparent to the injured worker.

Cumulative injuries. When injuries that occur at work do not occur in a traumatic fashion but happen over time due to repetitive duties at work, the date of injury is the date which the disability “manifests itself,” that is, when it is apparent to a reasonable person that the injury is casually related to the claimant’s employment.

The employee must recognize that the injury has been suffered, that it was caused by or materially aggravated by employment and the condition is serious enough that it could have a permanent, adverse impact on the injured worker’s employment or employability to trigger the statute. For example, a person may have a minor back spasm while working which does not require medical treatment. It is likely that a minor spasm such as this would not trigger the statute of limitations to begin. However, if the back pain becomes more serious and causes the person to seek medical treatment or miss significant time from work, the statute of limitations may be triggered to begin at that point.

For more information about workers’ compensation, contact Nick at 515-697-4368 or

Information provided by Nicholas W. Platt, attorney at law, Hopkins & Huebner P.C., 2700 Grand Ave., Suite 111, Des Moines.

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