Pending Changes for Shoulder Injuries under Iowa Workers’ Compensation Law
As you’re likely aware, in April the Iowa State Senate enacted a comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill. We will be periodically updating this blog to detail highlights of certain sections. Further, if you are an employer or insurer and would like a comprehensive update or training on these issues please don’t hesitate to contact PBarta@BaylorEvnen.comto discuss the same.
One of the key amendments to the statute is the changing of a shoulder injury from an industrial condition to a scheduled member. Previously, pursuant to ICA § 85.39 (u), any injury which was not detailed as a scheduled member injury was considered an injury to the body as a whole. The impact of the same was that shoulder injuries were considered body as a whole injuries and accordingly, would entitle a claimant with an injured shoulder to assessment of industrial disability including but not limited to potential permanent total disability. This had been historically at odds with some of Iowa’s neighboring states such as Nebraska which held that a shoulder injury was a scheduled member injury albeit with a somewhat higher schedule of weeks applicable.
The Iowa State Senate has now amended the same to indicate that an injury to the shoulder is a scheduled member injury. However, please note that this will be the highest scheduled member indemnity injury on the basis that permanent partial disability benefits will be measured against 400 weeks. Recall that for scheduled member injuries, once a claimant has reached maximum medical improvement, you measure the 400 weeks x the permanent impairment rating.
This coincides with another relevant change via the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Reform statutes. Healing period has been amended which affects when permanent partial disability benefits become due. Section 85.34 has been amended to indicate that permanent partial disability begins when maximum medical improvement has been reached and when the percentage of permanent impairment can be determined by the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Accordingly, if a claimant has not been placed at maximum medical improvement but has returned to work, the age-old practice of paying an estimated PPD prior to MMI likely will no longer be applicable for injuries occurring after the effective date of the Act.
For questions regarding Iowa Workers’ Compensation please don’t hesitate to contact Iowa Workers’ Compensation attorney Paul Barta at PBarta@BaylorEvnen.com. Please continue to follow-up with the blog as we will be preparing entries for some of the additional amendments to the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act that were recently made in April 2017 by the Iowa State Senate.