ABI Top Priority Workers’ Compensation bill debated today

March 16, 2017

The Iowa House is currently debating HF 518, which makes changes to Iowa’s workers’ compensation law. This is ABI’s top priority for 2017, and we are one step closer to seeing this significant bill get enacted. The bill makes much needed changes to rebalance the workers’ compensation system, including:

  • Shifting the burden to the employee when an injury may be due to intoxication, which helps protect workers
  • Clarifying the code after years of confusing case law that the date of injury must be reported within 90 days of the employee realizing the injury is work related
  • Ensuring employer light duty programs can continue
  • Making the shoulder a scheduled member
  • Ensuring that AMA guidelines for scheduled member injuries are adhered to by workers’ compensation deputy commissioners
  • Prohibits double recovery of permanent total disability benefits
  • Provides for credit for overpayments to workers
  • Requires that commutations can no longer be unilaterally requested by the plaintiff, but must be agreed upon by all parties
  • Ensures jurisdiction is clarified to prevent benefits shopping for higher Iowa benefits
  • Prevents attorneys from taking advantage of injured workers by taking fees on voluntary payments by an employer to an employee
  • Significantly reduces the interest rates on workers’ compensation judgements

Compromise is common in the legislature and some changes have been made to the original bill. The amended bill is expected to pass the Iowa House later today and will likely be debated by the Senate early next week.

The Iowa Senate must still consider the legislation. Please, contact your senator and ask them to SUPPORT SF 435/HF 518. We need you to do this now and through the weekend. If you have a forum in your district, plan to attend and voice your support for these workers’ compensation reforms to thank representatives who supported the bill and encourage support of your senators. If you cannot attend, call your legislators and ask them to support the bill. Your grassroots action is critical to the success of this legislation!