Cutler Law Firm, P.C.

The 2022 Legal Landscape for Iowa’s Workers Compensation Practice

As we near the end of the year, we have an eye on our Iowa legislature beginning the 2022 Session, and decisions that could be handed down by Iowa appellate courts surrounding the “new” legislation that went into effect on 7/1/2017.    

Legislation from our 2021 Session:

  • Zero on-point legislation.  There were not any bills that made it past funnel during our legislative session 2021 (ended in April).  No new changes to Iowa WC law that impact Iowa employers, but for peace officers.  The only tangential law was in concert with a catch-all “back the blue” legislative effort.  Within that bill which became law, Worker’s compensation benefits for peace officers are not offset by retirement/disability benefits.

2020-2021 Commission Decisions of Import:

  • Deng v Farmland Foods, File No. 5061883 (Commissioner, 9/29/2020).  Rotator Cuff injuries do not extend into the body as a whole.  They are scheduled members, taken out of 400 weeks, with only the functional rating reviewed to determine the extent of impairment.
  • Martinez v. Pavlich, Inc., Order on Judicial Review (Polk Co. 4/21/2021).  This was a case where the claimant worked for a period of time for the defendant-employer after the injury, voluntarily quit for a better paying job, and Commissioner Cortese awarded an industrial disability.  The district court affirmed the decision but held that only the functional rating should be awarded (not an industrial loss) when Claimant voluntarily leaves (as opposed to being terminated) to work at a better paying job.
  • Chavez v. MS Technology, Order on Judicial Review (Polk Co. 4/29/2021).  Effectively affirms Deng.  A surgery of "shoulder arthroscopy with rotator cuff repair, biceps tenotomy, subacromial decompression, and distal clavivulectomy” is still the Shoulder.

Horizon:

  • Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Shoulder/BAW, and legislative response that would occur (Iowa: Governor, Senate, House: Republican, and by traditional assessments, Pro-Business)
  • Iowa Supreme Court ruling on constitutionality challenges to 2017 legislation
  • Commissioner ruling on whether an injury to both shoulders is a bilateral scheduled member injury (entitled to two functional impairment ratings, which each upper extremity rating taken out of 400 weeks), or an injury to the body as a whole (industrial disability analysis)

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any of your Iowa Workers Compensation or Employment law needs.

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