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What Happens After an Iowa Workers’ Compensation Trial?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2018 | Worker's Compensation

Most workers’ compensation cases are decided through settlement prior to trial or hearing. Your chances of obtaining an efficient and favorable settlement increase when you have a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney on your side. However, not all claims can be resolved in this manner. Workers’ compensation claims in Iowa that do proceed to trial are resolved through the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission before an administrative law judge.  The legal term for this type of dispute resolution is called arbitration.

Typically, hearings for a workers’ compensation claims in Council Bluffs, IA last around three hours. Parties can request a longer trial if it is particularly complex or contentious. The process for admitting medical records and similar evidence is straightforward. A Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (administrative law judge) hears the testimony and reviews exhibits.

After the various issues are decided by a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, a written decision is provided to the injured employee, employer, and insurance company.  Written decisions can take several months to be rendered.  The decision will include findings on the exact benefits an injured worker is entitled to and the amounts. Depending on the complexity or amount of factual evidence in a case, these decisions can be lengthy.

Obtaining Benefits from a Favorable Outcome

Given the timeframe of the overall claim, an injured worker likely incurred out-of-pocket expenses, including medical costs. The decision will state which of these costs the workers’ compensation insurance provider must cover. An Iowa lawyer can work with the insurance company to ensure clients receive timely compensation.

Often there are fees owed to a workers’ compensation lawyer after arbitration. Most workers’ compensation lawyers in Council Bluffs provide legal representation on a contingency basis. This means a lawyer is only paid if the decision is favorable for the injured employee. If the employee does not receive compensation, the lawyer will not be owed fees.

Potential for Rehearing a Case

If a party to the workers’ compensation claim feels that the decision of the Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner is incorrect, on any issues presented, that party is entitled to an appeal to the Commissioner. A significant percentage of the workers’ compensation cases heard before a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner in Iowa result in an appeal on some issues. This can mean up to more than a year between the initial hearing and appeal ruling within the agency.

Generally, parties are restricted on appeal from entering any additional information in the case or testifying again. Instead, a commissioner will review evidence from the prior hearing and the transcript to make a decision.

The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner in Iowa makes his or her decision independent from the Deputy Commissioner. If the determination issued by the Worker’s Compensation Commissioner remains unsatisfactory to one of the parties, the party is entitled to an appeal to the state district court.

Contacting a Lawyer for Your Workers’ Compensation Case

Engaging a workers’ compensation lawyer in Council Bluffs, Iowa can improve the likelihood of an efficient and favorable workers’ compensation arbitration. From the collection of evidence and handling due diligence, to arguments before the Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, a lawyer knows applicable timelines, requirements, and strategies for a case.

If you are engaged in a contentious or confusing workers’ compensation situation, speak with a qualified lawyer at Telpner Peterson Law Firm today. Walter Thomas at Telpner Peterson has over 25 years of experience in workers’ compensation in Iowa. Schedule a complimentary initial consultation today by calling 712-309-3738.