Schott Mauss & Associates, PLLC
Helping Iowans Who Are Injured And Disabled Obtain The Benefit They Deserve

Des Moines Disability And Injury Legal Blog

Yes, workers' compensation could cover a severe sunburn

You might have laughed if someone told you that they wanted to file for workers' compensation for a severe sunburn in the past, but now that you've been in the same situation and unable to work, you know how serious one can be.

While sunburns are generally temporary, workers' compensation may cover them in some instances, such as when you require medical care for exposure. Solar radiation is covered by workers' compensation, according to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. For this reason, all people who work outside should be provided with training about the dangers of the sun as well as with personal protective equipment when appropriate.

You may be able to obtain SSD benefits for a spinal cord injury

Suffering from a spinal cord injury can change the life of an Iowa resident temporarily or forever. Of course, the definition of temporary could mean at least a year, if not longer. If he or she cannot work during that time, the individual's financial situation could quickly deteriorate. It may be possible to obtain SSD benefits from the Social Security Administration to help provide for the individual and the family.

When an individual first receives a diagnosis regarding a spinal cord injury, doctors may give a timeline and/or prognosis as to when, or if, he or she will recover. At that point, it would be wise to begin considering applying for SSD benefits right away. It can take months to a year to receive a decision, and that is if the application is approved the first time.

Always report work-related injuries -- even seemingly minor ones

Iowa residents would probably not think twice about reporting a major on-the-job accident. However, they might not even think about reporting minor ones, which could end up being a mistake. It is always better to report work-related injuries even if they seem like no big deal since workers may be denied workers' compensation benefits because they failed to report the injury in a timely manner.

What may seem like a minor injury at first could quickly progress into a major health issue. The full extent of many injuries may not be evident for days or weeks after the initial incident. Meeting the reporting requirement is the first step in preserving the right to benefits.

Falls shoud be easy workplace injuries to prevent

Falls continue to be one of the biggest dangers to those who make a living in construction continues. The problem is that workplace injuries due to falls are largely preventable. With the proper safety measures in place, fewer construction workers here in Iowa and elsewhere should suffer serious or deadly injuries.

Authorities in one Iowa county are investigating the death of a 56-year-old construction worker that occurred on a recent Thursday morning. He was working atop some scaffolding on one of Interstate 80's bridges. As he worked on that river bridge, he fell approximately 30 feet.

Fire fighters can take steps to limit occupational diseases

Fire fighters do not have the option of picking and choosing the calls they respond to, whether here in Iowa or elsewhere. When they receive a call, they go and heroically put their lives in jeopardy to save others. They can see many of the risks they face but not all of them. Some fire fighters end up suffering from occupational diseases from exposure to chemicals and substances they cannot see.

It may be possible to limit the exposure. Fire fighters wear protective gear, including respiratory gear to keep them safe as they rush into burning buildings. However, what happens to their gear after the fact could make the biggest difference. Dust, fibers and other debris can settle on their turnout gear. If not properly cleaned after a fire, those particles can end up being inhaled or otherwise ingested.

Forklift operations 101: Avoiding injuries

Whether you work in construction, retail or a warehouse, chances are good that your duties may include operating a forklift. Even if that is not within your job description, you probably work around those who do operate these smaller versions of heavy machinery.

But even though forklifts are small in comparison to cranes or bulldozers, make no mistake — they can still cause injuries and fatalities to the hapless operators and their co-workers. Below are some safety tips for working with and around forklifts.

Can victims of work-related hearing loss obtain SSDI benefits?

Many Iowa residents work in atmospheres with consistent loud noises such as construction sites, manufacturing plants and more. The decibel levels in some of these work environments could lead to debilitating hearing loss over time. When the victims of work-related hearing loss can no longer work because of it, they may want to attempt to obtain Social Security Disability Income -- SSDI -- benefits to help make ends meet.

Hearing loss is a condition for which individuals can receive benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance program. However, each applicant must meet certain financial and medical criteria first. The first requirement is that the patient paid Social Security taxes from working at least part time for several years.

With work-related injuries, can I get a workers' comp settlement?

When an Iowa worker suffers workplace injuries, workers' compensation benefits can help them with their medical expenses, lost wages and more. These injuries can happen in any kind of job and have a negative effect of the person's life for an extended period. While workers who have been injured will want to maximize their benefits, there are cases in which there might be a disagreement as to the extent of the injuries, how much treatment the person needs and how long they will be off the job. In such instances, a settlement may be a wise step.

Understanding the types of settlements available is essential toward making that decision. A full commutation means that the person will receive a lump sum for any benefits he or she might have gotten in the future. When there is a full commutation, the employee can no longer get any other benefits for that injury. The employer must show that there is a specific need for it, and it serves the worker's best interests. A partial commutation pays part of the future benefits the worker is entitled to, but it does not stop any future rights to benefits.

Proposed rule could threaten SSD benefits for some

Everyday, individuals are diagnosed with illnesses and suffer injuries that leave them disabled. In addition to limiting their ability to conduct what were once routine activities, these disabling conditions can leave individuals unable to work. Without income, those who suffer from a disability can struggle to make ends meet while obtaining the medical care they need and deserve. Fortunately, those who are able to meet federal requirements may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

New rules proposed by the Trump administration may make retaining SSD benefits tougher, though. According to reports, the new rules, if implemented, would require SSD benefits recipients to undergo more frequent continuing disability reviews. These reviews are meant to gauge the improvement of an individual's medical condition, which can say a lot about his or her ability to return to the workforce. They also assess an individual's income and asset holdings to determine if he or she makes too much to continue to qualify for SSD benefits. If the new standards were to go into affect, more than 4 million additional reviews would be conducted each year.

Farm-related injuries are significantly underreported

Previously on this blog we discussed how those who have been injured while carrying out farm-related work may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can be crucial to injured workers, regardless of their occupation, given that the funds provided can be used to offset lost wages, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs. While that sort of protection can serve as a financial lifesaver to some, these benefits are not automatically handed out. Instead, injured workers need to take certain steps, including filing a formal claim. But before they even get to that point they need to report their injuries to their employer.

Sadly, recent research shows that only about 20% of all farm-related injuries are fully reported. This is no small omission, especially given the fact that many farm-related injuries are quite severe. Farm workers can be crushed or pinched by heavy machinery, they can fall from great heights, and livestock can trample them. Injuries suffered in any of these accidents may be covered by workers' compensation, yet only about 18% of the 20% of reported injuries were covered by workers' compensation. Not because the injuries in question didn't qualify, but rather injured workers more often turned to personal insurance and Medicaid.

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Schott Mauss & Associates
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Des Moines, IA 50324

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