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SOME COMMENTS FROM RECENT

POTHITAKIS LAW FIRM P.C. CLIENTS

When I first contacted your office, I was having so much trouble with
Insurance Company’s treatment of me my doctor had to double my
blood pressure medicine because I was so frustrated. The frustration
ended the day I called you and was told I would not have to have any
more contact with Insurance Company. I cannot thank you and your
great staff enough. –M.J.

I feel that without your help, I would have ended up with nothing. I
like that the whole time you looked out for my best interests even if it
meant you may not get as much yourself. I have and will continue to
recommend you to others. –D.M.

He did everything perfect the first time. He kept me in the loop, he


made me feel my case was very important to him, and he made sure
that I was treated with respect. I received answers to my inquiries
right away—there was no waiting period. When all aspects of my case
are done perfectly the first time, I don’t think he could improve any-
thing. –K.B.

My lawyer stayed on top of everything involving my case. He did what


he was supposed to do. He was very concerned about doing the right
thing. He explained things that I didn’t understand. He’s a very good
lawyer, and I wouldn’t want a different one. –B.P.

Niko represented me In two workmans’ compensation hearings which


I was awarded in my favor. He also defended me in the appeal pro-
cess in these cases. I was awarded several hundred thousand dollars
in compensation and medical benefits. That’s why I am glad I had
Pothitakis Law Firm represent me. –G.J.
Before I sought a lawyer, I was worried on how I was going to pay this From the first appointment with you, we felt a sense of peace. I’m sure
huge unpaid bill. Once I talked to Niko, he explained to me that they that it was pretty obvious that we had never been through a work-
had to pay this bill and not worry because they will have to pay it. He man’s comp case before, but we left knowing that having you agree to
got them to pay it and once he took care of everything for me, I stopped accept my case was the best decision that I’ve ever made. You obviously
worrying. –R.D. know your job and you never settled for less than you thought I de-
served. I don’t believe that there is anyone, anywhere that could have
Niko, words cannot express what your firm did for me. You and your done a better job or could have gotten us a better settlement. –W.D.
staff went above and beyond what I expected. You are a great attorney
and your staff is just awesome. If I have any problems in the near fu- I was dealing with all the stress from my daughter having had a se-
ture, I would not hesitate to call your firm. I was told you are the best rious accident and trying to get her the therapy and help she needed to
by S.S., and I really believe that. Thank you and your staff so much for gain as much back as she could. So, I didn’t have to deal with all the
being there when I needed you. –S.J. money issues alone. Your office was great, caring, and professional-
-very pleased. –P.L.
I feel Niko was able to get me medical attention when needed and also
got me the largest settlement possible, so I was happy overall. –S.M. All the staff were very professional. If I had any questions, they an-
swered them. During negotiations, Niko was willing to take the case to
I’m very happy with the way my case was handled. Niko did a great a hearing. He explained things and was able to get the most out of the
job of getting me as much money as possible. But he was also con- settlement. If he thought I was asking for too much, he would explain
cerned about getting me the best medical care first and foremost. –L.T. what I would get at a hearing bringing everything into perspective.
When I emailed, I always received a response promptly. They did an
Mr. Pothitakis was very concerned about how I was treated by my excellent job. Keep up the good work. I will definitely recommend you
employer and the insurance company that he stepped up and made it if someone needs an excellent worker’ compensation lawyer. –W.D.
personal. I don’t believe Mr. Pothitakis’s practice is solely for his own
gain. He is gifted in work he has performed for myself and I would I am very satisfied. Pothitakis sent me copies of all the persons he wrote
consider having him on my side at any time. –D.R. to. He kept on them. He fought for a decent settlement. I couldn’t ask
for a better lawyer that stuck by me and got everything I deserved for
Niko worked very hard on my case, as it was a difficult one. Niko the last two years. –S.B.
advised me well. With his hard work and knowledge he won my case.
I would highly recommend Niko for a workmans comp case. If you The case was complicated for a variety of reasons. Mr. Pothitakis and
want to win, call Niko. –K.C. his entire staff worked and analyzed diligently while remaining com-
passionate and professional. I would not hesitate to refer Pothitakis
Niko was kind and understanding as to my injury. He showed me re- Law Firm or contact them personally in the future. The level of service
spect and treated me very well. He was there to answer any questions and knowledge provided was extraordinary. –R.B.
or concerns that I had. Niko is by far the best lawyer I have ever had
to deal with. I highly recommend his services. –V.S. The Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C. and Nicholas Pothitakis have repre-
sented hundreds of clients over the past decade. Although, we believe
we provide excellent representation of our clients, the results turn on
the individual facts of each case. The testimonials we set forth are a
selection of some past client’s comments and are not necessarily the
experience of other clients. Their satisfaction should not be considered
a guarantee of success or satisfaction in another case as each case in SECOND EDITION
unique. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice
of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based

7 THINGS YOU MUST


solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. All potential
claimants are urged to make their own independent investigation or
evaluation of any lawyer being considered.

KNOW IF YOU
GET HURT
AT WORK
SECOND EDITION

7 THINGS YOU MUST


KNOW IF YOU
GET HURT
AT WORK
AVOIDING THE TRAPS THE INSURANCE
COMPANIES SET FOR YOU

NICHOLAS POTHITAKIS
ATTORNEY AT LAW
NICHOLAS POTHITAKIS ATTORNEY AT LAW TABLE OF CONTENTS
320 NORTH 3RD STREET
SUITE 100
BURLINGTON, IOWA 52601-0337

1-866-753-4692
319-754-6400

NIKO@POTHITAKISLAW.COM
NUMBER 1
WWW.POTHITAKISLAW.COM Don’t Miss the First Deadline—
www.iowawc.com Report the Injury Within 90 Days. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

NUMBER 2
Don’t Miss the Second Deadline—
File the Claim Within Two Years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

NUMBER 3
The Insurance Adjuster’s Primary Goal is to Resolve
Your Claim For as Little Money as Possible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

NUMBER 4
There are Situations When the Company
Doctor is Not
Copyright © 2011, 2014, 2016, 2020 by Nicholas Pothitakis Your Only Option for Medical Care. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any NUMBER 5
manner whatsoever without written permission of the author.
The Fact That You May Have Had a Preexisting
Printed in the United States of America. Condition or Prior Problem Does Not Preclude You From
Having a Compensable Workers’ Compensation Claim . . . . . . . . . . . 25
ISBN: 978-1-63385-389-8
NUMBER 6
Designed and published by Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Use a Number of Tools to Help You Receive
Word Association Publishers Maximum Value for Your Claim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
205 Fifth Avenue
Tarentum, Pennsylvania 15084
NUMBER 7
www.wordassociation.com The Amount of Money You Are to Receive on a Weekly
1.800.827.7903 Basis is Extremely Complicated to Determine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
POTHITAKIS LAW FIRM CASE EXAMPLES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

FREQUNTLY ASKED QUESTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 PREFACE


FIRM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Nicholas Pothitakis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Getting injured at work can be the beginning of a very scary and
RECOGNITIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 confusing time for you and your family. It becomes apparent
shortly after you get hurt that there are far more questions than
answers. In these tough economic times, it can be terrifying to
not know when or if your next paycheck is coming. Also, as the
medical bills start to pile up, you start to wonder, “Who is going
to pay all of these?” Your boss, whom you’ve always gotten along
with, now acts differently towards you and sometimes acts like he
doesn’t believe you. Your doctor doesn’t want you to go back to
work at full capacity, but you need a paycheck. And it seems that
each time you ask a question, you get the runaround and end up
more confused than ever.

I have put together this book to help provide some of the answers
you are looking for. I have dedicated my professional career to
helping injured Iowa workers. It is important for every worker
injured in Iowa to know their rights and to know exactly what
benefits they are entitled to under Iowa law.

Trust me when I tell you that the Workers’ Compensation insur-


ance adjusters, human resource managers, and medical case

11
managers know every nuance of the law. My goal is to level the
playing field between you (the injured worker) and the insurance
NUMBER 1
company. Don’t Miss the First Deadline—
Report the Injury Within 90 Days
My name is Nicholas Pothitakis. I have been practicing law for
20 years. Unlike some attorneys that handle a variety of different
types of cases, I specialize in helping injured Iowans. The major-
ity of my practice is devoted to helping injured workers in Iowa.
I have been a board member of the Iowa Association of Workers’
There are important deadlines and, whether you hire a lawyer or
Compensation Lawyers, Inc., since 2005. I was the President of
not, you are responsible for not missing them.
the Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Inc.
in 2015. I was a member of the Board of Governors of the Iowa
If you have been injured at work, the very first thing you must
Trial Lawyers Association from 2006 to 2007 and 2014 to 2015.
do is report the injury to your employer. Employees are required
I was a board member of the Workers’ Compensation Section of
to report a work injury to their employer within 90 days of the
the Iowa State Bar Association from 2000 to 2002. I was also a
date of the injury. Do not assume your employer knows about the
member of the Workers’ Compensation Core Group of the Iowa
injury. When in doubt, formally notify your employer that you
Trial Lawyers Association. Lastly, I am a long-standing member
have been injured on the job. It is always best to report an injury
of the Iowa Association for Justice and the American Association
in writing. If you miss this deadline, your benefits may be denied!
for Justice.

I know the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws backwards and


forwards. I am a fierce and fearless advocate for my clients. As
your lawyer, I will fight hard for your rights; I will make sure your
questions are answered; and I will level the playing field—that
is my guarantee. Once I take over your case, you will no longer
be ignored by an insurance adjuster. You will no longer be jerked
around by the insurance company. It all ends the day you hire me.

12 13
NUMBER 2
Don’t Miss the Second Deadline—
File the Claim Within Two Years

Injured workers have to file the Workers’ Compensation petition


within two years of the date of the injury to pursue a claim formally
before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The
two-year deadline—also called a “statute of limitations”—can be
extended if the employee receives weekly Workers’ Compensation
benefits. In that situation, the deadline is extended to three years
from the date that the last weekly Workers’ Compensation bene-
fit check was paid. Payment of medical bills does not constitute
a “benefit” and does not extend the statute of limitations. There
are other circumstances where the statute of limitations may be
extended, but those would be case specific and would require
analysis by a qualified Workers’ Compensation attorney. For this
reason, even if you are now beyond the two-year deadline, speak
to an attorney immediately, as there are ways to get around the
two-year deadline.

15
NUMBER 3
The Insurance Adjuster’s Primary Goal is to Resolve
Your Claim For as Little Money as Possible

If you are injured at work, you essentially are entitled to three differ-
ent types of benefits: Medical Benefits, Wage Replacement Benefits,
and Permanency Benefits.

MEDICAL BENEFITS: The first type of benefit is that the employer and
insurance carrier have to pay for the medical care that you need as
a result of your injury. The employer has the right to choose your
physician, but they are required to pay for your medical care. In
addition, they should pay you for the cost of gas and the use of your
vehicle to get you to and from your doctor (mileage expense).

WAGE REPLACEMENT BENEFITS: The second benefit you are entitled to


is wage replacement benefits if you have to be off of work as a result
of your injury. Each week that you are off of work as a result of your
work injury, you are entitled to receive a check which approximates
your take-home pay. The reason it “approximates” your take-home
pay is because it is nontaxable. If you are on restrictions and cannot
work your full hours or are paid a lower wage, you should be entitled
to what are called “temporary partial disability benefits.” Temporary
partial disability benefits are benefits that partially make up the
difference between your typical earnings before your injury and the
amount you are earning while on restricted duty.

17
PERMANENCY BENEFITS: The third benefit you are entitled to receive at your weekly rate. However, as indicated above, the impairment
is what is called “permanent partial disability benefits.” These are rating may not be the only amount that can be awarded by the Iowa
benefits that are paid based upon the severity of your injury and, in Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The impairment rating
some cases, based upon how it affects your earnings in the future. is typically considered the most dispositive factor in determining
This is the benefit that is typically discussed for purposes of a settle- the loss of use of the body part but is not the only amount that can
ment of a Workers’ Compensation claim. be awarded.

The Workers’ Compensation system provides that benefits are to


INDUSTRIAL DISABILITY
be paid if you have a permanent injury. The amount you are entitled
to receive depends on what part of your body was injured in the If the permanent injury is to your neck, back, shoulder, head, or hip,
work incident. If the injury is to your hand, arm, foot, or leg, it is an the amount is based on how the injury affects your ability to work
amount based on your loss of use of that body part. This is typically in the future. The calculation of how much you should receive can
calculated based upon an impairment rating from the AMA Guides become very complex.
to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. It is impor-
tant to note that the AMA Guides are not dispositive of the issue, With respect to a loss that is to your body as a whole, the amount
and there are ways to receive more than the impairment rating. you are entitled to is based upon how the injury affects your ability
to work in the future. This is called industrial disability. The factors
If the injury is a scheduled injury to your hand, arm, foot, or leg, then that determine your industrial disability include the following:
your entitlement is based upon which specific body part is injured.
As set forth in the table contained in this section (see page 21), each Impairment rating, worker’s age, intelligence, education, qualifica-
body part has a different value in weeks. This was set up by the legis- tions, experience, the effect of the injury on the workers’ abilities,
lature and is dispositive as to the amount of weeks each body part the inability to engage in employment for which the employee is
has as its total value. For a leg injury, the maximum value of a loss of fitted, and past work history.
leg is 220 weeks. If you injure a part of your leg and sustain some-
thing less than a complete loss of your leg, then you are entitled to
that percentage times the number of weeks. SHOULDER INJURY

With respect to a shoulder injury, the law is currently unclear as to


For example, if you have a knee injury and the doctor does surgery whether it is considered a scheduled or unscheduled injury. For
and ends up indicating that you have a 10% impairment to your leg, this reason it is important to talk to an experienced Iowa Workers’
you would be entitled to 10% of 220 weeks or 22 weeks of benefits Compensation lawyer concerning the same.

18 19
SECOND INJURY FUND
In Iowa, you can receive benefits from the “Second Injury Fund.” An SCHEDULED MEMBER DISABILITIES—NUMBER OF WEEKS
injured employee is eligible to pursue a Second Injury Fund claim if
An employee’s entitlement to permanent partial disability
they have previously had an injury to another arm, hand, leg, foot, or (PPD) benefits when a scheduled member is involved is based
eye. The previous injury does not have to be work-related. Second on functional impairment or loss of use. Below is a list of the
Injury Fund benefits are paid based upon the combined effects of scheduled body members along with the value in number of
the old injury as well as the new work injury. These benefits come weeks for each member:
WEEKS
from a fund set up through the State of Iowa. It is important in all
Loss of thumb 60
work-related injuries that result in a single schedule injury to evalu- Loss of first finger 35
ate whether a Second Injury Fund claim may be appropriate. See Loss of second finger 30
the case example on page 38 which illustrates how a Second Injury Loss of third finger 25
Fund claim can result in a significant change in value of the claim. Loss of fourth finger 20
Loss of hand 190
Loss of arm 250
INSURANCE COMPANY PAYMENTS
Loss of shoulder 400
Insurance companies, in many cases, will make a payment that is the Loss of great toe 40
minimum amount you would be entitled to receive. For this reason, Loss of any other toe 15
you could be entitled to significantly more money than what is Loss of foot 150
voluntarily paid. Loss of leg 220
Loss of eye 140
The business plan of a Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier is Loss of hearing in one ear 50
not built on trying to pay you as much as possible. Their business Loss of hearing in both ears 175
plan is to increase profit and grow their business. Permanent disfigurement, face or head 150

The schedule represents the number of weeks of benefits


Workers’ Compensation adjusters have been known to either be
payable for 100% loss, or loss of use, of the body part. If the
extremely nice so that you trust them and their advice or to be intim- permanent partial disability rating is less than 100%, the
idating so that you might fear them or not stand up to them. Do not percentage rating is multiplied by the number of weeks shown.
let their tactics and tricks get in the way of your best interests.
For example, a 10% loss of the leg would be computed at 10% of
Never, ever forget that the Workers’ Compensation adjusters have 220 weeks or 22 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits.
one primary goal: to pay you as little as possible.

20 21
NUMBER 4
There are Situations When the Company Doctor is Not
Your Only Option for Medical Care

Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, for an injury that


is accepted by your employer as work related, the employer and
Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier get to choose your
doctor. However, their ability to choose your doctor is not with-
out limitation.

The medical care that the employer chooses for you must be
reasonable, must be offered promptly, and must be reasonably
suited to treat the injury without undue inconvenience to you.

In situations where the employer or insurance carrier pick physi-


cians who are not entirely qualified or who are located great
distances from the employee’s home, the employee may be able
to force the employer and insurance carrier to provide care with
a different physician.

Another situation in which employees can choose a doctor


is when, under the law, an employee has the right to a second

23
opinion. An employee is entitled to a second opinion at the insur-
ance carrier’s expense when:
NUMBER 5
The Fact That You May Have Had a Preexisting
1) The Workers’ Compensation claim is accepted; Condition or Prior Problem Does Not Preclude You From
2) T
 he insurance carrier’s doctor has issued an impairment Having a Compensable Workers’ Compensation Claim
rating; and

3) The claimant believes the impairment rating is too low.

Although the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier chooses Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, an aggravation of
whom they will pay for the treatment of your work-related injury, a preexisting condition is treated the same as a new injury. If your
you cannot be stopped from seeking your own medical care with work injury makes your previous condition worse in terms of pain,
doctors of your own choice. The complexity of seeking care on severity, or frequency, you still would be able to obtain Workers’
your own is that your health insurance may not pay for the bills Compensation benefits. Although the insurance company and
associated with this medical care, because most health insurance the employer may very well try to argue that your current condi-
policies do not pay for work-related medical care. In my prac- tion is related to your prior problem, the medical testimony can
tice, there are many situations when I have my clients go to their typically establish the difference or change that has occurred with
family physician or to another doctor to obtain another opinion respect to your condition because of a work injury. This is the
in their case. case whether the preexisting problem was work related or not.

The problem that I continue to see is that certain physicians who The ultimate question is whether your work injury aggravated,
are chosen by the employer appear to be influenced by the insur- accelerated, or worsened the prior condition and resulted in
ance company, and for this reason seem to be more concerned disability.
about the insurance company than my client—the injured
worker. For this reason, it’s important to speak with an attorney
who can provide guidance as to whether you should seek medical
care on your own in order to obtain appropriate medical care or
a second opinion.

24 25
NUMBER 6
Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Use a Number of Tools to Help You Receive
Maximum Value for Your Claim

As an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney, there are a


number of tools that I use to enhance and maximize the value of
your claim. In many cases, I would send you to a doctor other
than the one chosen by the insurance company for a second opin-
ion. The purpose of the second opinion includes making sure that
you have received appropriate care and have received the best
possible outcome from your injury. Another way I can help you
is to make sure that we maximize any impairment rating that has
been sustained as a result of the work injury. Impairment ratings
can be very subjective, and insurance carriers tend to rely upon
them to value claims. As indicated previously, there are instances
when the second opinion expense is an obligation of the insur-
ance company, which results in no out-of-pocket expense for you.

As your representative, I will have your best interest in mind 100%


of the time.

27
NUMBER 7
The Amount of Money You Are to Receive on a Weekly
Basis is Extremely Complicated to Determine

The determination of how much you should receive when you


are off of work can be very complicated. The law sets out many
different ways that the weekly benefit should be calculated. I
believe that a number of insurance companies try to pick a calcu-
lation that results in the lowest benefit. It is not uncommon for
a Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier to pay benefits at a
lower or incorrect rate. Remember, just because they tell you it is
correct does not make it so!

As a general rule, the weekly benefit ends up being about two-


thirds of an employee’s average gross wage. The basic goal is to
approximate, to some degree, the take-home pay of an employee.
Workers’ Compensation benefits are not taxed. The error,
whether intentional or unintentional, by insurance companies
is that they determine the average earnings by including weeks
when the employee is on vacation, sick, or did not work his or
her regular hours. This is not an appropriate way to compute a
Workers’ Compensation rate. See “Maximum/Minimum Benefit
Rates” on page 31.

29
The computation of the rate is not only important for the bene-
fits that are paid on a weekly basis when an employee is off of MAXIMUM/MINIMUM BENEFIT RATES
work, but is important for determining the benefits that are
owed if the injury results in some level of permanent problem. An injured employee’s weekly benefit rate is based on 80% of
The benefits that an employee receives for having a permanent the employee’s weekly spendable earnings, but both maximum
injury are directly tied to the employee’s Workers’ Compensation and minimums apply. The maximum weekly rate for tempo-
rary total disability, healing period, permanent total disability,
rate. For this reason, it is very important for you to have your weekly
and death benefits is $1,864. (2020 maximum). The maxi-
rate reviewed by an experienced Workers’ Compensation insurance mum weekly rate for permanent partial disability benefits is
attorney. $1,715 (2020 rate).

For additional information, please go to my websites at www. The minimum weekly benefit amount for temporary total
disability or healing period benefits is equal to either the weekly
pothitakislaw.com and www.iowawc.com. These websites contain
benefit amount of a person whose gross weekly earnings are
more specific and detailed information about your entitlement to 35% of the statewide average weekly wage or the spendable
benefits. Further, if you would like to talk to me to discuss your weekly earnings of the employee, whichever is less. The mini-
issues, please call me. mum weekly benefit amount for permanent partial disability,
permanent total disability, or death benefits is equal to the
weekly benefit amount of a person whose gross weekly earn-
To schedule a free initial consultation, feel free to contact me at ings are 35% of the statewide average weekly wage.
1-866-753-4692, or e-mail me at niko@pothitakislaw.com.
The statewide average weekly wage for 2020 is $931.84. 35%
of the statewide average weekly wage is $320.00.

30 31
POTHITAKIS LAW FIRM CASE
EXAMPLES

A COMPANY DOCTOR’S OPINION THAT YOU ARE “FINE” DOES NOT


END THE CASE

W.K. contacted the Pothitakis Law Firm after sustaining an injury


while working for a local manufacturing facility. The claim-
ant sustained an injury to his lower back while bending over at
work. W.K. was sent to the company physicians who felt that his
condition would resolve and he would be able to return to work
without restrictions. In Iowa, the insurance carrier and employer
direct medical care for the employee. The insurance carrier and
employer choose the doctors that an injured worker goes to for
his care. Choice of care can be objected to by the claimant for
certain reasons. Further, a claimant can obtain a second opinion
at the employer’s expense in certain situations.

Despite the opinion of the claimant’s initial treatment special-


ist that his condition would resolve and that he did not have a
permanent injury, the claimant and Pothitakis Law Firm pushed
for additional care. The claimant was authorized to see a special-
ist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where the claim-
ant was referred to the Pain Clinic and completed the two-week
Spine Rehabilitation Program. The treating doctors at the Spine

33
Rehabilitation program indicated that the claimant’s condition hernia injury and, despite surgery, it continued to cause him
was permanent and that he would have to follow restrictions as a chronic pain and discomfort.
result of the permanent lower back injury.
A.R. had worked with an attorney prior to contacting Pothitakis
After the claimant completed his treatment at University of Iowa Law Firm, and that attorney had scheduled the case for hear-
Hospitals and Clinics, the employer indicated that they had work ing in Des Moines. A.R. was not happy with his prior attorney’s
available within his restrictions. The claimant and Pothitakis Law work and hired Pothitakis Law Firm. Mr. Pothitakis immediately
Firm objected to the work offered, on the basis that it was beyond commenced work on the case and prepared it for trial.
the claimant’s capabilities, given his injury. The claimant was ulti-
mately terminated from his employment position. The insurance company contacted Mr. Pothitakis and indicated
that they had an interest in settling the case for somewhere
Prior to hearing, the parties participated in a “mediation,” which around $75,000. They would expect A.R. to close his claim in
is a meeting with the parties where they attempt to settle the case. full. After consultation with Mr. Pothitakis, A.R. agreed that
At the mediation, the insurance carrier offered $25,000 to settle the offer was not sufficient and that he would proceed to hear-
the case in full. Pothitakis Law Firm and the claimant agreed that ing. A few months after hearing, a decision was received, which
the offer was not sufficient and proceeded to a hearing. found A.R. to be 100% disabled and entitled to weekly Workers’
Compensation checks the remainder of his life. Contrary to the
In a decision entered in late 2010, the claimant was found to have settlement offer from the insurance company, the claimant was
lost 50% of his ability to work, entitling him to a total award in entitled to weekly benefits for the rest of his life, plus the insur-
excess of $150,000. The claimant’s medical care also remains ance company would also have to pay for all of his medical care.
open and the responsibility of the defendants. Again, the injured The present value of the decision was in excess of $450,000.
worker’s willingness to stand up for what is right and to pursue his
claim through a hearing resulted in a favorable award. As Workers’ Compensation decisions award benefits on a weekly
basis into the future, A.R. informed Pothitakis Law Firm that
HERNIA RESULTS IN “PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY” AWARD he wanted to receive his benefits in a lump sum. To do so, the
Pothitakis Law Firm filed what was called a “Partial Commutation
The Pothitakis Law Firm was contacted by an individual who was Action,” which requests that the Workers’ Compensation
injured in a work related accident at work. A.R. had sustained a Commissioner award all of his benefits in a lump sum and also
leave his medical care open. Pothitakis Law Firm filed the case

34 35
and hired an expert to give an opinion as to why it’s in A.R.’s best in which the claimant developed Reflex Sympathy Dystrophy or
interest to receive a lump-sum payment in excess of $450,000 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
as opposed to receiving a weekly benefit. The case was settled
shortly before the commutation hearing. Conferences with the claimant’s treating physicians elicited opin-
ions that supported a claim beyond simply a fractured ankle.
This case illustrates the importance of fully evaluating a claim Pothitakis Law Firm scheduled an independent medical examina-
before accepting a settlement from the insurance company. An tion to obtain additional information concerning the claimant’s
offer of settlement from an insurance company may be because injury. Pothitakis Law Firm was successful in obtaining opinions
they find it in their best interest, not the best interest of the supportive of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The employer
injured worker. and insurance carrier continued to argue that the condition was
limited to the claimant’s fractured ankle and she would be enti-
LEG INJURY THAT WAS TURNED INTO A “BODY AS tled to no more money.
A WHOLE” CLAIM

K.M. sought assistance from Pothitakis Law Firm after sustain- The claimant’s case was presented to a Deputy Workers’
ing an ankle injury. K.M. sustained the injury while working for a Compensation Commissioner. A decision was issued. That
large nationwide retailer. As a result of the injury, she underwent decision found that the claimant not only had sustained a
surgery, physical therapy, and injections in her ankle. fractured ankle, but had developed Complex Regional Pain
Syndrome entitling her to benefits well beyond $6,000. In fact,
The primary issue in the case was whether the injury was only to the award entitled the claimant to over $40,000 in benefits.
the claimant’s ankle or whether it resulted in the condition called More importantly, the decision required the defendants to
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. If the condition were found continue providing medical care for Complex Regional Pain
to be only an injury to the ankle, the claimant’s entitlement to Syndrome. This condition will be lifelong for the claimant and
benefits under the Workers’ Compensation system would have will result in significant and expensive medical care for the
been approximately $6,000. The defendants actually paid the remainder of her life.
$6,000 and told the claimant that was all they would be paying for
the injury. After contacting Pothitakis Law Firm, an inquiry was This case illustrates that there are many complexities with respect
made as to whether the injury was simply a fracture of the bones to work injuries. An ankle injury may not seem complex or
or whether the injury turned into a nerve/pain syndrome injury susceptible to various valuations. This illustrates the importance

36 37
of speaking with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attor- problems with his left upper extremity. Claimant’s counsel
ney for injuries that may appear minor. filed a Second Injury Fund claim against the State of Iowa and
sought additional benefits. Shortly before trial, the State of Iowa
$500 OFFERED TO SETTLE–$500,000 AWARDED contacted Claimant’s counsel and indicated that they would offer
$500 to settle the case. They indicated that it was their opinion
The Claimant, W.D., contacted Pothitakis Law Firm concerning
that the claim had little or no value and they were willing to pay
an injury that he sustained while working for a local manufactur-
$500 simply for the matter to go away so that they wouldn’t have
ing company. The Claimant sustained an injury to his right arm
to spend their time defending the same.
as a result of repetitive work activities. Over time, the Claimant
developed pain and discomfort in his right upper extremity as a
Pothitakis Law Firm arranged a second opinion with a physician
result of performing his work. The Claimant underwent a surgi-
to evaluate both the right and left upper extremities. Pothitakis
cal procedure on his right elbow and was given a 14% impair-
Law Firm also had the Claimant undergo a functional capacity
ment. Based on this impairment rating, the Claimant was entitled
evaluation to test his capabilities and Pothitakis Law Firm also
to 35 weeks of benefits or approximately $15,000. The employer
had a vocational expert evaluate his abilities to obtain work given
paid these funds to the Claimant.
his upper extremity limitation.

In meeting with W.D., Pothitakis Law Firm determined that the


Upon the advice of counsel, W.D. rejected the $500 offer and
employer was not obligated to pay any additional funds but there
proceeded to hearing. At hearing, the Claimant was found to be
might be a way to obtain additional funds via a Second Injury
permanently and totally disabled as a result of his old left arm
Fund claim. An injured employee is eligible to pursue a Second
fracture from when he was a child combined with his new right
Injury Fund claim if they previously had an injury to another arm,
elbow injury. This award resulted in the Claimant being entitled
hand, leg, foot, or eye. After reviewing the Claimant’s medical
to in excess of $500,000 on a present value basis.
records, Pothitakis Law Firm determined that they could pursue
a Second Injury Claim based upon a fractured left arm that the
Second Injury Fund claims are difficult but need to be investi-
Claimant had sustained when he was a child. It should be noted
gated as they can be significantly valuable.
that at the time of the hearing, the Claimant was in his 60’s.

Although the fractured arm when he was a child was not surgi-
cally repaired, the Claimant had suffered from intermittent

38 39
TINNITUS AND HEARING LOSS CLAIM in him falling. As a result of the fall, the Claimant sustained a
neck injury. The Pothitakis Law Firm alleged and argued that
G.J. sustained hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of noise expo-
Claimant’s leg gave out as a result of his back injury, which
sure at work. The claimant subsequently experienced depression
resulted in the neck injury. Pothitakis Law Firm was successful
due to the hearing loss and tinnitus. The claim was denied by the
in requiring the Defendants to accept and pay for all medical care
Iowa employer and the Iowa Workers’ Compensation insurance
relating to the neck injury as part of the original claim. Under
carrier and they denied that the worker’s condition was related to
Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, any consequences from the
noise exposure at the workplace. The case proceeded to hearing.
original injury are tied to the claim and the responsibility of the
At hearing, an Iowa Workers’ Compensation Deputy disagreed
Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier.
with the Iowa employer and insurance carrier and awarded the
claimant lifetime worker’s compensation benefits. Unsatisfied
The Claimant had a limited education and spent most of his life
with the result, the insurance company appealed to the Iowa
working heavy labor positions. As a result of the low back and
Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, the Iowa district court,
neck conditions, the Claimant was limited in the amount of
and finally to the Iowa Supreme Court. In all appeals, Pothitakis
weight that he could lift and the types of physical activities he
Law Firm successfully kept the award of Lifetime Benefits.
could undertake. Pothitakis Law Firm consulted with his physi-
Pothitakis Law Firm pursued what is referred to as a partial
cians and obtained favorable reports concerning the Claimant’s
commutation for the claimant, requesting the payment of all
desire and attempts to recover from his injuries. The doctors
benefits in one lump sum. Once again, the case went to hearing
provided reports detailing the limitations that the Claimant
and the Deputy awarded benefits to be paid in a lump sum close to
would face in the future from his injuries.
$650,000. The Defendants again appealed and wanted the deci-
sion over-turned. Pothitakis Law Firm fought to keep the award
Pothitakis Law Firm referred the Claimant for a functional
for their client and won. The claimant’s total award of benefits
capacity evaluation to determine his physical capabilities. The
has been approximately $1,000,000 as a result of the hearing loss,
functional capacity evaluation showed that the Claimant’s lift-
tinnitus, and depression.
ing limits were significantly reduced and he would likely not be
able to return to his past employment. Pothitakis Law Firm also
NECK AND BACK INJURY
sought the services of a vocational rehabilitation expert who gave
The Claimant sustained an injury to his low back. He was required an opinion to Claimant’s ability to retrain and obtain employ-
to undergo low back surgery as a result of the injury. While recov- ment in the future. The vocational expert set forth an opinion
ering from his low back injury, his leg gave out which resulted

40 41
that the Claimant was significantly limited in his future ability to Law Firm set forth the reasons why the Claimant should receive
find employment. his benefits in a lump sum as opposed to weekly.

Pothitakis Law Firm set forth what we believed to be a reasonable After hearing, a decision was received which awarded the
demand to try to resolve the claim. The Workers’ Compensation Claimant the partial commutation. The decision awarded the
insurance carrier took the position that they were not going to Claimant close to $300,000 in benefits in a lump sum as opposed
respond to the settlement demand and would prefer to proceed to him receiving $230 per week. The Claimant was extremely
to hearing. The case went to hearing and Pothitakis Law Firm satisfied with the award, and it was ultimately paid by the insur-
and the Claimant appeared before a judge and presented the case ance carrier.
before an Iowa Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
After the hearing, a decision was received awarding the Claimant This case illustrates the fact that Workers’ Compensation insur-
lifetime Workers’ Compensation benefits. This is called a “perma- ance carriers, on many occasions, fail to recognize the value of
nent total disability.” It was the best decision the Claimant could an injured party’s Workers’ Compensation claim. It also illus-
receive. In addition to lifetime benefits, the Defendants were trates the fact that sometimes the best course of action in a case is
responsible for the Claimant’s medical care. simply to proceed to hearing to obtain a decision from the judge.

After the decision was received, the Claimant indicated to The results from the cases of the Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C. are diverse
Pothitakis Law Firm that he did not want to receive weekly bene- and the results vary considerably. The case results are not a guarantee
fits and preferred to have all of the money paid in a lump sum. of future results as they are specific to facts and legal circumstances
Pothitakis Law Firm approached the Workers’ Compensation of each clients’ cases and for this reason should not form the basis
insurance carrier and requested that the benefits be paid in a for future expectations on a difference case. These cases may not be
lump sum. The Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier indi- typical and there are many factors that determine the result of a case.
cated that they would not pay the benefits in a lump sum. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a
lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based
At that point, Pothitakis Law Firm filed what is called an solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. All potential
“Application for Partial Commutation.” A partial commutation is claimants are urged to make their own independent investigation or
a request to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner that the evaluation of any lawyer being considered.
benefits be paid in a lump sum. Filing for a partial commutation
resulted in the case being set for hearing. At hearing, Pothitakis

42 43
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I Be Terminated For Seeking Iowa Workers’ Compensation


Benefits?

An Iowa employer may not terminate or discriminate against


an employee for seeking Workers’ Compensation benefits
under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act. A discharge
based upon retaliation for seeking Workers’ Compensation
benefits is considered against Iowa Public Policy. Springer v.
Weeks & Leo Co., 429 N.W.2d 558 (Iowa 1988). Termination
and retaliation for someone seeking Workers’ Compensation
benefits can result in significant damages being owed by the
employer to the employee, including lost wages.

For an injury to be covered under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation


laws, does it have to be one traumatic incident or can it occur over
time?

In Iowa, traumatic injuries as well as what are called cumulative


injuries are covered under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation
Act. Many injuries occur as a result of repetitive activities or

45
injuries that occur over time. As long as the injury is related remarries, for an additional 2 years after that remarriage.
to the work activities, then Iowa Workers’ Compensation Children are entitled to benefits to the age of 18 unless they
benefits should be provided. are actually dependent beyond the age of 18 and then those
benefits can continue under certain circumstances. If a child
Many workers in Iowa sustain disabling injuries as a result
is in college, they can receive benefits up to the age of 25.
of repetitive lifting, bending, twisting, etc. The fact that one
Physically or mentally incapacitated children can receive
specific event does not cause the injury does not preclude
benefits for the time they remain physically or mentally
their entitlement to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits,
incapacitated. Depending upon the number of dependents
including medical care and weekly Workers’ Compensation
(spouse and children), the Workers’ Compensation benefit
checks. In fact, many very serious injuries occur gradually
would be split in some fashion.
as opposed to from one specific event. Both traumatic and
cumulative injuries are treated the same under Iowa Workers’ In addition to weekly benefits for the decedent’s family,
Compensation laws. If your injury comes on gradually, it is employers are responsible for burial expenses and medi-
important to report it as soon as you believe it’s a more seri- cal expenses as a result of the injury and death. (Iowa Code
ous condition . Cumulative-type injuries, or gradual injuries, Section 85.28 and Iowa Code Section 85.31.)
are hotly contested Iowa Workers’ Compensation claims and
If there are no dependents then the only benefits that are
for that reason it may be beneficial to speak with an experi-
provided are medical expenses caused as a result of the work
enced Iowa Workers’ Compensation attorney. There are
injury and burial expenses. (Iowa Code Section 85.29.)
deadlines that have to be met whether the injury is cumula-
tive (gradual) or in one specific incident.
How are back injuries compensated under the Iowa Workers’ Comp
laws?
What benefits does my family receive if my death is from a work
related injury?
When you injure your low back, middle back or in fact any
portion of your back while working you are entitled to bene-
In Iowa, family members are entitled to death benefits if an
fits under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws. Low back
employee’s death is a result of a work-related injury under
injuries are significant in the Iowa work comp system because
the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws. A surviving spouse
back limitations can have a drastic affect a person’s ability
is entitled to benefits for the remainder of her life or if she

46 47
to work. The effect an Iowa work comp injury has on your companies to ignore this obligation to reimburse for mileage
ability to work is the primary driver of the amount of money expense. It is not up to them whether to pay for mileage or
the system will pay for a work related injury. If an employee not. They are required by law to provide this money to you
sustains a permanent back injury they are entitled to benefits for an accepted Iowa Workers’ Compensation claim. Several
based on how the back injury affects their ability to work and of my clients who have sustained work related injuries are
earn money. These benefits are called “industrial disabil- financially in a very difficult position, and the failure to pay
ity benefits.” Ultimately there is a determination of how the mileage only further compounds the problems. You must
injury affects your ability to work in percentage terms. If you carefully keep track of your mileage for all trips related to
lose 50 percent of your ability to work you would be entitled your work injury medical care so that you can submit them
to 50 percent of 500 weeks (amount set by law) or 250 weeks and be paid. You may need to seek assistance from a Workers’
of Workers’ Compensation benefits for the injury. Back Compensation lawyer, such as Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., if
injuries are frequently pursued under the Iowa work comp you find that the Iowa Workers’ Compensation carrier does
system as there are a significant amount of employment posi- not pay for mileage expenses in a timely manner. We provide
tions that are precluded for persons with permanent low back free initial consultation to discuss this and any other worker
injuries and limitations. compensation problems.

I am traveling to and from doctor and physical therapy appointments I read about being entitled to penalty benefits if the Workers’
a couple times a week. Gas expenses are killing me. Is there anything Compensation carrier does not pay me my Iowa Workers’ Compen-
I can do? sation benefits in a timely manner. Is this true?

You are entitled to be reimbursed for mileage to and from Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws an insurance
your medical appointments under the Iowa Workers’ carrier is required to provide Iowa work comp benefits in a
Compensation laws. Currently, the rate of reimbursement timely manner. They cannot simply wait and delay for the
per mile is 57.5 cents. The Iowa Workers’ Compensation sake of delay. It is shocking how often insurance companies
Insurance carrier should have told you that you are enti- fail to abide by their obligation and pay benefits when due.
tled to be paid mileage and actually paid you this rate. In When an employee is off work as a result of an Iowa work
my experience, it is typical for Iowa Work Comp insurance related injury, the employee is entitled to weekly Workers’

48 49
Compensation benefits in place of the wages that are not fact your health insurance may ultimately deny the charges as
being paid. These benefits are to be paid in a timely manner some health insurance policies do not provide coverage for
under Iowa law. My office spends a considerable amount work related conditions. If the claim is not being accepted
of time tracking down these late benefits. Penalty benefits by the Iowa Workers’ Comp carrier, then you would need to
can be obtained for the failure to pay benefits when due. A use your health insurance for your medical care. In this situ-
penalty benefit can be paid when benefits are unreason- ation (denied claim) the law requires your health insurance
ably delayed and this penalty can be up to 50 percent of the to process your medical expenses under the policy terms.
amount unreasonably delayed. For example, if a $500 check Determining whether the claim is accepted or denied can be
is unreasonably delayed, the employee may be entitled to an difficult and for this reason it is important to talk to an expe-
additional $250 from the insurance carrier. Any delay, even rienced Iowa Workers’ Compensation lawyer. Most Workers’
small can be devastating to an injured employee and his or Compensation attorneys, such as the Pothitakis Law Firm,
her family. The amount of penalty that could be awarded can P.C. provide a free initial consultation to discuss your issues.
be a complicated matter and for this reason it is helpful to
speak to an experienced Iowa Work Injury Attorney, like the
If I do not realize I have an injury until several months after the injury
Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C.
occurred, is it too late for me to report and file the claim?

I was injured at work and my employer is telling me to use my health Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws, you are
insurance for my Iowa Workers’ Comp injury. Is this correct? required to 1) report your injury within ninety days of
the date of its occurrence and 2) file the claim within two
It really depends on whether your employer and the insur- years of the date of the injury (or three years if you receive
ance carrier are accepting or denying that you have a work weekly Workers’ Compensation benefits). These are the two
injury. Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws the deadlines you have to meet in order to pursue a successful
employer and Iowa Workers’ Compensation insurance Workers’ Compensation claim.
carrier are required to provide medical care for work related
In certain situations the 90-day deadline and the two year
Iowa injuries. For claims that they accept, they are allowed to
deadline can be extended. If you do not recognize the
direct care and choose the doctor, but they also have to pay
nature, seriousness, and probable compensable character
for the medical care expenses. You should not use your health
of the injury, you may be able to extend the deadlines. An
insurance if the Iowa work comp claim is being accepted. In

50 51
example would be if you have some aches and pains that to this type of benefit under the Iowa work comp system,
you don’t report because you suspect they will get better. such as your age, education, past work history, restrictions,
If they do not get better after a several months, then they and impairment rating. These are only some of the many
still may be able to pursue a viable claim. The argument factors that are reviewed to assess how much money you are
is that you didn’t think the aches and pains were serious entitled to receive. The weight and effect that each of these
until they continued for several months. It is always risky factors have on how much money you receive under the Iowa
to wait on the reporting or filing of a claim and for this Workers’ Compensation laws are very complex issues and an
reason you should take action promptly. attorney will likely be able to assist you.
Because of the complexity of these deadlines, it is important Iowa Workers’ Compensation cases in which an employee’s
to speak to an experienced Iowa Workers’ Compensation injury does not result in a permanent injury are the types of
Attorney. Many will offer a free initial consultation similar to cases where an employee may not need to seek the services
Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C. of an attorney. The best course of action for an injured Iowa
employee would be to contact an attorney who handles Iowa
Do I need a lawyer to help me with a Workers’ Compensation claim? Workers’ Compensation claims to discuss whether an attor-
ney’s services are necessary. Many Workers’ Compensation
With respect to many Iowa Workers’ Compensation claims, attorneys provide a free initial consultation similar to what is
you may not need to retain the services of an attorney. offered at Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., where those issues can
However, there are situations in which you would be better be discussed in greater detail.
served by obtaining some assistance or guidance from an
experienced Iowa Workers’ Compensation attorney.
If I experience a work related injury, who makes the decision regard-
With respect to injuries to your neck, back, shoulder, or hip, ing what doctor I will see?
one benefit under Iowa law that you would be entitled to is
called industrial disability benefits. These benefits are paid In accordance with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws for
based upon how your injury affects your ability to work and an injury that is acknowledged by your employer as related
earn money after the Iowa work injury. There are a multi- to your work activities, the employer and Iowa Workers’
tude of factors that go into the analysis of your entitlement Compensation insurance company are allowed to decide

52 53
what physician you will see. Their right to decide which Does my employer in Iowa have to comply with my work-related
physician has some limitations. The medical treatment that is injury restrictions?
chosen by the employer is required to be reasonable, prompt,
and reasonably appropriate to treat the condition without If you are injured at work and put under restrictions by your
unwarranted inconvenience to the worker. In cases that the physician, the employer either has to provide you work
employer or Iowa Work Comp insurance company choose within those restrictions or allow you to stay home and
doctors who are either unqualified or who are located very receive weekly Iowa Workers’ Compensation benefits. In
far from the worker’s residence, there is the possibility that many cases, the employer may ask you to come to work to
the worker may force the employer and insurance carrier to perform light duty work under the restrictions after your
find a different doctor to treat them. Iowa work injury. If this is the case, you are either entitled to
similar pay as to what you were making prior to your injury
One more instance where the worker may have a choice of
or your pay check plus an additional check from the Workers’
treatment is when the worker has the legal right in Iowa to
Compensation insurance carrier to make up the difference.
a second opinion. Under the law, the Iowa Workers’ Comp
This is called temporary partial disability benefits. If your
Insurance carrier must pay for a second opinion when:
restrictions are ultimately put in place as permanent restric-
1. The Iowa Workers’ Compensation claim is tions, the employer then has to make a decision as to whether
accepted; they can comply with your restrictions. The Family and
Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities may
2. An impairment rating has been given by the Iowa
provide you some protection against losing your job.
Work Comp insurance carrier’s physician;
Return to work issues after a work related injury are very
3. The injured employee deems the impairment
complex issues. For this reason, it’s important to talk with a
rating as too low.
Workers’ Compensation attorney concerning these issues to
These kinds of questions need to be answered by an attor- make sure your rights are protected.
ney who has considerable experience in Iowa Workers’
Compensation law.

54 55
Does an injury at work in Iowa have to be pursued through the Iowa
Workers’ Compensation system? Can I still seek Iowa Workers’ Compensation if I had previous back
issues and my Iowa work injury worsened my back problems?
If you sustain an injury that is covered under the Iowa
Workers’ Compensation system, you are subject to In accordance with Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws,
jurisdiction before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation a deterioration of a pre-existing physical problem will be
Commissioner. Most Iowa work injuries would be subject to considered a new Iowa work injury. You will still qualify for
the Iowa Work Comp System. There are some injuries that Iowa Workers’ Compensation benefits if your Iowa work
are not covered. If your injury is covered, you are entitled to injury worsens your prior problem in regards to pain, severity,
certain workers’ compensation benefits under the law and or frequency. The Iowa Workers’ Compensation insurance
cannot, in most cases, pursue a claim outside of the Iowa company and your employer might try to dispute that your
Workers’ Compensation system. It is always important to present injury is linked to your previous condition. However,
talk to an Iowa Workers’ Compensation lawyer to determine the medical testimony can usually validate changes/worsen-
the specifics of whether your claim is covered. (Iowa Code ing of your condition due to an Iowa work comp injury. This
Section 85.1) is true regardless if the pre-existing condition was due to
work or not.

What time deadlines do I need to meet if I am injured in an Iowa The medical proof that needs to be founded is that your Iowa
Workers’ Compensation Injury? work injury worsened your previous problem in creating
disability.
If you are injured on the job, you need to meet two deadlines.
Therefore, if you experience any kind of Iowa Workers’
First, you need to provide notice to your employer within 90
Compensation aggravation injury, or if your condition wors-
days of the date of your Iowa work injury. Second, you need to
ens due to a work activity, it is extremely important that you
file the claim within 2 years of the date of the injury or 3 years
report it to your employer so that it can be reviewed. In these
from the date of your last weekly Workers’ Compensation
scenarios, it may be advisable to consult with a professional
benefit, whichever is later. You may be able to extend these
Iowa Workers’ Compensation lawyer.
deadlines if you do not know the seriousness or compensable
character of your injury until a later date.

56 57
Am I entitled to Iowa Workers’ Comp benefits if my injury came on What benefits am I entitled to receive if I sustain an injury at work?
gradually at work due to my work activities, instead of one particular
work incident? If you are injured at work in Iowa, you essentially are entitled
to three different types of benefits, Medical Benefits, Wage
Iowa Workers’ Compensation injuries can be categorized as Replacement Benefits and Permanency Benefits.
traumatic occurrences or what we refer to as “cumulative inju-
1. The first type of benefit that you are entitled to is to have
ries.” Cumulative injuries are Iowa work injuries that progress
your medical expenses paid for medical care received as
gradually due to an activity at the workplace. Traumatic inju-
a result of the work injury. The employer has the right to
ries and cumulative injuries are both eligible for compensa-
choose your physician, but they are required to pay for your
tion in accordance with Iowa Workers’ Compensation laws.
medical care. In addition, they should pay you the cost of gas
In several situations, your employer and the Iowa Work and use of your vehicle to get you to and from your doctor
Comp Insurance company attempt to disprove the cumula- (mileage expense).
tive injury claims. When you have a physical condition that
2. The second benefit you are entitled to is wage replacement
you deem as being work related, it is necessary that you bring
benefits if you have to be off work as a result of your injury.
this to your doctor’s attention at the time of your appoint-
Each week that you are off of work as a result of your work
ment. Also, it is necessary to tell your employer that this
injury, you are entitled to receive a check which approximates
condition could be work related.
your take-home pay. The reason it “approximates” your take
You need to fill out an accident form or an incident report home pay is because it is non-taxable.
from your place of work. This provides notice to your
3. The final benefit you are entitled to receive is what is called
employer of your possible Iowa Workers’ Comp injury
permanent partial disability benefits. These are benefits that
claim. Your right to Iowa Workers’ Compensation benefits
are paid based upon the severity of your injury and, in some
would be influenced by whether the physicians determine
cases, based upon how it affects your earnings in the future.
that your work injury was caused or aggravated by your Iowa
This is the benefit that is typically discussed for purposes of a
work activities.
settlement of a Workers’ Compensation claim.

There are other benefits that you are entitled to if you are
injured at work and an experienced Workers’ Compensation

58 59
lawyer can provide you guidance concerning those additional 5. That fact that you are discussing the claim with the
benefits. Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier does not end your
obligation to meet the deadlines imposed by the Workers’
Compensation laws. Those laws require you to file the claim
What are some of the things I need to be careful of when dealing with
within two years of the date of injury or three years from the
a Workers’ Compensation claim?
date of the last payment of weekly Workers’ Compensation
benefits.
1. Always understand the Workers’ Compensation insurance
carrier is not on your side. Their job is to resolve the claim in These issues and many others are ones that can be discussed
an efficient and as cost-effective manner as possible paying and should be discussed with an experienced Workers’
you less than the full value of the claim is more efficient and Compensation lawyer. Many Workers’ Compensation
cost effective. lawyers and firms, including the Pothitakis Law Firm,
P.C., will provide an initial consultation about your case
2. The amount they pay on a weekly basis as well as the
without charge.
amount they are willing to provide for in a settlement may be
wrong. Simply because they tell you that it is correct and that
is it is fair, does not make it so.

3. The fact that you had a pre-existing condition or prior


problem does not mean your entitlement to Workers’
Compensation benefits ends. I have many clients that have
been told that because they had a prior back injury that their
new back injury or new aggravation at work is not compen-
sable. This is not accurate.

4. Although the employer is allowed to make the initial choice


of your doctor, they cannot control the care in the future
without limits. In many situations, you are able to petition for
a different doctor if you are unhappy with the one they have
provided.

60 61
THE FIRM ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicholas Pothitakis

Nicholas Pothitakis was born June


Janet Schafer: Ann Kirk: 4, 1966, in Fort Madison, Iowa.
Paralegal Legal Assistant
He attended the University of Iowa
from 1984 through 1988, obtain-
ing a degree in Finance and a degree
in Economics with Honors and with
High Distinction.

Mr. Pothitakis enrolled in the fall of 1988 at one of the top law
schools in the country, the University of Texas School of Law in
Kayla Ferguson: Cindi Muff: Nicholas Pothitakis: Austin, Texas. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in the
Legal Assistant Paralegal Attorney at Law
summer of 1991. Since then Mr. Pothitakis has practiced primar-
ily in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and personal injury.
The Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., has offices in Burlington and
Keokuk, Iowa.

Mr. Pothitakis has been a board member of the Iowa Association


of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Inc., from 2005 to the pres-
ent. In 2011, he was elected to the position of treasurer of the orga-
Molly Balke: Suzanna Kirkham:
Paralegal Receptionist
nization. In 2013, he was elected to the position of Vice President

62 63
of the organization. In 2014, he was elected the President of the
organization.
RECOGNITIONS
Mr. Pothitakis was a member of the Board of Governors of the Iowa
Trial Lawyers Association from 2006 to 2007 and 2014 to 2015.
Mr. Pothitakis was a board member of the Workers’ Compensation
Section of the Iowa State Bar Association from 2000 through
2002. He was a member of the Workers’ Compensation Core
Mr. Pothitakis has been selected to the
Group of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Pothitakis has
2018, 2019, and 2020 Iowa Super Lawyers
been a long-standing member of the Iowa Association for Justice,
list. No more than 5% of the lawyers in
the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and the American
Iowa are selected by Super Lawyers. Super
Association for Justice.
Lawyers, a Thomas Reuters business, is a
rating service of outstanding lawyers from
Mr. Pothitakis was elected to be the President of the Des Moines
more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of
County Bar Association from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2013.
peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selec-
tions are made using a patented multi-phase process that includes
Mr. Pothitakis has been selected for inclusion in the 2016, 2019,
a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation
and 2020 Super Lawyers list and the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020
of candidates, and peer reviews by practice areas. The result is a
Best Lawyer list. He has also been admitted to the National Trial
credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of exceptional attor-
Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers list for the past three years.
neys. The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super
Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines
and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers magazines
also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excel-
lence in their practice of law.

64 65
Mr. Pothitakis was selected Mr. Pothitakis was recently given the
by his peers to the the Best highest rating of 10.0 out of 10.0 by
Lawyers of America list AVVO. AVVO is the largest expert
in the field of Workers’ only health and legal question and
Compensation Law. This answer resource and dictionary. The
selection was made for the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Since it mission of AVVO is to help people
was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally make the best decisions for their important medical and legal
regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Because Best needs. It offers resources to help consumers identify lawyers and
Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey, in which set forth a rating system based upon a number of factors relevant
more than 36,000 leading attorneys cast almost 4.4 million votes to assessing the lawyers qualifications.
on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas, and
because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be Mr. Pothitakis has an
listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. AV Peer Review rating
Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most for ethical standards
respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” and legal ability from
Martindale-Hubbell.
Mr. Pothitakis was admit- The Martindale-Hubbell
ted to the 2017, 2018, 2019, Peer Review ratings help buyers of legal services identify, evalu-
and 2020 The National ate, and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at
Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial hand. Lawyer ratings serve as an objective indicator that a lawyer
Lawyers in an invitationonly has the highest ethical standards and professional ability.
national organization composed of America’s Top Trial Lawyers.
Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qual- Mr. Pothitakis is also a member of Union
ified attorneys from each state who exemplify superior qualifica- Privilege Legal Services. Union Privilege
tions of leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as Legal Services was established by the
civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers. It is the mission of AFL-CIO to provide consumer benefits
The National Trial Lawyers to provide networking opportunities, to members and retirees of participating labor unions.
advocacy training, and the highest quality educational programs
for trial lawyers.

66 67
The Pothitakis Law Firm was named
to the 2020 edition of Best Law Firms
by US News and World Reports.

Firms included in the 2020 Edition


of U.S. News-Best Lawyers “Best Law
Firms” are recognized for profes-
sional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients
and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must first have a
NICHOLAS POTHITAKIS
ATTORNEY AT LAW
lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, which recog-
nizes the top 5% of private practicing lawyers in the United States.
Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of qual-
ity law practice and breadth of legal expertise. Mr. Pothitakis has 320 NORTH 3RD STREET

been named to The Best Lawyers in America every year since 2013. SUITE 100
BURLINGTON, IOWA 52601-0337
“Choosing the right law firm can be a vital decision,” said Tim
Smart, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report. “The 1-866-753-4692
rankings draw on U.S. News’ 35 years of experience evaluating
complex institutions to help individuals and companies alike 319-754-6400
make the best decisions.”
niko@pothitakislaw.com
“For the 2020 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation www.pothitakislaw.com
process has remained a rigorous and discerning as it did when www.iowawc.com
we first started then years ago.” says Phil Greer, CEO of Best
Lawyers. “This year we reviewed 14,931 law firms throughout
the United States.”

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