Iowa Workers Compensation – Litigation Timeline

Uninsured Motorist General Facts
September 10, 2012
Iowa Workers Compensation – Collecting Judgments
October 19, 2012
Show all

Iowa Workers Compensation – Litigation Timeline

A common question I get asked in an Iowa Workers Compensation Case is: How long does a case take? The answer to this question is not as simple as you would think. The a issue of when to file a claim is a topic its self and depends and many different factors. For the purposes of this discussion, however, I will assume that a case has already been filed with the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. A case is filed when it is presented to the Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner with a filing fee and a confidential information form. Currently, the filing fee is $100.00.

After filing the case the claims proceed through the discovery process. This includes written questions that are exchanged between the injured worker and the employer/insurance carrier. The discovery process also entails depositions which is questioning given under oath.

Usually, after the case is filed, a Arbitration Hearing is set between 9 and 18 months from the filing. The Arbitration Hearing is essentially a trial. Both sides present their cases before a Deputy Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner. Presentation of a case includes offering live testimony, deposition testimony and medical records/reports. After trial the Deputy Commissioner will file a written decision. I have seen decisions filed as soon as a week after hearing, however, I have also seen decisions not be filed until a year after hearing. The Deputy Commissioners are few in numbers as compared to the amount of claims they preside over and do attempt to get the decisions filed as time allows. Typically, I usually expect a decision to be issued 45 to 90 days after trial.

After the Arbitration Decision is filed the losing party can file an appeal with the Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner. These are written appeals and normally take about 1 year to obtain a decision. After the Commissioner files the Appeal Decision, the result is that you now have a “final agency decision.” However, the appeal process does not end there. Further appeal can be filed through the judicial review process. Meaning, the losing party can file a Petition for Judicial Review before the Iowa District Court. This is an appeal to an Iowa District Court Judge. Normally, this appeal takes anywhere from 6 months to 12 months to be resolved.

After the Iowa District Court issues its Judicial Review Decision, the losing party can file an appeal with the Iowa Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court of Iowa. If the appeal is accepted by the Iowa Supreme Court then this is the last appeal stage for all practical purposes. If the appeal after judicial review is taken by the Court of Appeals, then, after the Court of Appeals issues its decision, the losing party can ask the Iowa Supreme Court for further review. In all, appeal from the Iowa District Court’s Judicial Review Decision until final ruling by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

The timeline set forth above seems long, and it is, however, most cases that end up going to trial do not end up going all the way through the appellate process.

Ryan Beattie, Beattie Law Firm