Iowa and COVID-19
March 30, 2020
On behalf of our entire team, we hope that you are doing as well as possible during this complicated time. We have prepared the following update for your reference as it pertains to Iowa court operations, and potential claims related to COVID-19.
- Are the Courts Open?
Yes. Judges may hold proceedings by telephone or videoconference until May 4, 2020, or continue matters to a later date.
All Workers’ Compensation proceedings will be held by CourtCall (videoconference) until June 16, 2020, unless continued. All continued matters will occur between June 22, 2020 and December 18, 2020, and will occur in the Des Moines office of the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
- Have state or local authorities issued any executive Orders?
The Governor has signed several executive orders related to: (1) relaxing weight limitations and driver hours for those hauling food supplies or essential equipment; (2) waiving unemployment requirements for employees; (3) waiving unemployment responsibilities for employers; and (4) extending income tax deadlines until July 15, 2020.
- What is the potential for workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 exposure?
COVID-19 exposure may be compensable as an occupational disease. Iowa Code §85A.8 defines “occupational disease” as diseases arising out of and in the course of employment which have a direct causal connection with the employment and follow as a natural incident from exposure occasioned by the employment.
An employee’s COVID-19 infection is compensable only if the employee can show that the disease was incidental to the character of their occupation. Most employees will not be able to meet this standard. Healthcare workers treating infected patients will likely be able to prove that their infection was related to their occupation. The distinction becomes more difficult for retail workers, warehouse employees, delivery drivers, and grocery store clerks.
- What effect might employer lay-off’s have on current claims?
We believe employers who may not have light duty work available due to the economic effects of COVID-19 will be responsible for TTD/TPD benefits. Similarly, delayed medical treatment due to COVID-19 should not result in limited or suspended benefits.
Our team is fully operational and we are here to provide you with any support, advice, and/or service that may be helpful during this complicated time. This situation is rapidly changing, so please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our team members if you have any questions, comments or concerns, and we will be sure to provide you with a prompt response.
Please stay safe and healthy.