Case name: Estate of Brehm v. Dubuque Community School District, No. 2-473/12-0176 (Iowa Ct. App. 10/03/12).
Ruling: The Iowa Court of Appeals held that a worker's estate could not sue an employer for the amount of lost wages from the worker's second job.
What it means: In Iowa, workers' compensation provides an adequate remedy for a worker's death even though it does not compensate a widow for lost wages from a worker's second job.
Summary: A worker for a school district also worked for an electric company. He worked full time for both employers and earned $60,000 per year. The worker was working for the school district when he was struck and run over by a school-owned vehicle operated by another school district employee. The worker died at the scene. The school district's insurer began paying death benefits to the worker's widow in the amount of $29,137 per year. The worker's estate sought to sue the school district for damages not covered under workers' compensation, arguing that workers' compensation did not provide adequate redress for the worker's death. The Iowa Court of Appeals granted summary judgment to the school district, finding that the estate's claims fell within the exclusive remedy of workers' compensation.
Because the workers' compensation scheme could not consider the worker's earnings from his job with the electric company, the estate argued that workers' compensation did not provide an adequate remedy. The workers' compensation scheme applied to the worker's claim for lost wages even though it covered only a portion of his lost wages. The court found that the fact that the widow would not be compensated for 100 percent of the worker's lost wages did not mean that workers' compensation provided an inadequate remedy. The court pointed out that the legislature chose to not make an employer liable for income lost in other employment. The estate's claims fell exclusively within the rights and remedies provided by workers' compensation.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
December 10, 2012
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