After an amputation injury, a workers’ compensation attorney may help you recover the loss of limb payment you deserve and need to move forward. An injury at work can cause a disturbance in your life. However, your employer’s workers’ compensation policy should provide you with much-needed medical coverage and partial wage replacement.
The loss of a limb can be a devastating and life-altering event. An amputation due to a workplace accident can have ramifications for your personal life. It can also negatively impact your career, ability to work, and finances.
Workers’ compensation is insurance for employees who suffer injuries at work, to compensate them for their losses. This includes loss of limbs. In 2018, there were 6,200 cases of work-related injuries leading to amputations and time away from work. If you have lost a limb at work, an amputation injury lawyer can help you to get loss of limb payment from workers’ comp.
Common Workplace Accidents That Cause Amputation-Injuries
Various accidents occurring in the workplace can result in loss of limb injuries. Some leading causes of work-related injuries resulting in amputations are:
Machinery or equipment. Amputations are most common with machinery or equipment with moving parts involving cutting, punching, bending, or shearing.
Inadequate training, safety gear or safeguards. Many amputations involving machinery happen by a worker operating unguarded machinery. Inadequate training also leaves a worker vulnerable in handling dangerous equipment. Proper training and safety gear can make a big difference in protecting workers from accidents.
Objects and hazards. Hazards such as vehicles, falling objects or operator error are often the cause of injuries in the workplace. These can include caught-in-between injuries, where a worker gets caught in moving machinery or pinned between a moving vehicle, such as a forklift, and a stationary object.
Other accidents include car accidents, falls from heights, inadequate personal protective equipment, and explosions.
Types of amputation injuries
Depending on the form and seriousness of the injury, amputations may be either complete or partial amputations.
A complete amputation involves a body part or limb being removed from the body entirely. A partial amputation occurs when the damaged limb remains, but a part of that limb is separated from the body.
Amputations can be categorized into further types, including traumatic or surgical amputations, and amputations of either the upper or lower limb. A traumatic amputation is when the body part gets separated due to a traumatic event and is part of the injury itself. A surgical amputation occurs in a controlled setting and is performed by a medical professional, usually due to infection, disease, or significant damage to the body part.
Amputation of the upper limb is where the fingers, wrist, hand, arm, or elbow are removed. The lower limb means the toes, feet, ankles, knees, or pelvis.
What Types of Loss of Limb Payments Can Workers Recover?
If you have suffered an amputation because of an injury while at work, you may be eligible for benefits from workers’ comp. Workers’ comp usually compensates someone who is injured on the job, regardless of who is at fault. In terms of Illinois law, you may have claims for the following loss of limb payments from workers’ comp:
Medical expenses include the past and future healthcare costs. It covers all expenses for treatments and ongoing care.
Workers’ compensation in Illinois pays out partial wage replacement benefits while you are off work recovering. You may also receive wage loss benefits if you are working in a limited capacity because of your occupational amputation that pays a reduced wage rate.
Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may not be able to return to your normal line of work. Workers’ compensation benefits in such circumstances may include vocational training to help you pursue a new occupation.
There are four different types of disability. These are:
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
Temporary partial disability is typically awarded when a worker is injured, temporarily preventing him or her from being able to perform some tasks. Injured employees awarded temporary partial disability usually return to work and are able to perform at a reduced level in his or her job.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability may be awarded in claims when a worker is unable to work at all. Such monetary awards are also approved for some who are off for extended periods of time while they recover from their injuries. Temporary total disability generally pays two-thirds of the injured worker’s gross weekly wage until healed.
Permanent Partial Disability
Permanent partial disability (PPD) typically relates to situations where a body part is amputated due to work-related injuries. In this category, workers are still able to return to work and earn wages, even if they’re not capable of performing the same type of work or holding the same positions that they did before the injury.
PPD is generally awarded in cases where a worker permanently loses the use of a body part. Worker’s comp usually gives a loss of limb payment calculated depending on the body part that is amputated.
In Illinois law, amputation of specific body parts is assigned benefits for a set time period. Each limb is assigned a maximum number of weeks for which a worker can claim a percentage of his or her wages. If the accident occurred on or after 1 February, he or she can claim a percentage of his or her wages for the following time periods:
Thumb – 76 weeks
Index finger – 43 weeks
Middle Finger – 38 weeks
Ring finger – 27 weeks
Fourth or little finger – 22 weeks
Hand – 205 weeks
Arm – 253 weeks
Leg – 215 weeks
Foot – 167 weeks
Eye – 162 weeks
Loss of hearing in one ear – 54 weeks
Total and permanent loss of hearing – 200 weeks
The percentage of claimable wages is determined by the percentage loss of use of the limb you have suffered. So, if you have lost 50% use of your middle finger, and your weekly wages are $700, the calculation would look like this:
Weekly wages × number of weeks assigned for the limb × percentage loss of use of the limb. Therefore, in this scenario, the calculation would look like this:
= $700 × 38 × 50%
Therefore, the compensation that you would receive in this scenario would be $13,300
Permanent Total Disability
Permanent total disability (PTD) is a situation where a worker is unable to work ever again because of his or her injuries. PTD is awarded when a worker is permanently and totally disabled under Illinois workers’ compensation laws.
PTD is given automatically if a worker loses both hands, both feet, both arms, or both legs. It is also given where there is a disability that disables a worker to the extent that he or she is unable to do work for which there is a reasonable prospect of employment.
The most disabling workplace injuries can lead to PTD. In such cases, a worker is awarded two-thirds of his or her wages, which is payable for the rest of his or her life. If the worker does return to work, these benefits may be altered or terminated.
Workers’ compensation is convenient since you can get benefits fairly quickly and do not need to file a lawsuit against your employer or prove fault. The trade-off, though, is that it does not compensate you for pain and suffering, and only pays a portion of the wages you lose. You are not able to get compensated for the full value of your losses.
A Chicago amputation lawyer can help you to assess your amputation to determine your loss of limb payment from workers’ comp.