Employees who have suffered traumatic amputations in work-related accidents have many questions concerning the benefits to which they are entitled under the law. Workers’ Compensation statutes were passed in all states requiring employers to provide certain wage and medical benefits for individuals who are injured in work-related accidents. I have answered below the most commonly asked questions concerning workers’ compensation benefits:
If I am injured on the job and receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, am I eligible for Private Funding?
Yes, Private Funding for Prosthetic Devices, supports, and services can pay for costs associated with your traumatic amputation such as: ramps and home modifications, purchase of vans and vehicle modifications, rental/mortgage assistance, assistance with utility/household expenses and other items not paid by your workers’ compensation insurance.
What does a Workers’ Compensation insurance company have to pay for?
Workers’ compensation insurance companies must pay all your medical bills for treatments related to your workers’ compensation injury for the rest of your life. Also, the insurance company must pay a percentage of your wage loss for as long as you are disabled.
Does the amount a person receives for Workers’ Compensation wage loss increase each year?
No, unlike Social Security Disability and some private pension benefits, workers’ compensation wage disability benefits for brain and spinal cord injuries do not increase each year. The amount of wage benefits to which you are entitled is determined as of the day you are injured and remain that way for as long as you are disabled.
Does Workers’ Compensation pay for pain and suffering damages?
No, workers’ compensation insurance companies only pay reasonable and necessary medical expenses and a percentage of your wage loss. You need to contact an amputee injury attorney if you want to file a lawsuit for compensation for pain and suffering damages related to your traumatic limb loss, upper extremity limb, lower extremity limb loss, bilateral amputations, etc.
Does Workers’ Compensation pay if I have suffered an amputation, or partial amputation, or loss of use of a specific body part while at work?
Yes, Specific Loss Benefits (SLB) are paid when an employee suffers an amputation, partial amputation, or the complete loss of use of a body part while at work. The amount of the amount of the specific loss benefits varies from state to state.
Depending on the state, an employee may be entitled to Specific Loss Benefits if they have an injury to any of the following body parts:
- Eye (vision loss)
- Ear (hearing loss)
In some states, the amputation of body parts may include:
Permanent injury to a body part may include fractures, burns, crush injuries, and severe nerve damage.
If I have been injured in a work-related accident and suffered a traumatic amputation, who can I sue for past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss earning capacity, lost wages, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.?
Since you are not permitted under the law to sue your co-employees, or employer, in most states, if you are injured in a work-related accident, the only party you can sue for pain and suffering and other damages is a negligent contractor, subcontractor, manufacturer of a defective product, or other third party who is responsible for your traumatic amputation.
Example: A gas tank that you are cleaning at work explodes, and you suffer a traumatic amputation because it has a defective valve which was manufactured by company “X”. You would receive your workers’ compensation benefits, i.e. payment of your medical bills and a percentage of wages from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. You would have to hire an amputation injury lawyer to file a lawsuit for compensation against company “X,” the manufacturer of the defective valve if you are seeking amputee compensation for pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss earning capacity, loss wages, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Note: It is important for you, the workers’ compensation carrier, and the amputation injury lawyer to secure and preserve the defective valve so there can be a thorough investigation to pursue a lawsuit against company “X,” the manufacturer of the defective valve. The defective valve should not be altered, concealed, destroyed, changed, taken apart or modified in any way before the inspection.
How can I prove my work-related injury was caused by someone other than my employer?
It is crucial that there be a prompt and thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your work-related traumatic amputation or partial amputation injury. This investigation should be accomplished by trained attorneys, investigators, experts and engineers whose job it is to determine exactly what caused your accident. Photographs, witness statements, and evidence must be secured as quickly as possible after a serious work-related injury occurs.
If I can prove that my traumatic amputation injury was caused by someone other than my employer or co-employees, what can I claim for damages?
Unlike a workers’ compensation case where you can only recover a percentage of your wage loss and your medical bills, in a lawsuit for loss of limbs compensation, you can recover lost wages not reimbursed by workers’ compensation, damages for scarring, disfigurement, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, loss of companionship, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.
If I am receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, can I also receive Social Security Disability?
Yes, you can collect both, but Social Security Disability will receive some credit for the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you are collecting. If you are injured and are unable to be gainfully employed for a year, you should apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.
SUCCESSFULLY LITIGATED TRAUMATIC AMPUTATION WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASES
Workplace/Electrocution Accident – Upper Extremity Amputation – Defective Ladder
An employee suffered an upper extremity traumatic limb loss as the result of a fall
that occurred while he was working on a ladder at a construction site. My investigation revealed that the ladder was defectively designed and when it collapsed it caused the employee to strike an electrical power line and was electrocuted and suffered bilateral upper extremity loss. The employee received his workers’ compensation benefits which paid for his medical care and a percentage of his wage loss. I also filed a successful lawsuit for compensation against the manufacturer of the ladder based on the theory that the ladder was defectively designed. All electrocution accidents and construction accidents involving traumatic amputations should be thoroughly investigated to determine whether or not there is a negligent contractor, sub-contractor, or defective product since all employees have the right to bring a lawsuit for compensation against a responsible party in addition to the benefits they receive from the workers’ compensation carrier.
Workplace Accident – Tractor Trailer – Lower Extremity Limb Loss.
An employee was making a delivery using the company vehicle. The employee was struck by a tractor-trailer. The driver of the tractor-trailer was intoxicated and went through a red light. The employee suffered extensive injuries, including lower extremity amputations. A lawsuit for compensation was successfully filed against the tractor-trailer company since their driver was negligent and caused my client’s traumatic limb loss.
SUGGESTION: All tractor-trailer and automobile accidents should be thoroughly investigated to determine whether or not there is a negligent party other than the employer or co-employee against whom a claim for compensation can be filed.
Work Place Accident – Ice Cream Machine – Traumatic Arm Injury
An employee was working at an ice cream store when she suffered traumatic arm injuries when the shirt she was wearing was pulled into the ice cream machine. A lawsuit for compensation was successfully filed against the manufacturer of the ice cream machine since it was defectively designed. The employee was able to recover benefits from workers’ compensation as well as filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective product.
SUGGESTION: It is important that you hire an amputee injury attorney to secure and preserve the defective product, i.e. the ice cream machine so that there can be a thorough investigation to pursue a lawsuit against the company that manufactured the defective product. The defective product should not be altered, concealed, destroyed, changed, taken apart, or modified in any way before the inspection.