Applying For Workers’ Comp
Virtually all New York employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. For amputations and lost limbs, these benefits cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and a schedule loss of use award depending on the affected body part. These benefits may be classified under either partial permanent disability or total permanent disability.
If you’ve lost a body part in a workplace accident, you should file an injury report with your employer and file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Board after you’ve received medical treatment.
About Schedule Loss Of Use Awards
Schedule Loss of Use awards are additional cash payments which are determined based on which body part was damaged and how much it was damaged. These awards are paid out after you’ve reached “maximum medical improvement”, where your condition cannot improve anymore. Your doctor will assign a percentage to represent how much function you’ve lost – for a full amputation, this would often be 100%. This percentage is then multiplied by the maximum number of weeks payable to determine how long you can receive cash benefits.
For example, the maximum weeks payable for an arm injury is 312 weeks. If you had your arm amputated, you would likely qualify for this maximum. But if you only lost 25% of the use of your arm, you’d qualify for 25% x 312, which comes out to 78 weeks.
Social Security Disability
If your amputation permanently prevents you from completing your job duties, you may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. When filing for SSD, it’s important to consult with the official Social Security Blue Book. This blue book lists types of injuries and symptoms which qualify for SSD. For amputations, these criteria include:
- The loss of both hands, OR
- One or both legs have been amputated at or above the ankle, and this amputation prevents the use of a prosthetic device, OR
- The loss of one hand or one leg above the ankle which prevents the use of a prosthetic device, OR
- The loss of an entire leg at the hip or pelvic region.
While meeting one of these criteria automatically qualifies you for SSD, you may still recover these benefits even if your injury isn’t listed in the Blue Book. You would likely need to have your doctor fill out a form which details how your disability has prevented you from working. These claims can be complicated, but our experienced work injury lawyers can help you apply for both workers’ compensation an Social Security disability benefits.
When Is A Lawsuit An Option?
If you lost a body part in a workplace accident caused by a negligent third party (someone other than your employer or co-workers), you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
For example, let’s say you were working on a construction site and an independent contractor caused an accident by improperly operating a crane, which caused you to suffer a crushing injury to your arm which required amputation. Since you and that independent contractor don’t share the same employer, you could possibly sue him or her for additional damages outside of workers’ compensation.
Another example would be a defective power tool which malfunctioned and sliced off a finger or your hand. In this case, you could have a case for a lawsuit against the manufacturer of that defective tool.
Occupations At A Higher Risk For Work-Related Amputations
Workplace amputations are more likely to occur in certain workplaces and industries. A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the following industries made up the majority of reports for work-related amputations:
- Manufacturing accounted for 57% of amputations
- Construction accounted for 10% of amputations
- Wholesale trade and retail trade each accounted for 5%
- Administrative, support, waste management, and remediation services accounted for 4%
- Transportation and warehousing made up 4% of claims
- Oil and gas extraction accounted for another 4%
In 2015, there were 2,644 amputation reports throughout all industries. While rarer than other accidents, this number is still far too high. Virtually all workplace amputations could be prevented if the proper safety measures are in place.
Will I Need A Lawyer?
In order to recover the full compensation you’re entitled to, it’s usually necessary to have the assistance of an experienced work injury lawyer. Attempting to get through the claims process on your own can be frustrating, as your employer’s insurance carrier may attempt to limit your benefits. The right lawyer can help you through each stage of the process and deal with difficult insurance companies on your behalf.
Some injured workers may receive their workers’ compensation, but be unaware that they could have recovered additional compensation through Social Security or a personal injury lawsuit. A knowledgeable work injury lawyer can review each detail of your case and help you recover every cent that you’re entitled to. For expensive injuries like amputations, this additional compensation is often necessary.
At Banville Law, we’re prepared to evaluate your claim in a free consultation and help you to get the maximum compensation you need and deserve.
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