Amputation & Workers’ Compensation

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Losing a limb to an amputation injury at work is one of the most traumatic events a person can experience. Between long-term medical care, lifestyle changes, and the financial costs associated with amputation injuries, many workers struggle to recover mentally and physically after losing a limb. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation system acknowledges these hardships and provides benefits to workers who suffered an amputation due to their hazardous workplace. 

At Schaffer & Associates, our team of seasoned attorneys is passionate about fighting for the rights of injured workers. We understand how tough the journey to recovery can be and we account for the unique stories of our clients to tailor a legal strategy that works. Through our approach, we have successfully secured benefits for countless injured workers across Ohio. To file a claim for workers’ compensation for an amputation injury, do not hesitate to contact us at (419) 350-8277 today. 

What Types of Jobs Can Cause an Amputation Injury?

Amputations are among the most severe and debilitating workplace injuries. Often occurring when workers operate machinery that is not equipped with the proper safety measures, these injuries can permanently impact a person’s work and livelihood for the remainder of their lives. Unfortunately, individuals in certain types of jobs face a greater danger of amputation injury than other workers. 

By far, manufacturing, industrial, and agricultural jobs put workers at the highest risk for an amputation injury. Operators, fabricators, and laborers account for more non-fatal amputations than all other occupations combined. Indeed, any job that involves the use of heavy machinery or power tools is considered high risk for an amputation injury, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Causes of Workplace Amputation Injuries

Amputation injuries in the workplace most often occur due to hazardous work environments or unsafe labor practices. Employers who exercise due diligence and implement safety precautions are typically able to avoid amputation injuries. It is when proper safety protocols are neglected that accidents happen. Five of the most common causes of workplace amputation injuries include: 

  • Moving machines, such as forklifts, conveyors, grinders, food slicers, or compactors, among others. 
  • Failure to adhere to proper safety protocols. Poor maintenance of machines is a common reason for workplace amputation injuries, as a lack of necessary safeguards can create a hazardous work environment. 
  • Misuse of tools, the use of defective power tools, or the lack of proper safety gear when using power tools. 
  • Slips, trips, and falls, which can cause a worker’s limbs to be trapped and/or crushed during the fall.
  • Insufficient training that results in improper use of machines, thus increasing the risk of amputation injury. 

What Are Common Amputation Injuries at Work?

The vast majority of amputation injuries happen when a worker’s limb becomes caught in, under, or between objects. As such, injuries involving the fingers, hands, wrists, and toes are common. More infrequently, workers may lose eyes, arms, or legs in an amputation injury at work

In some situations, amputation injuries that occur due to a workplace accident can happen immediately, known as a complete amputation. In other cases, part of the limb may be recovered in surgery after the fact, resulting in a partial amputation. Regardless of the type of amputation injury you sustained, it is important to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive medical benefits and income compensation. 

What Should You Do If You Suffer Limb Loss Due to a Job Injury?

If you suffer limb loss due to a job injury, it is essential that you understand your rights and the legal options available to you. Losing a limb is a life-altering event that has serious physical and financial consequences, underscoring the importance of taking action to offset the financial burden of these injuries. Immediately after you suffer limb loss, your first priority should be for your health and safety. Seek medical attention for your injuries immediately. Ensure that you inform your medical provider of how the injury occurred and the symptoms you are experiencing and keep records of all actions taken to assess and treat your injury.

Following an accident, Ohio law provides workers with one year to report their injury (Section 4123.84 of the Ohio Revised Code). Many employers require workers to report their injury immediately, however. Reporting your injury as soon as possible following a workplace accident is critical to ensuring that you remain eligible for workers’ compensation. You or your attorney can file a report of injury to begin the workers’ compensation claims process. 

Why Is It Important to Keep Records Related to My Amputation Injury?

It is critically important to keep records related to your amputation injury, as the documentation you keep will be useful to your workers’ compensation claim down the line. Some examples of relevant and useful evidence may include: 

  • Medical records detailing the treatment you received on the day of the accident as well as any rehabilitative or surgical care you received after the fact. 
  • Your injury report, which should be as detailed as possible. Not only is this report necessary to your claim but is important to show that you followed the proper protocol after the accident. 
  • Witness testimonies from any other individuals who saw the accident or the dangerous conditions that contributed to the accident. 
  • Photographs of the scene of the accident to document the conditions of your workplace at the time of the injury. 

The type of records you keep related to your accident can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim for workers’ compensation for amputation injury. At Schaffer & Associates, we use all evidence possible to strengthen and support our clients’ claims.

What Are the Possible Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Amputation?

Workers who have lost a limb due to a workplace accident are often entitled to unique workers’ compensation benefits. The medical needs of an amputation injury are different from other injuries, and many workers who lose a digit or limb require additional benefits to adequately address these needs. Workers’ compensation for amputation injuries may include: 

  • Wage replacement. Workers who sustain an amputation injury are usually forced to take time off work during the healing process. Workers’ compensation will provide two-thirds of their pre-injury wages until the individual is able to return to work. If the worker has reached the point of maximum medical improvement, and no further treatment will improve their condition, an assessment for disability benefits may be conducted. If an individual is considered to have a permanent total disability, meaning they can never return to work, they may be eligible for lifetime disability benefits.
  • Medical benefits. Individuals who experience an amputation injury at work are entitled to medical benefits, including the cost of surgery, ongoing treatment expenses, and rehabilitative care. Similarly, workers who undergo an amputation often require physical therapy or occupational therapy before they can return to their work, which is covered by workers’ compensation benefits.  
  • Cost of a prosthetic device. Workers’ compensation may also cover the cost of a prosthetic device, which can reach several thousand dollars. 
  • Mental health services. It is not uncommon for amputees to suffer negative mental health effects following an amputation injury. Costs related to therapy and psychiatric services can be compensated if diagnoses such a depression, anxiety, or PTSD are allowed in the claim.

What Is Loss of Use?

When you lose the use of a specific body part, this is referred to as a “scheduled loss” under the workers’ compensation system. Scheduled losses often occur when a worker undergoes an amputation or loses the ability to use a specific body party. Ankylosis, which is the stiffening or rigidity of a joint due to the fusion of bone, is also included in the scheduled loss scheme.

The compensation for different scheduled loss injuries is outlined in R.C. § 4123.57. Under the law, the duration of workers’ compensation for amputation injuries depends on which limb was lost in the accident: 

  • Finger: between 15 weeks and 60 weeks, depending on the digit. 
  • Hand: 175 weeks.
  • Arm: 275 weeks.
  • Toe: between 10 and 30 weeks, depending on the digit.
  • Foot: 150 weeks.
  • Leg: 200 weeks.

The maximum amount of scheduled loss benefits that can be awarded to a worker is determined by a statutory schedule that adjusts for cost of living. The nature of your injury and the date of the accident are taken into account when determining your award. As of 2023, the maximum weekly rate of a scheduled loss award is $1,149. 

Overall, the type of benefits and the amount of compensation you will receive depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Your attorney can provide more information on the possible workers’ compensation benefits that may be available for your amputation injury at work.

Hiring an Attorney Near You to Help with Amputation Injury on the Job

Undergoing an amputation can be a life-altering event, impacting your physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. If you or a loved one has lost a limb due to an amputation injury at work, our team of experienced and compassionate attorneys are here to help. 

We take pride in our ability to help you navigate the complex process of claiming workers’ compensation for amputation injuries. By leveraging our decades of experience, we offer unwavering support and strategic counsel to injured workers during the most difficult moments of their lives. To speak with our team about your claim, consider contacting Schaffer & Associates at (419) 350-8277 today.