Work-Related Amputation Injuries
Unfortunately, work-related amputation injuries are common. Sometimes amputations because of the severity of the accident itself and sometimes work-related injury amputations happen because of complications from an accident and injury. Whatever the case, it is important for injured workers to understand some details about amputations from a medical perspective and from a legal perspective. Below, we have provided a brief overview of amputation injuries and a summary of the types of compensation that an injured worker with amputation may be entitled to in a workers compensation case.
What is an amputation injury?
An amputation happens when a doctor intentionally removes all or part of a limb. An arm, leg, foot, hand, toe or finger can be amputated. Leg amputations are the most common type of amputation. A recent statistic revealed that nearly 1.8 million Americans are living with amputations. While many medical conditions can result in the need for an amputation, severe injuries from work-related or auto accidents are one of the most common reasons.
Medical Treatment for an Amputation
Web MD states that treatment for an amputation is usually accompanied by a hospital stay of five to 14 days, depending on the amputation and potential complications. Some type of anesthesia will be given to the injured person and the doctor will test the injured person's pulse, skin temperature and/or other factors to decide exactly what to amputate.
Rehabilitation for an Amputation
Post surgery recovery and rehabilitation depend upon the location of the amputation and the type of procedure. In the beginning, it is important to take good care of the wound created from the amputation itself and to manage pain with prescription medications. Sometimes, a person with an amputation will suffer from significant emotional distress from the procedure and counseling is recommended.
Typically, the injured person's doctor will prescribe physical therapy as soon as possible after surgery. Many times, artificial limbs are available and may be offered within a couple weeks of the surgery. If everything goes well, the wound created from the amputation will heal in about 4-8 weeks. The physical, not to mention emotional recover, can take much longer.
Ongoing rehabilitation may consist of:
- Muscle strengthening
- Encouragement to be as active as possible
- Artificial limbs.
- Mental and emotional support
Workers Compensation Benefits available for Amputation injuries
If you demonstrate a “compensable” accident and injury, medical benefits are awarded including:
- Mileage reimbursement for travel related to your medical treatment
- When medically necessary, treating physician and specialists will be covered
- Medical treatment related to the accident and injury including but not necessarily limited to:
- Offices visits with your doctor
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Diagnostic tests
Two types of wage loss benefits are available, temporary total and temporary partial benefits. If your doctor says you cannot work at all because of your work-related amputation, you may be entitled to weekly wage loss compensation equaling 66 2/3% of your pre-injury average weekly wage for the 52 weeks prior to your injury. If your doctor states you can return to work with restrictions or limitations, you may be able to receive Temporary Partial Disability Benefits. Temporary partial benefits are the difference between what you made before your accident and what you make after your accident on a weekly basis. That difference is multiplied by 66 ⅔ to come up with the temporary partial disability rate.
Eventually, you will reach maximum medical improvement. Basically, that means that you are not expected to improve in any significant way from your injury. When that happens, you doctor may have you evaluated to determine if you have permanent loss of use to the injured body part. You may be entitled to “permanency” benefits based on the evaluation. See our article here for a longer explanation of permanency benefits or the law itself here.
In the case of an amputation, an amputation chart, completed by your treating physician noting the exact location of the amputation is necessary.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
Some people have multiple amputations and, as a result, are permanently and totally disabled. In that case, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
Amputation cases can be complex. Our firm has handled hundreds, if not thousands, of workers compensation claims over the years and many amputation claims. We offer free claim evaluation. If you need legal assistance or even just some guidance, please do not hesitate to contact our office.