Workers’ Compensation and Amputations

Workers’ Compensation and AmputationsLosing an arm or a leg is life changing. Many workers who suffer an amputation cannot return to their old job. Amputees usually need surgery and long-term care. Call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford today to speak with a strong experienced Delaware workers’ compensation lawyer.

Amputations can involve the loss of an arm, leg, finger, toe, foot, or hand. Treatment for an amputation, according to Johns Hopkins University, after the initial surgery to save as much as the body part as possible, usually involves physical therapy and psychological therapy. For many victims, psychological care is just as critical as physical care. The aim of rehabilitation is to help the employee regain as much independence and function as possible.

Treatments for an amputation involve:

  • Helping to heal the wound and provide stump care
  • Improving the functional abilities of the worker including the ability to resume daily activities and improve motor skill
  • Exercises for muscle strength, control, and endurance
  • Fitting and use of prostheses (artificial limbs)
  • Pain management – for postoperative pain and phantom pain
  • Emotional help for the worker’s body image and self-esteem
  • Use of assistive devices
  • Nutritional advice
  • Vocational counseling
  • Making the home functional and accessible

Amputees usually work with many different doctors and health care providers including:

  • Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons
  • Physiatrists
  • Internists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Vocational counselors
  • Prosthetists
  • Orthotists
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists/psychiatrists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Case managers

Many amputees need to have their prosthetic refitted. Newer prosthetics often have more technical features. The ability to function with a prosthetic often depends on the location of the amputation. For example, a prosthetic is more likely to work for a leg amputation if the amputation occurs below the knee.

What types of accidents cause amputations?

An amputation can happen for many reasons. A few common reasons include:

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Machinery or equipment accidents
  • Falls from high heights
  • Lack of proper training
  • Lack of employee safeguards

According to Amputation Coalition, nearly 1 in 20,000 workers suffers an amputation due to work. The industries that cause the most amputations are:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Agriculture

According to OSHA, Some of the machines that are known to cause amputations include:

  • Drill presses
  • Meat grinders
  • Printing presses
  • Power press brakes
  • Conveyors
  • Food slicers
  • Band saws
  • Milling machines
  • Shears

Other machinery/equipment that can cause an amputation includes trash-compactors, forklifts, and various hand tools.

Workers’ compensation pay and amputations

During the time the employee is working to get healthy and adjust to the amputation, a Delaware worker is entitled to 2/3 of his/her average weekly wages. Once the worker reaches maximum medical improvement, the worker is entitled to permanent disability benefits (2/3 of his/her average weekly wages) for a specific length of time depending on the type of amputation – according to the Delaware Workers’ Compensation Code. For example:

  • For the loss of a hand, 66 and 2/3 percent of wages during 220 weeks
  • For the loss of an arm, 66 and 2/3 percent of wages during 250 weeks
  • For the loss of a foot, 66 and 2/3 percent of wages during 160 weeks
  • For the loss of a leg, 66 and 2/3 percent of wages during 250 weeks

At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, we understand just how devastating losing a limb or an appendage is. Your whole life is turned upside-down. You need the best medical care available to maximize your ability to work and enjoy life. Employees who suffer an amputation need long-term physical therapy and occupational therapy. Our seasoned workers’ compensation lawyers work with your physicians, and independent doctors when necessary, to help you get the medical care you need. We fight to ensure your disability is properly categorized. To speak with a strong caring work injury lawyer, please call us at 302.314.2319 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment in our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford.