Workers Compensation Lawyer Discusses Compensation for Amputations

On Thursday, May 26, a technician suffered a severed arm when an elevator unexpectedly shifted in an office building in New York City’s financial district in lower Manhattan.

According to the NYPD the accident occurred in a 37-story building at 50 Broadway at approximately 10:30 a.m. on May 26. It was not immediately known why the elevator required service, although it was installed only a short time ago. In fact, an 18-year-old student enrolled in a program on the eighth floor of the building told the New York Post that the elevator arrived only about one month before the accident. A company specializing in elevator maintenance and repair reportedly sent the man to the site to service the equipment.

When the elevator slipped and severed his arm at the elbow, firefighters responded. After dispatchers received calls for help, arriving firefighters reportedly rushed into the building with bags of ice, presumably in an attempt to preserve the severed arm for possible surgical re-attachment. Emergency personnel took the injured worker to Bellevue Hospital where the medical staff classified his condition as serious. At approximately 11:15 a.m., about 45 minutes after the amputation occurred, EMTs entered the hospital with a black garbage can, presumably with the severed arm covered by ice.

Although it is not known if the re-attachment of the severed portion of the worker’s arm was successful, the story does focus attention on worker’s compensation law as it pertains to amputations.

Varied Payments for Amputations

What many workers and family members do not realize is that compensation for amputation injuries varies a great deal from state-to-state. An NPR investigation highlighted the significant disparity in workers compensation payments for such injuries.

The article focused on two men in their 20s who sustained amputations. The men lived less than 75 miles apart and suffered injuries in similar industrial plants. However, the Alabama resident ultimately received $45,000 in workers compensation while the Georgia resident could potentially receive $740,000 over the course of his lifetime.

Amputation in Minnesota

According to the article, the national average for compensation for loss of an arm is $169,878 nationally and $114,000 in Minnesota.

Under Minnesota worker’s compensation law, permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are payable “for the permanent functional loss of use of the body based upon a disability schedule.” In determining permanent partial disability, the percent of loss is based upon a system where the maximum rating is given for the amputation of that body part.

While some states pay for arm or leg amputations based upon a schedule focused on each body part, this is not the case in Minnesota. Since 1984, the focus in Minnesota is on the whole body and any permanent loss of use of the body as a whole. Therefore, Minnesota PPD ratings are based on the percent of disability to the body.

Potentially Complex Calculations

Determining compensation for amputations is often complicated. As is stated on the website of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, “determining the proper permanent partial disability rating and payment amount for a claim can be complicated.”

Therefore, when an amputation results from a workplace injury, a workers compensation lawyer focused on relevant aspects of Minnesota worker’s compensation law may be of assistance. In some cases, it is possible to maximize compensation by claiming negligence under Minnesota personal injury statutes as well.

If you or a family member is a victim of a workplace injury leading to amputation or other permanent partial disability, it is possible to review the details of your case with a workers compensation attorney. Our firm does not charge for this consultation, and we fight hard to preserve the full rights of the workers we represent. To learn more, please contact us.