Every year thousands of Iowans are hurt at work and many of these injuries involve loss of limb (arm, hand, leg, foot or eye) or worse. When we talk about loss of limb in a workers compensation setting, there are two different types:
1. Loss of limb meaning you sustain an injury in which you lose part or all of your limb in a traumatic amputation;
2. Loss of limb meaning that you sustain an injury that causes some percentage of permanent disability in the form of functional impairment rating to your limb.
Sometimes a loss of limb case is called a scheduled member injury. Under Iowa's work comp systems there are several categories of loss of limb:
Up to 250 weeks of benefits if your entire arm is amputated, but if you sustain a 10% functional impairment rating to your arm this would equal 25 weeks of PPD (permanent partial disability) benefits (250 X 10% = 25 weeks).
Up to 190 weeks if you lose your entire hand, but if your function impairment rating says 20% of your hand then you would receive 38 weeks of PPD benefits (190 X 20 = 38 weeks).
220 weeks, e.g. a 15% leg impairment rating equals 33 weeks of benefits.
150 weeks, e.g. a 30% foot impairment rating equals 45 weeks of benefits.
There are also categories for your fingers and below is the number of weeks that they represent if it is entirely gone:
Thumb-60 weeks, 1st Finger- 35 weeks, 2nd Finger- 30 weeks, 3rd Finger- 25 weeks, 4th Finger- 20 weeks. For example, a 40% impairment rating to the 1st finger would equal 14 weeks of benefits. Please note that injuries to fingers may not count as an injury to a hand for 2nd injury fund or other purposes.
So if you have sustained a loss of limb work injury, is it pretty much cut and dry how much you should receive?
No, in many cases there are other benefits that you may be owed that the insurance company is not required by law to help you with or even tell you about. In fact, they may push for you to sign a compromise settlement in a loss of limb case which will prevent you later on from filing a second injury fund case, claims for additional injuries, etc.
Before you even consider "settling" a loss of limb work injury case you should talk to a qualified Iowa workers' compensation attorney who should ask you questions like:
1. Have you ever sustained an injury to a different arm, leg, hand, foot, or eye? The prior injury does not have to be something that happened at work. It could have been something you were born with, a prior sports injury like a torn meniscus, carpel tunnel for some unknown reason, etc. If you speak with an attorney and they don't ask you about this you should be very concerned because Iowa has what is called the Second Injury Fund which can provide you with additional compensation.
2. Are you having any mental health issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc? If you have mental problems following a loss of limb injury then you may be entitled to significantly more compensation than what the insurance company wants to pay you. Keep in mind that if you sign settlement documents you are likely eliminating any claims that you may have for a mental injury.
3. Have you been diagnosed with CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome)? This is a terrible condition that causes severe pain and loss of function. If you have CRPS then you likely should receive much more than what the insurance company proposes to pay you to settle your case.
4. Have you sustained other injuries? For example, are you having problems with your back or hip following a leg injury that causes you to walk differently now what is called an altered gait or limp. Are you having pain and problems with your neck or back following an arm or shoulder injury?
5. Have you sustained injuries to three or more limbs such as your left arm, right arm, and one of your legs? If you have sustained three scheduled member injuries, then you are likely entitled to industrial disability in addition to what the insurance company voluntarily pays you?
6. Have you sustained bilateral injuries which means to both hands, arms, legs, or eyes then there may be additional compensation available to you.
These questions and more will determine if you only have a loss of limb case (scheduled member) or if you are in fact entitled to additional compensation.
If you or a loved one has sustained a loss of limb injury then feel free to give us a call. We will answer your questions and give you our advice at no cost or risk to you. If you decide that you want our help, then we do not take any fee on what you are currently receiving, but rather are only paid if we are able to get you more than what the workers' compensation insurance company voluntarily pays you. Your worst-case scenario is we get you nothing more and you owe us nothing more. However, you may be entitled to significant additional compensation and you will never know unless you call now at (641) 792-3595.
If you are not ready to speak with an attorney but would like more information about the Iowa work comp. system, including the 7 Costly Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them, Injured Workers Bill of Rights, and much more just click here to request our Iowa Work Comp book which is the Ultimate Survival Guide to Iowa work injuries. We offer the book at no risk or cost to you because we have seen too many Iowans try to settle cases on their own without knowing their rights and responsibilities. Once an injured worker signs paperwork and "settles" their case it is likely nothing we can do help them even though they may have thrown away tens of thousands of dollars in an uninformed settlement, failed to include social security offset language resulting in their social security benefits being reduced, etc.