People who work around heavy machinery in certain industries – like printing presses, conveyors, food presses, milling machines, food slicers, meat grinders, and other similar hazardous machines – are at high risk of workplace amputations. Those machines do not present the only workplace risk of amputations, either. Construction work is among the most dangerous jobs in the country, and it, too, carries the risk of on-the-job amputations. Federal government reports have referred to workplace amputations as “widespread.” They can occur not just during machinery operation, but also during set-up, cleaning, lubricating, adjusting, clearing jams, and maintenance.
While not all amputations are created equal – losing a joint on your pinkie finger is an amputation, just as is losing an arm or a leg – all amputations are traumatic injuries. Many amputations are life-altering. The federal government reports about two dozen fatal amputations and thousands of non-fatal workplace amputations every year. Federal statistics cite defective machinery and worker negligence as some of the main causes of workplace amputation injuries. Further, poorly or improperly maintained machinery, or even improperly manufactured machinery, can result in serious injuries to employees, including amputations. Inadequate training or supervision also increase the likelihood of severe accidental injuries. All of these elements – poor maintenance, insufficient training, and improper manufacturing of equipment, can factor into the amount an employee suffering an on-the-job amputation will receive in damages for a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Comp Damages for Workplace Amputations Vary
Recovery amounts under Georgia workers’ compensation law vary depending upon the severity of the injury. This applies to amputations as well as other injuries. The law recognizes that losing a finger or part of a finger is a different matter than losing a hand or a limb. Still, Georgia law categorizes most workplace amputations as “catastrophic” injuries, including the amputation of a hand, foot, arm, or leg.
The catastrophic categorization has an impact on the amount the injured employee can recover. For instance, an employee who loses a limb could qualify for income and medical benefits for an indeterminate amount of time, and possibly even for life. Because every workplace injury claim is different, and the law deals in generalities, the amount of damages will differ from case to case. For instance, the law provides for “reasonable and necessary” rehabilitation services for your injury. What is reasonable and necessary will differ from injury to injury, but that is a medical determination, not a decision for the employer or even for the state workers’ compensation board.
Knowing that, accepting the workers’ comp system’s first offer of benefits is unlikely to be a wise decision without expert consultation. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that the initial offer is a low-ball by the state in an attempt to conserve limited resources. Trying to determine on your own whether the offer is sufficient would require medical knowledge you lack and put you into a situation you have neither the experience nor expertise to successfully deal with. Given the high stakes in ensuring that you receive the benefits you will need to properly deal with your injury, you probably should not try to navigate those waters on your own.