Workers' Compensation After Losing a Finger

Getting hurt on the job is devastating. Paying for monthly expenses, keeping food on the table, and watching bills come in that remind you of what happened can be extremely stressful. If you’re hurt on the job, you may qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer.

Workers’ compensation benefits help people who are hurt on the job. It can help cover necessary medical expenses, including prescriptions, surgeries, therapy, and follow up visits to the doctor. In fact, workers’ compensation policies have a list of approved doctors that can see injured workers free of charge. For workers who can’t continue to work either temporarily or permanently, workers’ compensation may provide them with a portion of their wages.

When it's Possible to Lose a Finger

We don’t really think about how much our lives would change if we lost a finger. This is because we rarely give our fingers much thought as we go about our daily activities. Yet, think about how much we rely on our fingers.

If you work on a production line or an assembly line, you are at risk of losing your finger on the job. If this happened, would you be able to continue to do the same job tasks? Think about what you do every day and how much dexterity it requires from you.
Cooks, auto mechanics, bakers, electricians, and close to every profession requires the use of their fingers. From chopping vegetables, changing tires, performing delicate designs on cakes, or wiring a house. All of those things take the use of your fingers. Losing a finger on the job could mean that you’re no longer able to continue to work in your chosen field.

What to Do if You Lose a Finger at Work

Depending on the type of job you do there are situations at work when a finger could be lost. It could be working in a kitchen preparing food for restaurant customers, working on a construction site or even as a deckhand on a fishing vessel.

If a finger is lost at work, a process needs to be followed to ensure you are eligible for workers’ compensation. You are normally entitled to this as an employee if you follow the correct procedure.

Losing a finger is a serious injury and it may be possible to have it reattached as long as you seek medical attention as quickly as possible and that may mean accessing some ice to protect the finger from excessive bleeding before heading straight to the nearest accident room.

You should also hold the injured hand high up and cover it with a sterile dressing. The amputated finger should be cleansed with sterile water, covered over with gauze wrap and placed in a watertight bag which should be placed on a bag of ice. This gives you the highest chance of successfully reattaching your amputated finger.

However, as soon as you are able you should contact your supervisor to report the accident. Some workplaces require that this is done within 24 hours of the accident taking place. If you fail to follow the deadline set at your workplace you could lose your right to workers’ comp. completely. You should inform your supervisor in writing even if to begin with you have notified s/he verbally.

Your employer may ask you to complete an official claim form as part of the WC claim process. If this hasn’t happened it is a good idea to request one from your state’s workers' compensation board. Typically the following information will need to be included on the workers comp claim form:

  • type of injury;
  • time, date and where in the workplace the injury occurred;
  • how many people contributed to the loss of the finger;
  • how the loss of finger occurred;
  • the medical treatment that has been administered.

Usually, your employer will file your WC claim with its insurer as well as your state workers' comp. board administrative office. Once your claim has been evaluated by the insurer, you will be notified as to whether your claim has been successful and the amount of compensation you will receive.

Depending on the success of reattaching the finger this injury may impact your job depending on the role your finger has to do the job successfully. You will need to file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible.

Before your employer’s insurer will even consider your claim you will need to provide evidence that the injury took place at work. You will need reports from eye witnesses, footage taken from surveillance cameras and a medical report from your doctor indicating how the accident took place and your likely recovery time.

Once you have gathered this evidence you should file your workers’ compensation claim. Sometimes, employers ask you to visit an emergency room that has their approval so you should check before rushing off to be treated by a doctor of your choice. You should also remember that depending on the state where the injury took place there may be a statute of limitations in force limiting the time you have to file a WC claim. If your claim is denied, you should be given the opportunity to appeal the decision.

How Much Does Worker’s Comp. Pay for a Loss of Finger?

If the WC claim is successful it will cover all the costs of medical treatment. This includes the cost of an ambulance, emergency room visits, surgery, if required, and follow up appointments after treatment. Also typically 2/3rds of the weekly wage is covered for the time taken off work.

Breakdown of treatment for a loss of finger

  • Cost of ambulance = $330
  • Emergency room consultation = $500
  • Reattaching finger = $9000
  • Course of antibiotics = $20
  • I month recovery time at 2/3rds of $900 per week is $2400.

Total = $11250

Pain and Suffering--Not Part of Workers' Compensation

Injured workers often think that they are entitled to receive pain and suffering through workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, pain and suffering isn’t paid through workers’ compensation. With that said, though, injured workers are entitled to damages that can be extremely beneficial in helping them rebuild their life after they lose a finger.

Help with medical expenses. When you’re hurt on the job, workers’ compensation may help with your medical expenses. This may include pain medicine, physical therapy for your hand, and even reconstructive surgery.

Payment of wages. If you can’t continue to work while you’re healing, workers’ compensation may pay you with a portion of your lost wages. If you’re totally disabled, you may qualify to receive a portion of your lost wages for a longer period of time.

Job training. If you lost your finger doing a job that requires manual dexterity and can no longer do that particular job, you may qualify for job training. Job training is a unique component of workers’ compensation because it helps injured workers get free training to find a new career.

Speak With a Workers' Compensation Attorney

If you’ve lost a finger on the job, don’t face the insurance company alone. You may sign over some of your legal rights if you sign a settlement agreement. It’s possible that you’d get much less than you deserve. To protect your rights as an injured worker, make it a priority to call a workers’ compensation attorney. Don’t delay. An attorney can help protect your rights and deal with the insurance company on your behalf.