In 2015, there were 5,700 amputation injuries to workers across the country. That represents about 15 amputations on the job per day, and the figure may not include those injuries that resulted in the loss of an extremity after the initial trauma.
An amputation to any extremity can be painful and shocking for an employee, and it can leave them facing new challenges both at home and at work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who suffer an amputation miss a median 26 days of work, adding to the stresses of the injury. For Iowa workers—like others across the U.S.—the workers’ compensation system offers specific benefits to aid those who lose an extremity or suffer the permanent loss of use of that body part.
What Is a Scheduled Injury in Iowa?
The Iowa workers’ compensation system identifies the loss of or permanent injury to an extremity as a scheduled injury. The state has set a schedule that denotes how many weeks of compensation different types of injuries will pay. It is based upon different body parts and covers the loss of:
- Arm: 250 weeks
- Leg: 220 weeks
- Foot: 150 weeks
- Eye: 140 weeks
- Hand: 190 weeks
- Hearing: 50 weeks
- Hearing in both ears: 175 weeks
- Disfigurement to face or head: 150 weeks
- Fingers: between 20 and 35 weeks depending on the finger
- Thumb: 60 weeks
- Great toe: 40 weeks
- Toe: 15 weeks
Injuries not included on the list of scheduled losses are considered industrial disabilities. It is still possible to obtain compensation for those types of injuries, but they follow a different set of guidelines. An industrial disability would include permanent injuries to the shoulder, knee, back, neck, body as a whole, and more.
Determining Compensation for a Scheduled Injury
Scheduled injuries may make an employee eligible to receive both healing period (HP) and permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Healing period benefits offer compensation while the employee is recovering from the injury, while PPD benefits are available once the worker has reached maximum medical improvement or is able to return to work. Both of these benefits pay injured employees 80 percent of their spendable weekly earnings, not to exceed a set maximum.
When considering a scheduled injury, the number of weeks listed in the schedule assumes a complete loss. An amputation would be considered a complete loss; an employee who loses an arm in a machinery accident would be able to obtain the full 250 weeks of compensation. However, an employee who suffers a permanent injury to his arm but retains some function, may not be compensated for as many weeks. A doctor will determine the extent of the loss and compensation will be offered accordingly. If an employee is said to have only 25 percent function, he would be entitled to 75 percent of 250 weeks, which calculates out to 187.5 weeks of benefits.
Our Experienced Iowa Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Scheduled injury benefits can be complex, and there may be some dispute over the level of impairment. It is important to understand how a medical provider is selected and how to dispute rulings you feel are unfair. An experienced attorney can help injured workers learn more about their rights and work with them through the medical review process to ensure that their injury if fairly compensated by:
- Obtaining medical records
- Securing expert testimony
- Helping to seek a second opinion
- Presenting your case at hearings
If you or someone you love has suffered an amputation or a permanent injury to one or more of your extremities, you will face many challenges related to your health, personal life, employment, and finances. It is important to obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible to ensure the security of yourself and your family. At Pothitakis Law Firm, our skilled legal team has helped many injured Iowa workers just like you move forward with their lives. Take a moment to request a free copy of our book, 7 Things You Must Know If You Get Hurt at Work, to learn more about how we can help.