Hand Injuries in Workers’ Compensation Cases
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), injuries to the upper extremities are the most common type of non-fatal work injury. Unsurprisingly, hand injuries are the most common injuries within this category, accounting for more than 135,000 injuries each year.
While hand injuries occur in a wide range of work situations and across industries, they are most common in the construction and manufacturing industries. These injuries may result from poorly-maintained equipment, unsafe employer practices, worker negligence, or any one of many possible causes.
Fortunately, an employee injured at work doesn’t have to prove that someone else was at fault. The Illinois workers’ compensation system was designed to ensure that injured workers have access to the income and medical care they need, regardless of fault.
The Value of a Workers’ Comp Hand Injury Case
Illinois workers’ compensation law sets forth a maximum number of weeks of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) payments an injured worker may receive for injury to a particular body part. The cap for a hand injury is 205 weeks, or just under four years.
However, determining the actual value of the claim is more complicated than simply identifying the number of weeks on a table. First, an injury that results in less than total loss may not warrant the full 205 weeks. Additionally, the schedule sets forth separate caps for injuries to fingers, and the cap varies depending on the finger in question. The cap is highest for a thumb, and higher for an index finger than other fingers.
The Impact of Pre-Injury Earnings on Workers’ Comp Valuation
The maximum benefit for injury to a specific body part, such as a hand or finger, is described in terms of weeks of benefits. However, weekly benefits vary depending on the injured worker’s regular earnings. Thus, two workers who are each awarded 100 weeks of benefits for a partial injury to the hand may receive very different sums.
Calculating the Value of a Hand Injury Workers’ Comp Claim
Despite the formula for calculating weekly benefits and the schedule setting forth the maximum number of weeks of benefits available based on a particular type of injury, the valuation of a hand injury workers’ compensation claim isn’t necessarily clear or straightforward. Many hand injuries result in less than a total loss, which puts the parties in the position of determining the extent of the loss and where in the permissible range benefits should fall.
Of course, the injured worker and the workers’ compensation attorney want to maximize benefits to give the injured worker and his or her family the best opportunity to rebuild after the injury. However, the workers’ compensation insurer has a different agenda. Insurance companies make money by maximizing premiums and minimizing payouts. The treating physician and the physician who conducted the Independent Medical Exam (IME) may disagree about the extent, seriousness, or permanence of the injury.
That’s when the right workers’ compensation attorney can make all the difference.
Workers’ Compensation Experience You Can Count On
Attorneys Steve Hanagan and Brian McGovern have been fighting for the rights of injured workers and other injury victims for decades. They have dedicated their legal practice to helping injured and disabled people and their families secure the compensation they need to move forward with their lives.
We understand the challenges that injured and disabled people face, and work to make the process of pursuing compensation as simple and stress free as possible. We’ll travel to meet you if it’s difficult for you to visit our offices, or arrange to talk with you by phone or video conferencing if that’s more comfortable for you. We’ll provide useful information and honest advice—even if that advice is that we believe you can handle your claim effectively without our assistance.
The sooner you consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions and manage your case effectively. Just call 618-241-9251 for a free consultation.