When Your Job Costs You an Arm or a Leg: Differences in Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you had to put a price tag on one of your limbs – your arm or leg – how much would you say?

While it may be an odd subject to think about, ProPublica—a group of independent journalists working to report on various topics in the best interest of the public—has worked to calculate a compensation figure for losing body parts while on the job. These calculations, though a bit morbid, convey the surprising differences in compensation of a lost body part across the state lines.

Why is there such differences in the amount of money an employer will pay an employee who loses a limb depending on which state the injury occurred in? Because each state is allowed to set up and run their own workers’ compensation system according to Congress. This means that the payout that someone in Colorado receives can be vastly different than from what someone in Utah or Kansas might receive.

In our state, if you lose an arm while on the job, the workers’ compensation cap is placed at $162,869. This figure is slightly below the national average ($169,878). A worker’s leg and hand are also both valued $162,869; however, these body parts are valued above the national average.

ProPublica’s research also found that thumbs and index fingers are valued less in Colorado than the national standard. If you lose a thumb on the job, expect to receive (at maximum) $13,852 and $7,203 for losing an index finger.

If you’d like to see where other states add up, you can visit ProPublica’s website for an interactive overview.

The concept of an employer paying for the loss of employee body parts is not a new concept. This practice dates back to 2100 B.C. in Mesopotamia when the king of Ur paid working men for the loss of a foot and/or a smashed limb (10 shekels and one mina, respectively).

For those who lose a limb in the course of performing their job, paying for medical costs is just one of the many hurdles they will face. What comes next is even more complicated if you fall into the grey area of “permanent partial disability.” Permanent partial disability occurs when someone has been seriously injured, but they are considered able to work. In fact, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance, 40 percent of workers who are injured fall into this category.

If you or a loved one has suffered the loss of a body part over the course of a job or are having issues gaining compensation through permanent partial disability, please contact Denver work-injury attorneys at The Babcock Law Firm today for a free consultation. In addition, visit our blog and knowledge center for other worker’s comp topics.

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Categories: Workers' Compensation
Tags: Colorado job injuryColorado workers' compensation lawsdisabilityon the job injuryworkers' comp benefits
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