For some workers in the state of Washington, a workplace injury can mean the end of their career. Depending upon the severity of the injury, an employee injured on the job may never be able to return to work again. When this happens, the worker has a right to file a workers’ compensation claim for permanent total disability benefits. One injury that might result in a worker’s inability to return to work is an amputation injury.
Common Causes of Amputation Injuries in the Workplace
For workers who work in a construction or factory setting, the risks of sustaining an amputation injury may be higher due to use of dangerous mechanical equipment and machinery in these industries. According to OSHA, amputations are most common when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery, mechanical equipment, and power tools. Mechanical motions that involve rotating, reciprocating, traversing, cutting, punching, shearing and bending may increase risk of a workplace amputation.
The proper installation of guards and devices to help prevent contact points with workers can be beneficial in preventing workplace amputation injuries. Proper training and safety information regarding the machines is also important. Unfortunately, amputation accidents may occur even when the worker takes all proper precautions.
Washington Workers’ Compensation Coverage for an Amputation Injury
For workers who have been injured in the workplace, Washington workers’ compensation law provides workers with the ability to recover benefits. These benefits include medical benefits, wage replacement benefits, prescription medications, travel reimbursements, permanent partial disability benefits, and permanent total disability (pensions).
Often, an amputation injury results in a permanent partial disability award or a permanent total disability award. If it is determined that a worker no longer will be able to work again in his or her life, he or she may qualify for a permanent total disability award, while permanent partial disability awards may be available if the worker suffered a permanent disability but still may return to work.
Permanent Total Disability Pensions
There are two ways in which an injured worker may qualify for a pension award for a permanent total disability.
If a person experiences the loss of (or loss of use of) both legs, both arms, an arm and a leg or vision, they will be eligible for a monthly pension. This pension will be paid regardless of whether or not the worker is able to return to work.
A worker also may qualify for a pension if the medical evaluation and vocational evaluation determines that the injured worker has sustained injuries severe enough to prevent the worker from ever becoming gainfully employed.
A pension is awarded in the form of monthly benefit checks. Usually, an injured worker’s medical coverage will end when the pension goes into effect, although this may not be the case if ongoing medical treatment is required. While families are not covered by any medical coverage awarded, an injured person receiving pension benefits does not have to pay federal taxes on the income. The benefit amount that an injured person receives monthly is not the same for all injured parties.
When You Need an Attorney after an Amputation at Work
Losing a limb is a devastating injury, and one that can be emotional for a number of reasons. If you’ve suffered a workplace amputation injury, it is essential that you have someone on your side who can help make sure your claim for workers’ compensation permanent total disability benefits is approved. Ron Meyers & Associates, PLLC, can guide you through this process and work as your legal advocate.
If you need to file a claim for permanent disability under workers’ compensation law, let our team of legal professionals help you. We can help gather the important medical documents necessary and can make sure you are awarded the benefit amount that you deserve. Call us today for help at (360) 459-5600