The loss of a body part is a tragic and traumatic disruption to who you are as a person and your everyday life. I wish I could give my injured clients full use of their body and return them to their pre-injury condition, but as a lawyer all I can do is get them the medical treatment and monetary compensation that the law provides.
In Pennsylvania, there is good and bad news in this regard. When a worker is injured on the job, often times the only remedy is Workers’ Compensation. This means that instead of going before a jury to ask for damages for the loss of a limb, the amount of money an injured worker is entitled to is set by law. In the case of the total loss of a body part, the law provides that the compensation rate (which is based on the injured workers’ average weekly wage) is multiplied by a specific number of weeks of benefits. For example, a compensable loss of a hand will result in an award of 2/3 of the average weekly wage for 335 weeks (e.g. if you earned $800 per week, your compensation rate would be $533.33 and result in an award of $178,665.550).
This may seem like a small amount of money for the loss of a hand—it certainly does to me—but it turns out Pennsylvania has one of the highest maximum compensation rates of all the states. In the case of loss of a hand, only Nevada, the federal government, and Kentucky award more money. Similarly, in the case of the loss of a foot, only the federal government and Maryland award more money. If you are interested in further comparisons, check out this site. It allows users to compare each state’s compensation for different body parts. Please note, though, that it uses the maximum compensation rate in each state for its comparisons. This means these numbers should not be used to value your workers’ compensation claim since the amount that you are ultimately entitled to depends on your applicable compensation rate.
To determine the value of your workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Even if you think an insurance company has offered the maximum compensation allowed for your injury under the law, it is worth talking to a reputable attorney to make sure you are receiving everything that you are entitled. This will give you peace of mind knowing that the insurance company did not take advantage of you. If you are being offered less than the law provides, your attorney will fight to get you what you deserve.