Catastrophic MN Workers’ Compensation Injuries: Amputations and Loss of Limbs

Several workers dig a pit at a construction site while supervisors watch from above.

Although work-related amputations occur less frequently than other work-related injuries filed under workers’ compensation, they are often more severe and cost the worker and the employer significantly more time and money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10,000 workers suffer amputations each year. The most common type of amputation injuries are partial or full amputations of the fingers, thumbs, and toes. Approximately 3% of amputation injuries involve the loss of hands, or arms, and another 3% involve the loss of feet or legs. Two-thirds of workplace amputation injuries occur in the manufacturing and construction injuries.

While traumatic amputations and loss of limbs can occur in almost any type of job environment, most commonly these types of accidents involve improperly or inadequate guarded machinery or equipment, including:

  • Circular saws
  • Band saws
  • Grinding machines
  • Punch presses
  • Conveyor belts
  • Food slicers
  • CNC milling equipment
  • Drill presses
  • Metal shears
  • Forklifts
  • Meat grinders
  • Power presses
  • Printing presses
  • Milling machines
  • Roll-forming machines
  • Roll-bending machines
  • Trash compactors

Amputations can also occur surgically if a body part is too damaged to repair, and is surgically removed. Or, after an injury, if a body part fails to heal or becomes infection, surgical amputation may be necessary to prevent a systemic infection.

Typically amputation injuries require extensive medical care and rehabilitation. Workers who have suffered amputations often have significant disability and difficulty returning back to work, and they may incur substantial wage loss. They may never be able to work again in some cases. A worker who has suffered an amputation injury may also require modifications to his or her home or vehicle to make them accessible.

While it may be obvious that Minnesota workers who have suffered an amputation as the result of a work-related injury may be entitled to a variety of Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits including medical expense and wage loss benefits, a thorough analysis by a work comp attorney might find that they’re also eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, home and/or vehicle modification benefits, and/or vocational rehabilitation benefits. And, even if you do receive a check for PPD benefits, don’t assume that your case is “settled.” It is common for workers’ compensation insurance companies to dispute a PPD claim and only pay a minimum amount based on a lower PPD rating. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) ratings are assigned by an injured worker’s doctor based on the guideliness developed by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, under Chapter 5223 of the Administrative Rules.

Some workers may be leery about applying for all the Minnesota work comp benefits they’re entitled to for fear of getting fired or other repercussions. This could explain why nearly 40 percent of work-related injuries and illnesses seen in U.S. emergency rooms are not billed to workers’ compensation. That is why it’s important to retain a lawyer early in the work comp process if you’ve sustained a serious injury. Often, if your employer is aware that you are represented by an attorney, it is sufficient to avoid harassment or the threat of being fired. Experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation attorneys can see potential future issues and advise you on how to avoid common missteps in the process that can cost you thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits. Dozens of Minnesota workers are injured in accidents that result in catastrophic amputation injuries every year. A knowledgeable and experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you in obtaining the benefits you’re entitled to. For a free, no-obligation case consultation, call Meuser Law Office, P.A., at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to learn more about your rights.