Finger injury at work affecting my education and future career...

by A
(USA)

I work for a large retailer and was told by a manager to do something that was outside the scope of my job description. I did as I was told and while I was doing it two of my fingers were crushed. I had to have surgery and was told that there was a good chance they had to amputate 1/2 of my finger.

Luckily they didn't have to amputate my fingers, but the doctor told me after my surgery that if my body didn't take to what he did there was still a chance that my fingers would still have to be amputated.

So far so good - no amputation, but my fingers are a bit disfigured. I still can't make a fist, can't really hold anything, and most of all I haven't been able to carry my daughter since the accident. I am also halfway through my Bachelors degree in network engineering and I have found that I can’t type as easily as I used to.

I am concerned that this is going to affect my future, typing is a big part of my chosen profession. As it is when I am completing homework assignments I find it takes me a lot longer to finish. It is still painful and that also tends to depress me. As far as the company, they have done what they have to do as far as providing me with wages from workers' comp and allowing me to go to the doctors.

I am upset about this situation because I was doing what I was asked to by my managers but it wasn’t my job I should have never been there. If I was doing my job I wouldn’t have been in this situation, but I was doing what I was told and now my future is at stake.

I am also upset because I was in the process of applying for other positions within my study field that now I cannot accept them. I feel trapped, like I have to stay here until this is resolved in order to make sure they continue to pay my medical bills. Is this true?

I also feel as if I cannot properly perform the job duties that I have been extended within the network engineering field.

So my question is... how much is my injury really worth? And can I sue my employer for having me do something that is and was outside my job scope? And as a result, putting me in harm’s way? Any information and perspective would be welcomed. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Finger injury at work affecting my education and future career...":

A (USA):

You probably cannot sue your employer. Instead, you must pursue a workers' compensation claim. Workers' comp benefits are limited to payment of medical, therapy, and/or dental bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and about 2/3rds of an injured worker’s lost wages. Pain and suffering are not included.

You don't need to feel "trapped." You are entitled to workers' compensation benefits even if you leave the area to pursue your education or seek other employment. It's simple... You were injured in the job, and as a result have a right to be placed back in the same position as you were before the injury.

While your employer may have acted negligently in assigning you to work duties you weren't trained for, that negligence, in and of itself isn't sufficient to overcome the application of workers' compensation rules and regulations.

To overcome those rules and be able to sue your employer separately from filing a workers' comp claim, you would have to prove your employer, in assigning you to those duties, displayed "gross negligence" or acted in "willful and wanton disregard for your safety." There doesn't appear to be any evidence of those exceptions.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION