Severed Finger in Work Accident...
(Midland, TX, USA)
At work 3 weeks ago a tool (heavy pipe for oil rigs) fell on my hand when I was moving it with a crane. It went through and cut my middle finger almost completely off and my ring finger was cut off entirely.
I went to the safety guy and showed him and said, "take me to the hospital!". He panicked and didn't know what to do. (He admitted to everything you're about to read in an incident report he had to write, and at a meeting held after my accident too.) After running in circles for a while he told me "let's go".
They didn't put my finger on ice. The doctor said it wouldn't have mattered anyway because the piece that was cut off was too small. But even if it didn't matter for my finger to be saved, shouldn't the safety guy have done that just in case?
We walked across the lot to the car when I think he should've drove it to me. When we were about to leave he sent someone inside to get his cell phone he forgot. We waited for about 10 minutes.
I got to the hospital and had surgery. Now I'm taking a month off of work (with doctor's permission) with an amputated ring finger and a rod in my middle finger. I'm getting paid $780 a week - a little less than I made normally thanks to workers comp. My employer is paying for the medical bills and everything related.
They say I will get a settlement for my finger/injury. I would like to know how to get the most money for what has happened... not to be greedy, but I lost a part of me and I feel like I deserve it.
Who can help me? Who do I talk to? Should I sue or relax and let my job/insurance/workers comp handle it? Thanks for any information you can give me.
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ANSWER for "Severed Finger in Work Accident...":
Ethan (Midland, TX, USA):
As you already know your claim for personal injuries is being handled through the workers compensation process. You can either trust the workers comp insurance representative who is handling your claim, or not. Because of the severity of your injury it certainly would be a good idea to at least make an appointment with a Workers Compensation Attorney. Most will not charge any fee for an initial consultation. If after seeing one you decide to retain her, the legal fees for her representation are fixed by law.
You have no legal right to sue. You are subject to the provision of the Workers Compensation Regulations. You can file a workers compensation claim and hope to receive a fair settlement. If at the end of the claim you aren't satisfied with the offer you can request a full hearing.
Let's take a look at the manner in which the safety guy handled the accident-injury...
From what you state it sounds like the safety guy was also in shock. As you already admitted the failure to put your finger on ice wouldn't have mattered. As far as the safety guy not driving the car to you, well that sounds a bit trivial. Having to wait 10 minutes for his cell phone is another action which didn't seem to make any difference.
Unfortunately there is very little you can do to increase the settlement offer. The amounts of compensation for lost fingers is set under the state's workers compensation code. You don't have a right to any additional amounts for pain and suffering.
To get the most money make sure every bill, every out of pocket expenses, and any other evidence of financial expenditures or losses is entered into your claim. Doing so will maximize your settlement.
Finally, don't rush to settle. Make sure you are fully recovered before signing their Release "on the dotted line". Once the claim is settled you can't reopen it.
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,
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