Find out the workers’ compensation benefits and settlement ranges for finger injuries at work, from simple fractures to amputations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states more than 1 million workers end up in the emergency room every year because of serious finger and hand injuries.¹
Work-related finger injuries can range from bruising and sprains to broken bones, crushed fingers, and amputations. OSHA receives reports of an average of seven amputations each day from only 26 states.²
Workers’ compensation insurance pays benefits to employees injured on the job. Workers’ comp benefits cover the injured workers’ medical expenses and wage replacement totaling about two-thirds of the worker’s pre-injury weekly wage.
Employees with serious finger injuries may choose to settle their workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum. Depending on the circumstances and severity of your workplace finger injury, you may have additional options for financial compensation.
Workers’ Comp Finger Injury Settlements
Minor Finger Injuries
Minor workplace finger injuries, like bruised or pinched fingers, might warrant some x-rays and keep you off work for a few days. The cost of a trip to the local emergency department or urgent care center to get your fingers checked will be minimal, and fully covered by your employers’ workers’ compensation insurance.
With minor finger injuries, you will probably be healed up and back to work within a week. In many states, like Florida, there is a seven day waiting period before an injured worker is eligible for wage replacement benefits. You’ll be back to work before there’s any reason to discuss a settlement.
Finger Fractures and Dislocations
Medical treatment costs for a dislocated or broken finger can range from $1,000 for non-surgical treatment to over $5,000 if you need surgical repair of one or more fingers.
Some finger fractures can be stabilized by taping or splinting. Some fractured fingers need pins or rods inserted to stabilize the broken bones. Healing can take four to six weeks. After the bones are healed, you may need physical therapy to treat residual stiffness in the fingers.
Example: Broken Index and Middle Finger
Roger works as a furniture mover making $15 hour / $600 week. One afternoon, he was helping a co-worker carry a couch through a doorway when the load shifted, crushing the fingers of his right hand into the door frame. At the hospital emergency room, Roger required surgery to stabilize the first two fingers of his right hand.
Roger was out of work for six weeks and was able to return without further treatment.
Past medical bills (hospital, doctors and X-ray): $1,000
Lost wages benefit ($400/week x 6 weeks): $2,400
Estimated Workers’ Comp Settlement Value: $8,400
Lacerated Finger Injuries
Deep lacerations (cuts) to a worker’s fingers require immediate medical attention at a hospital emergency department or urgent care center. The injured worker will usually be given a tetanus shot and advised to watch for signs of infection.
Most doctors recommend the injury victim to follow up by consulting a hand specialist to prevent long-term damage. The specialist can identify and treat potential tendon, ligament, and nerve injury to the fingers.
Lacerations without exposed bone may be healed enough in six or eight weeks to allow the worker back on the job.
Deep lacerations or cuts to the bone might need surgery and skin grafts to heal properly. Full recovery may take months, although most workers can return to work in eight weeks or less, depending on the number of fingers affected and the job requirements.
Example: Lacerated Fingers from Sharp Metal
Jerry makes $20 hour / $800 week working for a construction company that builds residential housing. Jerry was cutting a length of storm gutter when his hand slipped against the jagged metal, lacerating his right middle and ring fingers.
Jerry was initially treated at the local emergency room, stitched, and given antibiotics. He followed up with an orthopedic hand specialist who determined that Jerry’s ring finger required surgical repair of the tendon.
Because of the physical demands of his job, Jerry was out of work for 12 weeks until his damaged tendons healed and strengthened.
Medical bills (hospital and specialists): $1800
Surgery (tendon repair): $8,950
Lost wages benefit ($536/week x 12 weeks): $6,432
Estimated Workers’ Comp Settlement Value: $17,182
Amputated Fingers or Thumb
The traumatic loss of a body part in a work injury is one of the most horrific types of workplace accidents. The workers’ compensation settlement value of finger amputations depends on the number of fingers involved, if the thumb is affected, and if the affected digit is fully or partially amputated.
The cost of finger amputation surgery can range from $20,000 to $60,000, per finger. The higher range is for procedures that attempt to re-attach the severed finger.
Example: Severed Finger Successfully Reattached
Cheryl worked in a commercial kitchen making $18 hour / $720 week. One day, Cheryl got distracted while operating the meat slicer. The tip of her left middle finger was severed.
Fortunately, Cheryl’s co-workers had the presence of mind to give Cheryl first-aid and retrieve the severed finger before the ambulance arrived.
The severed section of Cheryl’s finger was successfully reattached. After healing from the surgery, Cheryl had regular therapy to restore movement to the injured finger and hand. She was able to return to work after six months.
Medical bills (hospital, doctors): $3,000
Physical and Occupations Therapy: $2,500
Lost wages benefit ($483/week x 24 weeks): $11,592
Estimated Workers’ Comp Settlement Value: $77,092
Lump-sum Settlements for Finger Loss
Workers’ compensation statutes generally classify an on-the-job loss of a finger or other body part as a “specific loss.” In the case of finger amputation, specific loss means the use of all or part of your finger is lost forever.
To address specific loss claims, each state has a specific loss rating schedule.
Your workers’ comp loss schedule will depend on the state where you work. You can get your state’s loss schedule from your State Worker’s Compensation Office.
Insurance companies use the schedule to determine pre-set, lump-sum payments for workers whose body parts have been amputated, or otherwise made unusable, as a result of their injury.
Lump-sum payments can vary, even for the loss of the same body part. In many states, the lump sum is a multiple of your weekly wage benefit, multiplied by your impairment rating.
Example: Scheduled Loss Award for Finger Injury
Sam lost part of his index finger in a machine accident at work. His doctor determined Sam still has 50 percent use of his finger since Sam can still bend it now that it’s healed. His loss of use is 50%
Sam’s weekly workers’ compensation wage benefit is $600.
Because Sam’s workers’ comp used the New York State Loss Schedule, the loss of an index finger qualifies for a lump sum equal to 46 benefit weeks multiplied by the loss of use rating.
46 x $600 = $27,600
$27,600 x 50% = $13,800
Sam is entitled to a lump sum of $13,800 for his partial finger amputation.
The specific loss payment is separate from other workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ comp benefits won’t include payment for pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Workers’ Comp Permanent Disability
Finger injuries that result in loss of use are usually considered a permanent partial disability. A permanent partial disability doesn’t leave the worker totally unable to work.
While the finger loss may make it impossible to resume previous job duties, a worker may be successful in a different job that can be done despite the injury.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee an employer will have a suitable job for a returning disabled worker. Unless you have a contractual relationship with your employer, or company policy states otherwise, you may have no choice but to seek employment elsewhere.
Example: Office Worker Loses Finger
Amy is a right-handed data entry technician. Her job demanded accurate and prompt entry of information. One day while she was closing a window next to her desk, it fell off its track and the glass shattered. A shard of glass struck Amy’s right hand and severed her index finger.
Workers’ comp covered all of Amy’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and two-thirds of her lost wages. She was also paid a separate lump-sum settlement for her amputated finger.
While Amy couldn’t resume her duties as a data entry technician, she accepted a different position with her company in the quality control department.
A permanent partial disability rating is based on your primary physician’s evaluation of your overall ability to work, or the evaluation from the doctor hired by the insurance company to perform an independent medical exam (IME).
The physician should look at several factors when deciding the rating, including age, general state of health, education, work skills, and sometimes appearance.
The workers’ comp insurance company will consider the doctor’s permanent partial disability rating before making a settlement offer.
The settlement is supposed to offset the loss of future wages from your injury, especially if you can’t go back to the type of job you were doing before the accident. But the insurance company will offer what they think is just enough to get rid of your claim.
If you don’t agree with the insurance company’s settlement offer, immediately contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Your attorney can contest the physician’s rating, the rating schedule itself, and the amount of the lump-sum settlement.
Workers Comp Wage Replacement
Employees can expect their injury-related medical bills to be paid and to receive at least a portion of their base pay from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Never trust the workers’ comp insurance company to calculate correctly how much your weekly wage benefit will be. More often than not, they get it wrong, and the mistake won’t be to your benefit.
Each state has its own wage replacement formulas and payment limits. It’s up to you to make sure your base pay is calculated correctly. In most states, your base pay is based on an average of your weekly pay for the prior 52 weeks.
Demand a copy of your wage history information used by the insurance company. Look it over carefully.
- Are there weeks missing? If you had a seasonal layoff, those weeks should probably not be included in the calculation.
- Are the amounts correct, including raises, gas allowances, and overtime?
- Did you change from hourly to salaried? If so, was the salaried amount correct?
Your wage replacement benefit is typically two-thirds of your base pay, subject to maximum limits. If your average weekly gross pay (before taxes and deductions) was $900, two-thirds would be $600.
The amount of compensation for weekly wage benefits can vary, depending on your location. Each state has a weekly maximum workers’ comp benefit, meaning that’s the most you can get, even if you earned very high wages before your injury.
State maximums can range from approximately $780 to over $1300 per week.
Find out your maximum weekly wage benefit with this SSA Chart of States’ Maximum Workers’ Compensation Benefits.
Once your weekly benefit amount is locked in, that amount will be the basis for any later disability payments or settlements from worker’s comp. Make sure it’s right.
If the workers’ compensation insurance company won’t explain their calculations or refuses to change errors, contact a worker’s compensation attorney to help you with your case.
Injury Lawsuits Outside Workers’ Comp
Workers’ compensation will cover your medical bills and some of your lost wages after a finger injury at work. But it won’t replace all your wages, pay for replacement services, or compensate you for your pain and suffering.
An injury lawsuit outside of workers’ comp allows injured workers to seek full recovery for all their damages, including full lost wages, future lost wages, a spouse’s consortium claim, and an amount for pain and suffering. Injured workers can also seek punitive damages against negligent parties.
Suing Your Employer for Damages
Workers’ comp generally disqualifies employees from filing a lawsuit against their employer for their injury. However, there are important exceptions:
- Your injury was caused by intentional or egregious conduct by your employer
- Your employer is harassing you or fired you for filing a workers’ comp claim
- Your employer is discriminating against you because of your disability
- Your employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance
Case Summary: Unsafe Work Environment Caused Severed Finger
Terry Bradshaw was helping a coworker guide rebar into place when the coworker tripped over a pile of construction materials. The rebar caught and partially severed Terry’s finger.
Terry’s employer was in violation of state labor laws, creating an unsafe work environment. Because of the violation, Terry had grounds to sue her employer for her medical expenses, full lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Terry was awarded $50,000 for past pain and suffering, and on appeal won the right to no less than $35,000 for future pain and suffering.
At-fault Parties Other Than Your Employer
Workers’ compensation does not restrict you from pursuing compensation from third parties who may have caused or contributed to your injury.
A third party is any other person or company, besides your employer, who caused the circumstances leading to your injury.
Defective Machines: The majority of finger injuries and workplace amputations are caused by machine and power tool accidents. If you were injured by a defective machine or tool, you might have grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the equipment and the company that installed or maintains the equipment.
Vehicle Accidents: If your amputation injuries happened because of a car accident while you were working, you have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
Get the Help You Need
Simple work-related injury claims can usually be handled directly with your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company. But serious injuries that jeopardize your livelihood warrant legal advice from an experienced injury attorney.
You owe it to yourself to consider a free consultation if your work-related finger injury is severe, or may involve a product liability claim in addition to your workers’ compensation case.
There’s too much at stake to risk facing the insurance company on your own, much less filing a lawsuit against the other parties to blame for your losses.
Get the help you need to maximize your workplace injury compensation. There’s no cost to find out what an experienced personal injury attorney can do for you.
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