Any injury on the job site can be scary and painful, but one that causes an amputation can be especially tragic. Because of the dangerous nature of heavy labor and construction jobs, these types of accidents are all too frequent.
While a Virginia work comp claim may help you pay for medical bills and rehabilitation, nothing can bring back your missing body part.
What could cause an accidental amputation at work?
Accidental amputations on a job site are most commonly seen when workers operate machinery that is not safe or when they have not been provided with adequate training on how to use a piece of machinery.
Hands, fingers, feet and toes can easily be caught up in part of heavy machinery causing amputation. Equipment like printing presses, food slicers, trash compactors, table saws and automated doors can be especially dangerous if not used properly. Cleaning and clearing jams on these tools can also be hazardous.
What to do in the Event of an Accidental Amputation
If you are on the jobsite and you or a co-worker are involved in accident that results in a limb being separated from the body it is extremely important to get help right away. You should also take these steps:
- call 911 immediately;
- stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure with any material you can get your hands on such as a towel, t-shirt or other fabric;
- have the injured person lie down and elevate the site of bleeding;
- check the person for symptoms of shock such as passing out or being unresponsive; and
- recover the amputated body part (if possible) and gently rinse with water, place in a plastic or waterproof container and place on ice.
The treatment for an amputation can rack up serious medical bills, cause you to be unable to work and leave you with deep emotional scarring.
A work comp claim may be able to help you recover compensation to help with these expenses and issues.
Since an amputation is such a rare and serious situation there are certain procedures and situations you will be subject to.
No one can receive Workers’ Compensation for life and an amputation victim can expect to receive benefits on a schedule according to what limb was lost in the injuries at work.
Workers’ comp benefits for amputation are paid as follows:
- Arm – 312 weeks of compensation;
- Leg – 288 weeks of compensation;
- Hand – 244 weeks of compensation;
- Foot – 205 weeks of compensation;
- Thumb – 75 weeks of compensation and
- First finger – 46 weeks of compensation
Dealing with the loss of a limb in a work accident that resulted in amputation can be extremely serious. On top of the stress of losing a body part you may be dealing with a phenomenon known as “phantom pain.” This side effect can begin as soon as the limb was amputated or as late as a few months to 1 year after the accident.
Some of the symptoms of phantom pain after an amputation can include feelings of:
- aching and
- numbness all in the area of the affected limb.
This pain can cause you to be unable to function normally and could even cause you to become depressed.
A Richmond Workers’ Compensation attorney could connect you with a doctor who may suggest the following treatments:
- electrical nerve stimulation;
- scar tissue removal and
- phsycial therapy.
Unfortunately, this type of affliction is not well understood by the medical community so treatment for phantom pain can be difficult. If you are experiencing this type of pain after an amputation accident, the benefits from your work comp claim may be able to help you. Contact your Richmond Workers’ Compensation attorney to get the help you need.
The Amputation Medical Procedure after a Work Injury
- An amputation usually requires a hospital stay of five to 14 days or more, depending on the surgery and complications. The procedure itself may vary, depending on the limb or extremity being amputated and the patient’s general health.
- Amputation may be done under general anesthesia (meaning the patient is asleep) or with spinal anesthesia, which numbs the body from the waist down.
- When performing an amputation, the surgeon removes all damaged tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible.
- A doctor may use several methods to determine where to cut and how much tissue to remove. These include:
- Checking for a pulse close to where the surgeon is planning to cut
- Comparing skin temperatures of the affected limb with those of a healthy limb
- Looking for areas of reddened skin
- Checking to see if the skin near the site where the surgeon is planning to cut is still sensitive to touch
During the amputation procedure, the surgeon will:
- Remove the diseased tissue and any crushed bone
- Smooth uneven areas of bone
- Seal off blood vessels and nerves
- Cut and shape muscles so that the stump, or end of the limb, will be able to have an artificial limb (prosthesis) attached to it
- The surgeon may choose to close the wound right away by sewing the skin flaps (called a closed amputation). Or the surgeon may leave the site open for several days in case there’s a need to remove additional tissue.
- The surgical team then places a sterile dressing on the wound and may place a stocking over the stump to hold drainage tubes or bandages. The doctor may place the limb in traction, in which a device holds it in position, or may use a splint.
Filing a Workers Compensation Claim
An accident on the job site that results in the amputation of a worker’s body part(s) can be radically life-changing.
Amputations can have long-lasting effects, cause serious and debilitating pain and alter your ability to work or lead a normal life.
The Workers’ Compensation system is in place to help injured workers in their time of need such as after an amputation.
So, how do you access the benefits of a work comp claim?
- report the injury to your employer as soon as possible;
- your employer will then sit down with you, within 24 hours of your report, to fill out the appropriate forms and paperwork to submit to the proper agency;
- you will likely be asked to visit a doctor to be treated for your injuries and copies of your medical records from this visit will be included with your work comp claim;
- your claim may be denied and you will need to file an appeal with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation review board to pursue benefits; and
- once your claim is accepted you will begin to receive your benefits.
Filing a claim sounds like it should be easy; however, sometimes employers do not follow proper procedure which could put your work comp claim at risk.
If you are having problems filing for workers comp or receiving help for your injuries from you employer contact a Richmond Workers’ Compensation attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact a Richmond Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When you have difficulties with your work-related injury claim, a Richmond Workers’ Compensation attorney can bear some of the burden you’ve been placed under. To get back on your feet, whether it means getting back to work or getting the benefits you deserve, order a copy of our free book, the Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia, and contact a workers’ comp attorney at the Injured Workers Law Firm for a no-cost consultation – 877-755-7744 or 804-755-7755.
About the Author: Injured Workers Law Firm
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.