You might already be aware of the fact that if you lose a limb or suffer severe facial disfigurement in a work accident, you may be eligible for additional benefits under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law. What you may not realize, however, is that these same types of benefits — known as specific loss compensation — also apply to the loss of fingers and toes, as well as the loss of hearing or vision. Additionally, these benefits may apply even if you did not miss work due to your injuries.
Specific Loss Benefits
In Pennsylvania, there are workers’ compensation benefits for specific types of injuries that may not always result in disability or missed time at work. These types of benefits, which happen to be a subset of wage loss benefits, are referred to as specific loss compensation and can apply to the disfigurement of the head or neck, the loss of extremities (including toes and fingers), and the loss of hearing or vision. These benefits are paid whether or not you miss work due to the injury (as is often the case with hearing or vision loss).
Compensation Based on Body Part
How much compensation you are eligible for depends on what limb or body part was involved, and even includes amounts for fingers and toes. What follows is a summary of the compensation guidelines for the state of Pennsylvania.
If your head or neck is disfigured, you may be eligible for a payment equivalent to a maximum of 275 weeks’ worth of compensation. Eye loss is also eligible for up to 275 weeks worth of compensation, along with up to 10 weeks of healing during which you would receive weekly checks.
For the loss of your entire arm, you can receive a payment equivalent to 410 weeks of compensation with an additional 20 weekly payments. If the loss of your arm is limited to your forearm, you can receive 370 weeks’ worth of compensation with 20 weeks of payment while you heal. If your hand is lost, a payment equivalent to 335 weeks of compensation is in order, along with 20 weekly payments. Fingers are also compensated: thumb, pinky, middle, and index are eligible for 100, 28, 40, and 50 weeks of compensation, respectively. The loss of your thumb entitles you to 10 weeks of payments while the other fingers receive 6 weeks of payments.
Loss of your lower leg means you could receive the equivalent to 350 weeks with an additional 25 weeks of payments while you heal. If you lose your foot, you could receive 250 weeks or payments with an additional 25 weekly payments during the healing period. Toes are eligible for specific loss compensation too. The big toe involves a payment equivalent to 40 weeks of compensation with 12 weeks of payments during healing; all other toes receive a 16-week equivalent payment with 6 weeks of payments for healing.
Other Types of Specific Losses
Not all specific losses involve disfigurement or loss of a body part. You can also claim specific losses if you lose 50 to 100% of the use of that body part. Keep in mind that this does not mean that the body part in question has been rendered completely useless. For example, there are certain types of hearing loss that can be eligible for specific losses: your ear may still be in place, but the hearing in that ear has been severely affected. Another example would be loss of vision, where you still have your eye but have lost 50% of your vision. Or, perhaps your hand is still attached, but you have lost the ability to use it in any meaningful way due to nerve damage.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Specific Loss Claim
In order to receive compensation, there are some specific things you must be able to demonstrate. First, you must be able to demonstrate that the part in question has been amputated (which should be fairly easy to do) or that you have lost functional use of it. Next, you need to show that the loss occurred within the course and scope of your job. You must have reported the injury to your boss within 120 days and filed a workers’ compensation claim within the statute of limitations (three years). Finally, you are responsible for providing the medical evidence to support your specific losses claim.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law provides protection for workers experiencing certain types of losses even if they do not miss work as a result of the injury. This includes obvious types of injuries such as the loss of a limb or facial disfigurement, as well as less obvious injuries such as the loss of eyesight or hearing. In order to be eligible for these benefits, you must be able to demonstrate that the injury occurred within the course and scope of your job, it was reported within 120 days, a workers’ compensation claim was filed within three years of the injury, and that there is medical evidence to back up your claim.
Contact Donaghue & Labrum
If you or someone you care about was injured on the job and you are thinking about filing for specific loss compensation, you should contact Donaghue & Labrum. Our firm has over 30 years of legal experience including cases related to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law. We work hard to represent our clients’ best interests in workers’ compensation cases to make sure they receive the benefits that the law has provided. Contact us today for a free consultation — we will even meet with you at your home or the hospital.