Every job carries some risk of occupational injury or illness. Office jobs expose workers to conditions that arise as a product of eye strain, and hours of typing each day can lead to a painful bout with carpal tunnel syndrome. These injuries, however, can likely be treated and cured by medical treatment and cautious recuperation. Amputation injuries or the loss of use of all or part of a limb or member are a different story altogether.
Though there have been significant advances in prosthetic design and functionality, loss of use injuries are still likely to render an employee unable to work in his or her chosen field for a substantial length of time. The workers' compensation and Social Security Disability systems have mechanisms in place to assist these workers and their families as they adapt to the radical changes, new physical demands, emotional strain, and financial distress that often accompany such a devastating occupational injury.
How Compensation is Decided
The compensation for loss of use injuries in Iowa is determined primarily through two separate steps. The first step occurs during the medical evaluations that follow a workplace accident. A physician will conduct an independent assessment of the extent of the physical damage that you have sustained and the prospect of recovery or a projection of how well you will be able to function without the lost limb or member. After this evaluation has been performed, your claim for disability will be reviewed based on a disability rating given in the course of your earlier medical visits.
For example, it may be determined that you still have 70 % use of a finger on which you lost the tip, so you would be eligible for compensation based on that rate. The rate of compensation is informed by an injured employee's average weekly wage for the preceding year, and the resulting compensation is to be distributed pursuant to a legislatively enacted schedule for, in this case, 30 % of the maximum time allotted for benefit payments by law. Some maximum lengths of compensation for total loss of use injuries are:
Loss of thumb - 60 weeks
Loss of hand - 190 weeks
Loss of arm - 250 weeks
Loss of great toe - 40 weeks
Loss of foot - 150 weeks
Loss of leg - 220 weeks
A Successful Disability Claim
To avoid getting caught up in the net of red tape attached to the filing of a disability claim, it is strongly advisable to consult with an experienced attorney.