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Putting a price on body parts

One of the most devastating types of injuries a person can suffer on the job is one resulting in the amputation of a body part. Losing a finger, hand, leg or toe on the job can be traumatic, and victims of these accidents will almost certainly be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

However, the process of calculating the amount of benefits a person receives can be complicated and frustrating, especially considering the approach that is taken in order to calculate benefits.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has a rating guide in place to help doctors determine the severity of an amputation accident. The guide assigns a rating based on dexterity, pain and weakness associated with an injury, which allows the Commission to determine disability.

If a finger is amputated, the Commission will also calculate the permanent loss of the digit and award compensation based on that and the finger that was amputated.

For instance, if a finger is partially amputated and there is a 40 percent loss of use, the person will receive 40 percent of compensation during the period of disability. That period of disability depends on the finger involved. For example, loss of a thumb can result in 75 weeks of support while loss of a pinky may only warrant 20 weeks.

This can all seem like a very calculated and cold approach to compensating a worker who has lost a body part in a work accident, and it is. This is how the Commission is able to establish more uniform rules for awarding benefits.

However, other damages are typically suffered in the aftermath of amputation injuries that cannot be easily calculated, including pain and suffering as well as emotional distress. While workers' compensation won't cover these damages, a personal injury claim can.

Discussing your legal options with an attorney to maximize your compensation will be critical in help you get the financial support you need and deserve.

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