Are prosthetics for work-related amputation covered by workers’ compensation?

When he was a teenager, Rahm Emanuel had an accident with a slicer while working at Arby’s. Instead of seeing a doctor immediately, he went to prom and swam in Lake Michigan afterwards. His finger then became infected, and he lost most of his middle finger. But that didn’t stop him from becoming the 55th mayor of Chicago years later.

Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi loved playing the guitar until he lost the tips of his right middle and ring fingers. That happened when he was 17 in a sheet metal factory. He was about to give up music, but was inspired by a recording of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who lost three fingers in a fire. Tony eventually became the lead guitarist of Black Sabbath.

Rahm and Tony are amputees who have suffered personal injury while working as teenagers. In spite of that, they rose above their disabilities and showed the world that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Sadly, not all amputees are lucky and not all of them only lose fingers. Many lose arms, legs, hands or even more than one limb from an accident. For many people, an amputation is a serious and debilitating injury that causes intense pain and emotional suffering. Most of the two million amputees living in the United States find it difficult to work and perform daily activities. On top of that, they are saddled with a lifetime of costly medical treatments and social stigma.

Increasing number of amputees

In their study, Traumatic Amputations, Drs. Christine Ramirez and Jay Menaker of R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said that the rate of limb injuries has increased through the years because of modernization and violence. Half of all cases are due to traumatic amputations.

In civilians, these are usually accidental and caused by motor vehicle collisions and industrial accidents involving machinery. Many victims are men between the ages of 15 and 40 years. Digits (60 to 80%) and lower extremities are the most common sites of amputations.

The two doctors added that traumatic amputations often occur in the workplace and are estimated to cost billions of dollars yearly because of long hospital stays, work stoppages, and delayed work resumptions.

Other important findings of the study:

  • Work-related amputations usually occur in food, paper, and wood product manufacturing, employment service companies, and heavy manufacturing
  • Most amputations result from the use of machinery (like power hand tools) or the extremities being caught in or between objects
  • One study found that the left hand was often injured (63%), particularly the radial side if one finger was involved
  • Guillotine amputations caused by machinery like saws are the easiest to treat, but major amputations can be fatal due to severe loss of blood

High cost of prostheses

Depending on the location and extent of injuries, a prosthetic device or prosthesis can help amputees live normal lives. These prostheses function and look like normal arms, legs, hands, or feet and can enable patients to become independent again. The advances in prosthetic devices are simply amazing and can permit amputees to regain confidence and take back their lives.

Unfortunately, prosthetic devices aren’t cheap. They can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 and have to be replaced every two to five years depending on the type of prosthetic. If you live in North Carolina, however, you’re in luck because prostheses are covered by workers’ compensation if you were injured at work. Other remedies that may be obtained are adjustable beds, wheelchairs, and even housing or vehicle modifications to help patients move easily.

Workers’ compensation in North Carolina also covers medical treatment (doctor’s visits, rehabilitation therapy, diagnostic tests, surgery, and medicine) required by employees to treat work-related injuries, relieve pain, and help them recover quickly.

To ensure you get the full value of your work-related injury, consult a Worker’s Compensation Specialist like Maggie Shankle of Shankle Law Firm, PA. She will fight for your rights and get what you deserve. Many North Carolina residents know they can trust Maggie in this matter. Isn’t it about time you did? Contact her today for help!