If you have suffered the misfortune of an industrial accident resulting in the amputation of an appendage, seek an attorney immediately. It is well established that the purpose of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) is to provide employees with a “prompt, sure remedy for their injuries and to require that the cost of industrial accidents be borne by the industry rather than its members.” However, never is this truer than in the case of what is referred to as a “statutory amputation.” This phrase is used because the Act treats amputations differently than it does other, less serious injuries. Amputations are typically irreversible, and therefore have distinct and separate rights that attach to them automatically. To be considered an amputation, the injury must affect more than just soft tissue. The injury must affect the bone as well.
Body parts that are covered in the Act include the arms, hands, fingers, legs, and feet. If the injury is considered a statutory amputation, the Act either provides 100% compensation or 50% compensation.
Any arm amputation is considered at least 100% total loss. Amputation below the elbow is 100% total loss, which is 253 weeks at the PPD rate, which is 60% of the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). Above the elbow is 100% plus 17 weeks. Amputation at the shoulder joint is 100% plus 70 weeks.
The loss of the hand is 100%, which is 205 weeks at the PPD rate. The complete loss of four digits of the same hand is also considered the complete loss of the hand. The loss of two or more digits or one or more phalanges of two or more digits may be considered the partial loss of use of the hand, but any statutory payment must be made for any finger amputations.
For fingers and toes, the loss of the first distal phalanx of any digit shall equate to a statutory 50% loss of use of that finger, and the loss of more than one phalanx is a 100% loss of use. The thumb is worth 76 weeks, the index finger 43 weeks, the middle finger 38 weeks, the ring finger 27 weeks, the little finger 22 weeks, the great toe 38 weeks, and the remaining goes are 13 weeks.
For the leg, anything below the knee is 100% loss of use, which is 215 weeks at the PPD rate. Anything above the knee is 100% plus an additional 27 weeks. Any amputation at the hip joint is 100% plus 81 weeks.
Lastly, the foot is 100% loss of use, which is 167 weeks at the PPD rate.
If there is no dispute regarding whether a claimant’s injuries arose out of and in the course of his or her employment, statutory benefits for the amputation are to be paid NO LATER than the time at which the employer reasonably knows the extent of the amputation and is capable of calculating the AWW.
If the employer delays paying the benefits and other medical expenses and cannot justify the delay, the delay can warrant penalties and attorney’s fees.
Again, if you have sustained a statutory amputation, please do not delay in contacting our office.