Work Amputation Compensation In Alabama: Time for Change
If you have lost a limb while on the job, by now you have discovered Alabama’s backward and out-dated system of compensation for amputation injuries occurring in the workplace. Shockingly, while most states require the employer and worker’s comp carrier to pay for past and future lost wages and any vocational disability, Alabama has an obsolete schedule with a price tag affixed for each lost digit or limb! So, if you lose a certain finger, a specific amount of money attaches to that, regardless of your trade or educational level. Most commentators realize this is patently unfair and medieval.
Under Alabama’s Workers Compensation Act, employers are by law required to pay for all resulting medical bills for on-the-job injuries, two-thirds of the weekly wages while off work and for any vocational impairment caused by the worker’s inability to go back to work. If, however, you sustain an work related amputation injury, the compensation is limited to the specific limb or digit. While it’s true that other states treat amputees this way, Alabama’s awards are much less than other states. So, a loss of arm might net the worker $50,000 in Alabama but the same injury could be worth just shy of $200,000 in Ohio.
Due to the stingy nature of Alabama workmen’s comp law, many employees who can’t work due to an amputation at work, end up filing for bankruptcy or lose their homes, even though represented by an attorney. This is due, in part, to the cap of $220 week in temporary or permanent benefits to a worker while they are unable to work after the limb loss. This cap was set in 1985 and has not been adjusted for inflation. Perhaps more disturbing is that the cap applies regardless of the occupation of the injured worker…so, theoretically, a highly salaried educated engineer with a lost leg would receive the same amount as a factory worker, regardless of their job duties and responsibilities.
While many judges and even some insurance defense attorneys have called on the legislature to fix the inherent inequities in the work compensation laws, as of this writing, no bills have been proposed to increase benefits to Alabama’s injured amputees.
Drake Law Firm is a personal injury firm in Birmingham that regularly represents victims of workplace amputation accidents.