Workers Compensation: What Are You Worth? Depends Where You Live

Can you put a cash value on the worth of your arm? How about your leg? Maybe one or both eyes? You may shudder to think of having to attach a monetary value to one of your body parts, but that is exactly what workers compensation laws must do in order to rightly award settlements in disputed cases. Taking the shudder sensation a bit farther, did you know that your body parts are worth different amounts of money in different states? If you have been injured in a workplace accident, it is important to understand why workers compensation laws stand where they do, as they may affect the amount you are awarded.

Brief history lesson

Workers compensation laws arose out of the Industrial Revolution. Something just wasn't right about firing employees who were injured because of dangerous workplace conditions, and social activists of the time did something about it. In 1911, Wisconsin became the first state to put laws on the book protecting employees in such situations. By 1948 when Mississippi chimed in with their version of the law, the United States had workers compensation laws from coast to coast. Employers were required to retain insurance that would

  • Cover the medical care of injured employees

  • Replace their income, at roughly ⅔ of usual salary

  • Rehabilitate workers whose prognoses pointed toward a return to their jobs

State of the states

However, such an ideal system didn't carry forward quite the way its founders intended. For one thing, each state was allowed to set its own parameters for the awards they would give to injured employees. Today, that means wildly variant workers comp awards based on where claimants live. Here are some examples:

  • The national average compensatory value of a lost ring finger is $14,660. In Washington, D.C. you could be awarded as much as $27,794. However, in Maine your finger is only worth $16,330.

  • Although the national average awarded for a lost hand is $144,930, if you happen to live in Georgia you can only recoup $84,000. Do you live in Alabama? If so, sorry; your hand is only worth $37,400.

  • The national average compensatory value for an injured foot is $91,779, but if you reside in Nevada, count yourself ahead of the game: you may be able to claim remuneration for as much as $216,088. However, in Wyoming the value of your foot falls below the national average at only $37,742.

Getting the most for your claim

When it comes to carrying medical expenses for the rest of your life, unable to earn the income needed to pay them, it is essential that you obtain the highest possible award no matter where you live. If you live with chronic pain and can no longer tend to your family the way you did before your accident, the amount you are compensated for your suffering makes a huge difference. It is critical to retain a workers compensation lawyer who has expertise and experience with cases just like yours. You can schedule a free consultation with an attorney to see how he/she would handle your case. If you don't feel comfortable with the first lawyer you meet, continue searching until you find one who you believe has your best interests at heart. You will not have to pay anything until the case has been won, at which time you will pay legal fees based on a percentage of your award.

Where you live shouldn't make a difference as to the value of your injured body, but it does. An experienced attorney from a firm like Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn LLP, however, will know how best to structure your case so as to receive the maximum amount possible in your particular circumstances. Whether you live in California, Alabama, or Kentucky, make that call today.