How much can I sue for a broken thumb? 35 Answers as of September 05, 2012

I accidentally severed my thumb while at work. How much can I sue my employer for having a machine that is not safe for use? Is personal injury different from worker's compensation? What are the main differences between the two? Which would be applicable in my case?

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David F. Stoddard
David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
You are entitled to workers compensation for any injury that occurs on the job, regardless of fault. It is the only action you can bring against the employer. You are not entitled to pain and suffering, and you award depends on your average weekly wage, and the impairment rating on your thumb. If part of the thumb was cut off, your compensation depends on how much was severed. If a third party is also responsible for your accident in addition to your employer (for example, if someone rear ends you while you are driving for your employer) you can file a personal injury lawsuit. In your case, if the machine was defective, you could sue the manufacturer. In workers comp, you do not have to prove whose fault it is. The employer is automatically liable for on the job injuries. In a PI case, you would have to prove that the machine is defective or you get nothing. If you win, you can potentially recover more that in workers comp, where you cannot recover for pain and suffering. It is impossible to tell you how much you can recover without knowing how much work, if any, you missed, you average weekly wage, how the injury affects your activities, etc.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 3/5/2012
Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
That amount is determined by the workers' compensation rules. And you don't sue your employer in the traditional sense; you file a workers' compensation claim.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 3/5/2012
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
Your case would likely fall under workers compensation, and you generally do not have a choice between the two. Under work comp, you do not have to prove that your Employer was "negligent" but your Employer does not have to give you money for "pain and suffering." If your Employer violated a safety rule, then there is an increased "penalty" assessed against the company for an additional 15% of the settlement value.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 3/5/2012
Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
For the most part a work related injury is covered by workers compensation, regardless of negligence or fault. If it can be shown that the employer was "grossly negligent"- i.e. knew the machine was not operating properly, refused to have it repaired and required you to continue to use the machine then you probably can sue the employer. The value of a severed thumb is not something that any one person can assign a value to in a negligence case- it must be determined by the jury. In workers compensation cases, there is a schedule that values injuries as a percentage of the whole man as determined by a physician and the schedule.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 3/2/2012
Dunnings Law Firm
Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
Workers comp is your only remedy.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/2/2012
    Goodman & Goodman PA | Bruce Elliott Goodman
    You cannot sue your employer for your injury, you can only file a Worker's Compensation claim against them. However, if the machinery had a design defect you may have a cause of action against the manufacturer.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    You cannot sue your employer if he provided workers compensation. You may be able to sue the manufacturer of the machine that hurt you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    You have a comp case you are limited to that with your employer.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Aaronson Law Firm
    Aaronson Law Firm | Michael Aaronson
    If your employer has workers compensation you have no choice but to come under the workers compensation plan. If he doesn't, you can sue him for negligence for whatever amount the jury thinks your thumb injury is worth. A lot of employers now have "arbitration agreements" were you are prohibited from suing based on a contract that you signed whereby you agreed to submit it to an arbitrator.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Jackson Law Company PLLC
    Jackson Law Company PLLC | Robert L. Jackson
    Generally when you are hurt at work you cannot "sue" your employer. You would have a work comp claim. If the machine was defective or owned or operated by a non-employee or employer you may be able to pursue what is known as a 3rd party case for damages against that entity.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    The extent of damages for injuries is a question of fact for a jury to decide. Normally, worker's compensation is the only recourse for on-the-job injuries, but you can still sue a third party, i.e. the manufacturer or seller of a defective product. You should call a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    You would have to file a worker's comp claim. The difference is you cannot get paid for pain and suffering in a worker's comp claim. Instead, you will have your medical bills paid, receive two-thirds of you pay for the time you are unable to work, and possibly a lump sum amount if you have a permanent injury.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Law Office of Patrick E. Donovan, PLLC
    Law Office of Patrick E. Donovan, PLLC | Patrick E. Donovan
    Your claim lies in worker's compensation. Your employer's worker's comp carrier is responsible for your treatment and any disability claim. An attorney versed in worker's comp. law will be helpful if you are looking for a lump sum settlement.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Lapin Law Offices
    Lapin Law Offices | Jeffrey Lapin
    There are many differences between "personal injury" and "workers compensation" cases. Most of workers compensation is governed by state statutes as are the benefits an injured worker is entitled to. In personal injury cases, there are no limits to what an injured person can receive. Generally, the only claim you can make against your employer for a work injury is a "worker's compensation" claim. This is true even if your employer made you use a machine that was unsafe. However, if a third-party, which is not associated with your employer, is responsible for your injury, you could bring a personal injury claim against this third party. For example, if you were "on the clock" driving from one work site to another and your vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle (not associated in any way with your employer) you would then have both a worker's compensation case against your employer as well as a third-party claim (a "personal injury" case) against the driver/ owner of the vehicle that rear-ended you. I do not understand what injury you sustained. You mention a "broken thumb" but also say you "severed" your thumb. There is a big difference in what you are entitled to if your thumb was only broken or if you lost your thumb completely. Under workers compensation, you are entitled to have you medical expenses paid, Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits while you were unable to work and money for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) if any part of your injury has permanent effects. This is why I indicated above it makes a difference what the injury was to your thumb. If you thumb was lost (completely severed; could not be re-attached) you are entitled to "sixty-six and two-thirds percent of daily wages during sixty weeks." Your "daily wages" are the average of your wages prior to your injury. Your TTD benefits are also "sixty-six and two-thirds percent" of your daily wages but are paid until you return to work or it can be determined the extent of any permanent injury. If your thumb was lost in the incident, you would not get TTD benefits as the extent of your permanency/ disability would be known immediately. DISCLAIMER: This response should be considered general in nature and for information purposes only. It is based on the limited information provided, makes certain assumptions and assumes that all events took place in Nebraska. It is intended only for cases involving Nebraska and Nebraska law and is not applicable to any other state or jursdication. In addition, this response is not a substitute for professional legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation for additional legal advice or legal representation. If you ignore this warning and convey confidential information in a private message or comment, there is no duty to keep that information confidential or forego representation adverse to your interests. You should seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction to fully discuss your case. You should be aware that there are Statute of Limitations (the deadline imposed by law within which you may bring a lawsuit) as well as other requirements and/or limitations that limit the time you have to file any potential claims you may have. This response may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. The author of this response is not certified as a specialist in any particular field of law by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    Most accidents at work are covered by workers' compensation laws, which limit damages. But there are exceptions. If the machine was unreasonably dangerous, you could sue the machine manufacturer and not be restricted by workers' compensation laws. Also, some employers fail to have the necessary insurance and you can sue for negligence. The value of your case depends on a whole lot of factors such as your age, whether the thumb can be repaired/made functional again, the extent of your past and likely future medical expenses, the extent of your past and likely future lost wages, and other factors. Talk to a personal injury lawyer or a workers' compensation lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Gilbert & Bourke, LLP | Brian J. Bourke
    You have a worker's compensation claim. There may be additional penalties against the employer if the machine was dangerous and he was aware of it and his conduct would rise to the level of serious & wilful misconduct. Consult with a local WC attorney as soon as possible to discuss details.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Zero. Your employer is immune from virtually all extra lawsuits if he has workers compensation insurance.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Workers comp determination and unless there is a basis for third party liability, your only recourse. File the claim.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/2/2012
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
    Lots of questions, and email does not allow for much detail. Workers' compensation will pay according to a chart of injuries. You have two years from the date of the injury to file a work comp claim, but some situations will extend that time limit. Personal injury cases in Missouri must be filed within 5 years of the event. You may have a personal injury claim as well, but again, I can't tell that from the information you have provided. The main difference between the two types of action is that work comp does not require a showing of negligence- if you are hurt on the job, you get certain things paid. A civil suit for personal injury requires a showing of negligence on the other party. If the machine was unguarded for example, or if your supervisor made you work in a manner that was unsafe, you may have a right to sue. Most qualified personal injury lawyers will handle your case on a contingency fee, meaning you do not pay them unless your successful.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Downriver Injury and Auto Law | Michael Heilmann
    You cannot sue your employer for a work related injury. You should file a comp claim with the employer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    In Alabama it is a workers compensation case unless a safety guard was removed.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    Worker's comp covers medical expenses and time out of work. You cannot sue your employer for negligence. If you have a permanent injury, you may be able to get a "schedule award" which is based on a formula depending on the extent of your disability. The manufacturer and seller of a product can be held liable for injuries caused by a defect of the product. You would have to prove that there was a defect in the design or manufacture of the product, or that they failed to adequately warn you of potential hazards, which resulted in your injury. Assessment of an appropriate settlement requires detailed analysis of liability and damages, including application of legal principles, evidenciary factors, medical documentation and experience in your jurisdiction as to likely range of prospective jury awards. This is a serious case, it is not a D-I-Y project. You severed your thumb, now don't shoot yourself in the foot.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    A settlement should be settled in less than ninety (90) days.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
    You cannot sue your employer in Massachusetts. That is why we have worker's compensation. As a general rule, if you are hurt on the job, it doesn't matter how the incident happened - whether it is your own fault or that of your boss or employer. You are entitled to worker's compensation benefits only (if there is no entity responsible for your injury other than your employer or fellow employee). There is no claim to be made for pain and suffering. Your benefits are based on the salary you make.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Ford, Howard & Cornett, P.C. | Bradley Cornett
    First, the accident should be reported to your employer, who should then prepare a first report of injury. If you accept work comp benefits, then work comp is your sole remedy against your employer. Under limited circumstances, you may bring a personal injury claim against a co-employee for intentional removal (including failure to install, repair or replace) a safety guard on a machine.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm | Reza Torkzadeh
    Good question, but requires a lot more information to properly answer. Workman's Compensation is the only recourse you have against your employer in California when injured while at work. However, you may have a claim against a third party which would then be outside of workman's comp.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/5/2012
    Koning & Jilek, P.C.
    Koning & Jilek, P.C. | Jonathan Neal Jilek
    It sounds like you have a workers compensation claim. You may also have a personal injury claim if the actions of the employer amount to an intentional tort.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Lennon Miller O'Connor and Bartosiewicz PLC | Christopher Morris
    Workers compensation is the sole remedy for a personal injury in the workplace. You cannot sue for the personal injury only for recovery of workers compensation benefits. Under the Michigan workers compensation statute you are entitled to wage loss benefits during the time you are unable to work and 100% of the cost of medical care. Wage loss benefits are based on a formula intended to pay 80% of the after-tax value of wages. An average weekly wage is calculated based on the 39 highest of the 52 weeks of earning prior to the injury. If a thumb was severed or cutoff, the injured worker would be entitled to a special type of benefit called a specific loss benefit. According to the statute the recovery for specific loss of a thumb is 65 weeks. This is paid even if the severed extremity his reattached surgically. The 65 weeks of wage loss benefit is paid regardless of whether the injured worker goes back to work or not. On the other hand the specific loss benefit is a credit against general disability. For example if an extremity is severed and then reattached and the worker returns to his job after five weeks of disability, then the worker would receive specific loss benefits for the five weeks of general disability and, after returning to work, he would be paid 60 more weeks of workers compensation. On the other hand, if the thumb is severed and the worker has a permanent disability which prevents them from ever returning to work then they would receive 65 weeks of specific loss benefits and may qualify for ongoing general disability.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    You should consult vwith a worker's compensation lawyer. Worker's compensation laws do cover personal injuries and provide for permanent impairment recovery for loss of fingers and a thumb.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    This is a worker compensation claim only. You can't sue. There is a schedule that is part of the worker compensation law that limits the amount you can recover.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC | Russell D. Gray
    Your case can only be handled through the workers compensation system, unless you can show that a third party (such as the machine manufacturer) is at fault for your injuries. This question can be complex, you should speak with an attorney to see if you have a case.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Richard E. Lewis, P.S.
    Richard E. Lewis, P.S. | Richard Eugene Lewis
    You cannot sue your employer. Your sole remedy is worker's compensation, unless you can prove the manufacturer of the machine is at fault.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/1/2012
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    You can't sue your employer. You have a worker's compensation case against your employer. You could have a products liability case against the manufacturer of the machine but it depends on how the accident occurred.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/1/2012
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