Hand Injuries & Workers’ Comp Claims in Pennsylvania
Workplace hand injuries typically involve falling objects, heavy machinery, and overuse (associated with manual labor). These are among the top 5 most common workplace injuries, affecting about 150,000 American workers annually.
Data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Labor & Industry shows that workplace hand injuries account for roughly 13% of workplace injuries nationally, and 6.3% of injuries in Pennsylvania.
Employees who suffer a workplace hand injury, may not be aware of their workers’ compensation eligibility. That is why it is important to understand the specific types of injuries that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania, how to file a workers’ compensation claim, the types and amount of compensation to expect based on that injury, and how an attorney can assist in the claims process.
Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim for a Hand Injury?
If you suffered a work hand injury or were injured while completing a work-related duty, then you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim.
The overwhelming majority of workplace hand injuries are the result of lacerations to the skin. These types of injuries account for an estimated 63% of all workplace hand injuries and are often not very severe.
However, there are other workplace hand injuries which present more significant health complications. In addition to lacerations and cuts, the most common workplace hand injuries are:
- Skin irritation (chemical exposure)
- Sprains and strains
- Crush injuries
- Amputations (loss of limb)
How Can I Make a Hand Injury Claim?
After suffering a workplace hand injury, it is important to begin the workers’ compensation claims process as soon as possible. While your health should always be your primary concern, ensuring that your claim is filed properly and within the filing deadlines may ultimately be the difference between receiving the benefits you need and not.
Immediately following a hand injury in the workplace, you should:
1. Report the injury to your employer.
As soon as possible following injury, you should notify your employer. To ensure that benefits are retroactive to the date of injury, it is important to report your injury within the first 21 days of incident. If you’re unable to report the injury within the first 21 days, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits (beginning from the date of notice) as long as the injury is reported within the first 120 days.
2. Get medical help and tell your doctor that the injury is work-related.
Under Pennsylvania law, medical treatment must initially be sought within the first 90 days of notice to your employer, and when applicable with an employer-approved medical provider. After the first 90 days, you may choose your own medical provider.
While it may not seem important in the context of your care, making sure your doctor is aware that your injury is work-related can have a significant impact on your workers’ compensation claim. Informing your medical provider that the injury is work-related will make sure the doctor reflects that fact in all your medical records, which will be reviewed by the Department of Labor and Industry once you file your claim.
3. File a workers’ compensation claim.
After being notified of your injury, your employer is required to submit their First Report of Injury to the state. You will file your workers’ compensation claim after your employer submits their report. There is a three-year deadline from the date of injury to file your claim. Consulting with an attorney during this process is a good strategy for maximizing benefits and ensuring your claim is filed properly.
How Common is a Hand Injury at Work?
Injuries to the hand account for roughly 1 in 8 of all workplace injuries nationally, and impact about 11,000 Pennsylvania workers annually.
With that being said, the frequency with which hand injuries occur is not indicative of a trend. In fact, workplace injuries remain in a steady state of decline.
As demonstrated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the incidence of total workplace injuries, including workplace hand injuries, has consistently declined (year over year) for each of the last 6 years.
Are Hand Injuries Common in Certain Industries?
Because of their relationship to physical labor and slip and fall accidents, the industries and positions with the highest probability of workplace hand injuries are:
- Construction (Laborers and Freighters)
- Manufacturing (Stock and Material Movers)
- Trade and Transportation (Retail and Truck Drivers)
- Health Care (Nursing and Ambulatory Staff)
What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Get?
As is the case for all workplace injuries under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, hand injuries resulting from workplace accidents are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in a variety of forms, including:
- Replacement of lost wages (weekly installments or in lump-sum settlements)
- Payment of medical expenses
- Specific loss benefits (loss of limb/use of limb)
- Disfigurement benefits
- Subsequent injury benefits
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers are eligible for wage loss compensation, full medical treatment coverage, and specific loss benefits for employees who suffer workplace injuries.
Workers’ compensation benefits are generally determined by the severity of the injury suffered and the time the injury forces an employee to miss work (or partial/permanent disability resulting from the injury).
How Much Compensation Can I Expect for Hand Injuries?
Workers’ compensation benefits are calculated based on a variety of criteria, including:
- The severity of the injury
- Classification of disability (total or partial)
- Wage loss from the injury
- Medical expenses
- Prior disability benefits
In Pennsylvania, weekly compensation loss benefits are generally provided at between 66.6% and 90% of average weekly wage (AWW) and capped at $1,025.00 per week.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the average total cost of hand-injury worker’s compensation claims nationally to be $23,247 (in lost wages and medical costs). Below is a table for estimated settlement amounts based on the NSC claim cost average for hand injuries.
|Severity of Hand Injury||Estimated Settlement Amounts||Types of Injury|
|Mild||$1 – $15,498||Sprains, lacerations, etc.|
|Moderate to Severe||$15,498 – $23,247||Skin irritations (chemical exposure), fractures, etc..|
|Extremely Severe||$23,247 (+)||Amputation, loss of limb, loss of use, etc.|
Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Hand Injury Claims
To ensure your maximum settlement offer and/or compensation benefits in the event of a workplace hand injury, it is essential to work with a qualified and experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
The highly qualified and dedicated team of attorneys at Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo is here to assist you in all aspects of your hand injury workers’ compensation claim. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today via email or call us at (844) 243-4849 or toll-free at 877-794-2396.