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Why Your Index Finger Is Worth More Than Your Ear

In its efforts to simplify legal matters arising from workplace injuries, the State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission has assigned specific monetary values to various body parts. What this means is that, if an individual loses the use of their finger, or hand, or arm as a result of a job-related injury or illness, he or she can easily know roughly how much financial support to receive.

The idea of figuring out how much a body part is worth is slightly disturbing. Is it fair that the loss of an index finger is "worth" less than the loss of a thumb? Or that partial blindness has a greater value than complete deafness?

Nevertheless, understanding how the state's Workers' Compensation Commission views such tragedies can relieve some of the anxiety involved in filing a claim.

What's worth what?

The value of one's thumb (or hand, or arm) may, in fact, vary from person to person. The worth of a claim is tied directly to one's salary at the time of the injury. Namely, victims typically receive compensation for a state-mandated period of weeks, in an amount roughly equal to 75 percent of their pre-injury earnings.

It is the number of weeks, rather than the actual dollar amount, that is fixed by the Workers' Compensation Commission. Some examples:

  • Thumb (master hand) - 63 weeks of compensation
  • Thumb (non-master hand) - 54 weeks of compensation
  • Master hand (loss at or above wrist) - 168 weeks
  • Non-master hand (loss at or above the wrist) - 155 weeks
  • Loss of hearing (one ear) - 35 weeks
  • Loss of hearing (both ears) - 104 weeks
  • Loss of vision (one eye) - 157 weeks
  • Loss of speech - 163 weeks
  • Loss of bladder - 233 weeks
  • Incapacitation of stomach - 260 weeks
  • Incapacitation of carotid artery - 520 weeks
  • Incapacitation of heart - 520 weeks
  • Incapacitation of brain - 520 weeks
  • Loss of tooth (minimum 1) - 1 week

Even with the rules laid out, it's difficult to obtain compensation

Nevertheless, even though the Commission has clearly laid out rates and durations of compensation, it can be difficult for injury victims to obtain. Employers and insurance providers alike are quick to challenge workers' compensation claims - it's in their financial interest to do so.

As such, it is necessary to work with a qualified and experienced attorney throughout the process, to ensure that you receive the full compensation to which you are entitled.

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