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Posted in Personal Injury on February 26, 2020   |  by Gary Burger

How much is your thumb worth in Work Comp?

A: Not much

Missouri Workers’ Compensation can feel really unfair sometimes - particularly when you cut off your thumb.

Unlike a civil claim, with Missouri Workers’ compensation claims, you cannot get money for pain and suffering, the value of your claim depends on how much money you make at work, your lost wages may be capped, and a lump sum payment for your injury is limited by an arbitrary “schedule of loss” assigned to each body part by statute.

For example, we recently represented a client whose thumb was sliced off at work:

Pursuant to RSMo. § 287.190, the “schedule of loss” number assigned to a thumb that is completely amputated at the distal joint is 45.

Based on our client’s hourly wage, which is part of the statutory formula, the most he could ever get, even if he lost 100% loss of his thumb is $10,642.50, plus a small amount for disfigurement. This includes the 10% increase in compensation you get for amputations. Doesn’t seem very fair, does it?

We were able to make the argument that the loss of his thumb affected overall use of his hand. The hand is assigned the number 175. We settled the case for 35% disability of the hand, plus disfigurement, which increased his settlement to $13,500.00. Still not much.

Unfortunately, that is just the reality of Missouri Workers’ Compensation. Sometimes an employee who lost his thumb might have a civil claim too, such as a product liability claim involving a dangerous machine, retaliation against the employer if they are fired because of their injury, or negligence against someone other than his or her employer.

We always investigate whether we can bring these claims to get our clients the most money possible. We are doing this for the poor young man at issue. Stay tuned.