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Workers' compensation covers loss of limb in workplace accident

In New Hampshire and other states, when a worker loses a limb in a workplace accident it usually happens under violently traumatic and painful circumstances. Such accidents often involve machinery that is not well adapted to the safety needs of the particular job. One common type of crush injury comes from mishaps involving forklifts and front-end loaders. In the aftermath of such a horrendous trauma to the worker, he or she will be compensated with the full array of workers' compensation benefits.

Some state laws also provide additional compensation for the loss of an arm, hand or leg under the workers' compensation statutes. In addition, the loss of a limb will likely make the worker disabled permanently and entitled to collect compensation benefits for the maximum number of years provided. Another way for the worker to obtain a reservoir of necessary compensation for damages is to sue a third party for negligence wherever that factor may exist in causing the accident.

For example, a jury in California recently awarded $17 million to a worker who lost his leg in an accident with a forklift. The man was working on foot as a security guard when the forklift reversed its direction and ran him down. The machine dragged him for several feet and crushed his right leg. Doctors later decided to amputate part of the leg.

That type of a lawsuit would also be allowed under New Hampshire law. Whenever a third-party other than the employer or a co-worker is responsible for the work-related injury, the worker can sue for all of the damages not covered under the workers' compensation laws, including for pain, suffering and loss of life's pleasures. A full recovery for loss of earning capacity, over and above what is provided under workers' comp, is also allowed. In this case, the worker could sue because the company employing the forklift driver was probably not the injured worker's employer.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Jury Awards $17M to California Man Who Lost Leg to Forklift", July 13, 2017

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