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On July 16, I was injured on the job. I got my right hand caught in some machinery and ended up with a crushed hand. I was transported by ambulance to Harborview Hospital in Seattle (approximately 140 miles from where it happened). I went right into surgery and then spent the next five days there in an 80 degree room (they call it the "Tropicana Room") and being given "leech therapy." Supposedly, the hot room is beneficial for the blood flow. On the sixth day, I was transferred to the U of W Medical Center, where I had another surgery for skin grafting (from a cadaver donor....ugh). On Tuesday, the 24th, I came home.

Anyway, my thumb and the first two fingers had to be reattached. They couldn't save the ring finger.

Now I am preparing for a whole new way of life. It seems as if every few years I'm having to start over and I'm trying to keep a good attitude and go on.

My question(s) I have for my HT friends has to do with (mostly) how to deal with Labor and Industries and the policies, etc. that go with it.

My first and most pressing question is in regards to my lost finger. When you lose a limb, there is a settlement amount, based, I guess, on how important that particular limb is. I think, for a finger, it's something like $4,000. When I talked to my "caseworker" the other day, she informed me they pay no settlements until the case is closed and I'm back to work. According to my doctor, that is months and a number of more surgeries down the road. And, he said I will never have the movement in that hand that would allow me to return to my job. He told me I will need to "push" for job re-training (another question: how cooperative is L and I when it comes to re-training?). So, why can't I be paid for the one lost finger now? There is still some question about the thumb. At first they didn't think the thumb was going to be saved but now they're thinking that if I lose any of it, it will just be part of it. I guess a short thumb is better than no thumb.

I don't want to make this too long. Plus I'm having to do all the typing with my left hand which is kinda' tiring. I'm just hoping maybe some of you have some experience dealing with this type of thing or can maybe point me to a site or sites that could help me. I was thinking about talking to an attorney but any money they would help me collect, they would get part of it.

I am a single parent (three kids still at home) and I will only be collecting 66% of my wages. The money for the lost finger would sure come in handy (firewood, etc.). Plus, I'm having to go to Seattle once a week (120 miles each way) and to a therapist two or three times a week (31 miles each way). Since I can't drive my little 5-speed (can't shift) with the good gas mileage, I'm having to drive my 4-wheel-drive (automatic) which gets only 14 mpg. I will get reimbursed for my travel expenses but I have to be able to pay for them in the first place. Also, I don't know how long it takes to get that reimbursement.

I appreciate any help/advice I can get. I've never had to deal with this kid of thing before.

Janis

(Whoops. I meant to post this on Countryside Families.)
 

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Go to a lawyer. Ther are lawyers that specialize in this sort of thing. If the company hassles you, consider sueing. Why was your hand gobbled up by the machine? There should have been safety measures that would prevent such a thing, unless you deliberatly stuck your hand in. Most companies will settle out of court, but you will need enough money to live on while you learn a new trade. Don't let them jerk you around.

You are right about the attorney keeping part of the money, which is why they try to get as much as they can. But without an attorney, I think it sounds like you are going to get nothing. Keep in mind, the "company" doctor is going to find you healthy and capable of working at your old job. Even if you don't sue, having an attorney will make the company take notice and give you what is due you sooner rather than later. Sell the five speed and buy an automatic.
 

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First thing, follow their instructions to the letter, dot every i and cross every t. Second, I'd try talking to a lawyer who specializes in work comp. stuff and see if they have any advice for you. Good luck! Workman's comp is not easy to work with. I honestly think they drag things out untll people lose patience and give up on them. But stick with it!
 

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first thing you want to do is get a lawyer. i been hurt at work and im going to tell you if you go to a hearing without one your going to get eaten alive. also compensation will pay for the lawyer so you dont need anything up front. i sometimes turn in mileage monthly but like you said , you still have to get there first.........mink
 

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I tried four 4 months to get my employer to work honestly and honorably with me and all I got were lies and delays. In less than 24 hrs. after retaining an attorney, I was placed on Worker's Comp. and a check for back pay and meds. was on the way. He also help get me Fed. Disability, although that took awhile. The bottom line is this, corporations look after themselves and not the employee. You have to do what they do, take care of your interests first and don't worry about them. As everyone else has advised, get an attorney, ASAP! And do not be quick to settle. You might settle now and then later have more expenses due to your injuries getting worse. The company will be off the hook if you settle.

Good luck,
MikeL

P.S.: What my lawyer takes is well worth it!
 

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As a disabled Federal Fisheries Biologist with severe leg injuries (broken leg, steel pins, lots of damage) due to an industrial boating accident, and I can tell you a few things!!! You should document and copy every scrap of paperwork you receive and generate (write on envelope date received and contents), get a dayplanner and write down every phone call, doctor appointment and milage and everything connected to your industrial case. They will do everything to discourage you to go away so they will not have to pay on your claim!!

Since I am federal Worker's Compensation - I have a totally different worker's comp compared to other systems. I do not get a payout for loss of the use of my leg, but rather full compensation for as long as my condition exists. You should get 75% since you have dependants - I get 66% because I am single/ with no dependants. Yes travel pay for medical expenses is a pain - I get 48.5 cents per mile for 2 to 4 medical appointments per week. It does add up and makes a nice check a couple times a year. The US Government does not want me to have more than 1 medical appointment per day (go figure!!). It takes about 1 month for my travel check to arrive after I send them in by registered mail. All your correspondence should be sent in by certifed mail, cause they will claim they never received it otherwise!!!!

Get an attorney, in my Federal Case, I had to pay a retainer and pay the attorney when I could find one in San Francisco (300+ miles one way). His fees that I pay have to be approved by the Feds, but he does not get a penny from my claim!! I had to fight to get Vocational Rehabilitation in electronics (my hobby of Ham Radio of over 30 years), and then I got into a "Catch 22 situtation". The Feds said get a job, I was offered employment with a defense contractor requiring a Military Secret Clearence (I had 1 in the US Marine Corps). Suddenly I was told that I had to have a full background check which could take up to 1 year, after I was hired!! So I demanded a Military Secret Clearence or disability for the rest of my life. Never heard a word back from the USDOL/ OWCP, yet I still get paid every 4th Friday years later. I have had to have two seperate US Congressional Inqueries into my worker's compensation claim with the US Dept. of Labor/ Office of Worker's Compensation Program under the Federal Employees Compensation Act. That was due to the poor handling of my claim and difficulties in getting medical treatment!!!

All I can finish with is do not give up, and keep on top of everything. They will try to deny, mislead, and jerk you around in order to make you go away. I walk with a cane in chronic pain everyday of my life, and I had to learn the hard way in dealing with this. The US Government even withheld information on my benefits from me. I found that out from a fellow injured federal employee in a doctor's office!!! I just recently had to fight for months with my US Congressman's assistance, just to get another surgical procedure - that their doctors said I needed for my industrial injuries!!!!!

Don't give up and fight for your rights!!! Also as posted above, do not take the 1st settlement offer they give you!! Laugh in their face and tell them to come back with a more realistic number!!!
 

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I was recently injured at work and luckily my company was wonderful! I never paid anything for doctors, tests, medication and therapy. Luckily my case was no where as bad as yours.
I do remember while I was off getting information from the state regarding workmans comp and in the booklet was the compensation amounts for loss of limbs etc. There was also information about how to handle disputes.
You might want to see if your state has information similar to that available.

I agree with some of the other posters - keep notes on everyone that you talk to, and get copies of all tests and reports. I was able to get my xrays and MRI copied onto a CD. All I had to do was ask the hospital.

Good luck
 

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listen to Radio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do not trust employer. Do not trust employer dr. Well worth paying for your OWN Dr. CASH because employer dr. gets paid by employer and tests that might PROVE Worse injury MIGHT NEVER get approved for payment thus the employer dr. will not even suggest such a test. IF YOU Pay for the test then YOU can get the real care that you need.

Watch how much pain meds you take that was used against my DH (the test to PROVE he was REALLY in such pain was not even know to exist to us for 6 years and employer made it seem that DH was a JUNKY --Problem just found in the last 2 months. Surgery to solve problem was done 8 days ago.
 

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I hate lawyers, but I also hate getting screwed over and getting good advice is the best way to avoid getting screwed. As others have said getting the advice of a lawyer and documenting everything is very important. Be careful of the wording of a settlement, that has a great amount of finality with it. An injury like yours can require treatment many years down the road and with a workmans comp claim it should stay open for future problems if they arise. a couple of grand now might seem like a windfall but in reality could cost you tremendously down the line.
 

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I'm sorry to hear you are having to go through with all this. It shouldn't be that way.

I used to work in a metal stamping plant. In one short period they had 3 people lost fingers. Another guy had his hand flattened. I believe the company offered some of them a small lump sum ($10,000) and one of the guys actually took it.

Definitely get a lawyer even if your company is bending over backwards to treat you right. It doesn't have to be confrontational but the lawyer can always check for hidden problems.

Your life has changed and the settlement should reflect that.
 

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I agree with the others here who have told you not to take the $4000 settlement for the ring finger. First of all, that's WAY too little money for the loss of a finger, secondly if you accept any sort of settlement, for even part of the total injuries, you will make it harder to get any settlement for the damage done to your thumb and other fingers. It sounds like you are normally righthanded. That makes this injury even more tragic for you, and that fact is something that a lawyer will best be able to get across. I once knew a guy who had cut his thumb badly while working as a chef. The thumb never did return to normal functioning and eventually had to be removed. He also suffered a great deal of nerve damage in that hand as a result. Not trying to scare you, just pointing out that the current state of things may be just the tip of the iceberg. That's why we have Personal Injury lawyers. They have experience representing individuals who have been injured and going after big companies. Do yourself a favor and at least talk to a PI lawyer. They will be able to advise you as to your rights and how to proceed with things.
 

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Hey.

I am 100% sure you need a Workman's Compensation(Personal Injury) lawyer. They don't charge until you get a settlement. Charges are taken out of proceeds. You'll get alot more than $4K...probably at least $40k or more. Insurance may even pay to train you for a new job. Just remember, you are crippled and should only talk to your new lawyer about the case.

RF
 

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PS: Insurance company will jerk you around and try to cheat you if you don't get the lawyer. He will handle the jackels while you are recovering.
 

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Janis - Please see a workman's comp. attorney, as has been stated! You have one shot to get this one right. The outcome will help shape the rest of your life! I hope all is going well with your recovery!
-Shelly
 

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Janis, I have never had an on-the-job injury, but I did have a doctor operate in the wrong place. I did not seek out an attorney. I went to my insurance company to have them help me. They had a medical peer review of what the doctor did. I was not allowed to be at the review, nor did anyone even interview me or ask for any kind of proof...and I didn't know when it was happening. I had a surgical consent form typed up by the doctor's office, and signed by me, prior to the surgery, that proved I was right and he operated in the wrong place. They didn't even get a copy of it before the peer review. The peer review sided with the doctor.

A year later, I went to a different doctor for the same problem. He remembered my case because he was on the peer review. He apologized and said "we were wrong".

The insurance company paid for my surgery (no cost to me) and they said I could have a second operation to correct the problem (again no cost to me), but they never offered anything else. I was too depressed and in shock to take it any further. If I'd had an attorney who would have fought for me, perhaps I would have been able to fight them, and be compensated for the emotional and physical shock of what he did, but on my own I just wasn't up to it.

I am only telling you this, because you need to understand that they all support each other (insurance companies, doctors, corporations). The only advocate you have is an attorney.

So, while I don't believe in frivolous law suites asking for unreasonable amounts of money, I do believe that in a case like this, you probably will not be treated fairly, or fast enough to help you when you need it most, without an attorney as an advocate.

I am so sorry about your hand. It just breaks my heart to hear that.
 

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I wanted to add, luckily I have my own family physician of over 20+ years handling the main aspects of my industrial injuries and prescribing all of my medications including opiate based meds. My family doctor has known me long before I was mangled at work, so he has a prior history to base his medical opinions on!!

Also, I am one of the few people that I know of that has had an Orthopedic Surgeon write a retraction as to their opinion of permanent injuries. That was due to another federal employee with same name (different middle initial) working for the Bureau of Land Management was injured with a back injury around the same time I was injured, where I worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the same building. We were both seen by the same Orthopedic Surgeon (assigned by the US Government), and in my evaluation I was listed as having leg and back injuries (lower left extremity only for me). I went in and pointed out their mistake to them, and received a correction/ retraction letter as to their screwed up evaluation. The US Government wanted to go after me for filing a false claim, due to that first letter from the Orthopedic Surgeon evaluating my medical condition!!!!!

Watch/ scrutinize every piece of paper you get, and they will withhold information from you - hoping that you do not find out about it before your time frame for filing for your benefits runs out!!!!
 

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Janis, one thing I have not seen mentioned here is what kind of machinery and what kind of place do you work. There are different laws for agricultural, and laws also vary state to state. I know that here, in Wyoming, many industries have the OPTION to pay workers compensation. We are one that it is not required, but we do it anyway - it just seems the right thing to do. We have a friend who got caught in a piece of farm equipment and mangled the hand and wrist. He was entitled to nothing....not even medical bills, because of the type of job and the state laws, and his employer hung him out to dry. We have another friend who was run over, same type of employment, his employer picked up the medical costs, but did not have to, and he was not entitled to any wages or compensation until he could go back to work. Personally, workmens compensation is not THAT much and we would not do without it, even though we have never had an accident here.

Before you decide whether to accept or reject anything that is offered, make sure you know the laws.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Everyone:

This is going to be short because I just got home from running some errands (hitting garage sales, second hand stores, looking for a portable dishwasher....it is impossible to wash dishes with one hand and I'm getting tired of nagging the kids; no luck, though, on finding one) and, frankly, I'm kinda' pooped.

I just want to let everybody know that I am reading all the advice and I also want to let you all know how much I appreciate it.

Another question, though: the office manager called the other day wanting to know how I'm doing and wanting to tell me how concerned everyone is. My gut feeling is to keep most information pretty much to myself when talking to anyone from work. Are my instincts right?

Also, RockyGlen, I work(ed) in a sawmill and was operating the "stacker". If anyone is interested, I will go into more detail tomorrow.

Thanks again.

Janis
 

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Any inquires from persons of the employ should be handled with the most vagueness available. If someone calls you and asks, 'Hows the hand doing today", your answer should never be 'Its coming along', or, 'its a bit better today'.

DON'T GIVE them any ammunition. Any thing you say can be used against you. Don't cripple your own attorney, with stuff that can be turned toward you.

PS, After the attorney wins you case, shoot it, excellent fertilized for turnips. Thats their distasteful game.
 

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Just food for thought.
I lost the tip of my finger a few years back. Didn't miss any time other than the actual day of the accident. After app. 9 months of answering work. comp. questions and evaluations the work. comp. settled on app. 20K. I was ok with that and didn't have an attorney.
 
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