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A worker who lost part of her hand in a workplace injury should be entitled to more compensation under the statute, an appellate court held on Thursday.
In Senter v. Foremost Fabricators, a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously reversed and remanded an Indiana Workers Compensation Board decision, concluding that an award of $12,880 was an insufficient award for the worker who had to have her pinkie finger and part of her hand amputated.
Ms. Senter worked for Goshen, Indiana-based Foremost Fabricators. On April 29, 2014, her little finger got caught between two rollers on a machine, and the injury required the surgical amputation of her fingertip. A month later, the treating doctor found that the rest of the little finger and the bone along the left side of the hand to the wrist joint would also need to be amputated as well. She reached maximum medical improvement by September 2014, with an impairment assessment of a 10% permanent partial impairment to the left hand.
However, Ms. Senter argued that given the subsequent amputation of the hand bone that she was entitled to an award for one-third loss of her hand with an award of $65,000. A hearing member of the board calculated her permanent partial impairment at 13% and awarded her $12,880, and the full workers comp board affirmed the decision.
Ms. Senter appealed, and the appellate board reversed and remanded the decision. She argued that the board’s decision was contrary to findings of fact that she was required to partially amputate her hand but not awarded the money allowed under the statute for such an amputation, and the court agreed.
The appellate court held that the language was clear in “differentiating between loss of use and loss by separation and the calculation for each” but that the board read the statute too narrowly. The appellate court said that while Ms. Senter is not entitled to an award for the loss of her entire hand, the board should have used its discretion to provide a partial award for what was amputated on her hand, and reversed and remanded the case to the board to calculate Ms. Senter’s award based on a percentage of the hand amputation that the board deems appropriate.
A $43.5 million jury award in a personal injury lawsuit against a subcontractor was overturned Thursday by a Texas appeals court, which found that workers compensation was the injured employee’s exclusive remedy.