Driller loses use of finger and receives $1800 payment from WCB. Sound fair?
(Q) I’m a floor hand. I lost a finger at work and had it reattached but I can barely bend it. Workers comp paid out $1800 for the loss of function, but I really don’t feel I’m being fairly compensated for my loss. I can give more details if you think you can help.
(A) Modern technology makes rigs safer and faster, but more than a few fingers are still lost throwing chains. Safeguards eliminate much of the risk, but nonetheless, oil and gas production remains dangerous for derrick hands, floor hands, drillers, tool pusher and/or production operator.
According to the International Association of Drilling Contractors 2018 statistics, hand and finger injuries comprised 43 percent of all recordable incidents on drilling rigs, a slight increase over 2017 (41 percent) and 2016 (40 percent).
As for the $1800 non-economic loss payment (NELP) for your permanent clinical impairment (PCI), that’s perhaps all you’re entitled to I’m afraid. WCB applies a rating schedule (Alberta Permanent Clinical Impairment Guidelines) to determine the percentage of permanent impairment, and by extension, the corresponding financial award. In other words, once the PCI rating is established, your case manager translates the percentage into a NELP payment. And as you’ve learned, the financial awards are usually quite nominal.
If your NELP doesn’t fairly reflect that deterioration in your post-accident quality of life, you certainly have the right to file an appeal. You’ve really got nothing to lose. But conversely, neither is there much to gain, as you might only receive an extra thousand or two should you prevail in the appeal process.
So I’ll let you decide whether the headache of filing an appeal, more doctor’s appts, etc, would really be worth the time and effort given the marginal potential reward.
The final word
The above notwithstanding, if the disability has in any plausible way reduced your earnings capacity, that’s a different story entirely. A loss of earnings capacity is almost always worth pursuing to the fullest extent. Certainly give us a call if the finger injury has diminished your income.