Prosthetic Limbs, Disability & Workers’ Compensation- How Things Factor In

Apr 1, 2015 | WC & Other Laws

Hugh Herr lost both his legs to amputation following a mountain climbing injury when he was just 17 years old. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, Herr now walks with prosthetic limbs and has been quoted saying the idea of physical disability will either be completely eliminated or changed beyond recognition within the next few decades. This is good news for disability lawyers who work hard to meet their clients’ needs when a person is disabled and seek help to receive the reimbursement to which he or she is entitled.

However, prosthetic limbs present a thorny problem for those same disability attorneys. If a prosthetic limb is damaged, is it considered a personal injury or an injury to property? The best prosthetics mimic limbs in a number of interesting and functional ways. People who had limbs amputated can move a prosthetic as easily and naturally as they could a natural limb. Microprocessors receive instructions from electrical signals from muscles above the prosthetic. Newer prosthetics will allow for both mental direction of the prosthetic and provide sensory feedback to the user the same way those with natural limbs receive sensory feedback.

Related: Pre-existing Condition and Job Loss

Early cases that have to do with this issue would hint that precedence provides that prosthetics are considered property. Denver disability lawyers may beg to differ with the advances in technology. After all, if a prosthetic limb provides the same kind of sensation as a natural limb, how can injury to the prosthetic be considered anything but a personal injury? There is some hope in the case law, however, as earlier rulings have thrown out prosthetics to qualify for workers’ compensation because the prosthetics are static and inanimate objects. There may be hope yet for users of prosthetic limbs filing workers’ compensation claims in the future.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact our Denver & Greeley Workers’ Compensation Attorneys here or call us at 303-780-7329 for your free consultation.