Alabama still seen as worst state for loss of limb compensation

Catastrophe, like beauty, might be said to be in the eye of the beholder. A pianist might think the loss of a finger or hand as the worst thing that could happen. A runner might say the loss of a leg would be the end of all hopes and dreams.

The one thing that binds all who have suffered catastrophic injury together, whether they are in Alabama or somewhere else, is that the damage they have endured has created a level of hardship for them and for their families. It’s a challenge that can’t be overcome with a slight tweak in normal routines. Simple tasks are difficult. Emotions can be stretched thin. The difficulties can last for years.

The loss of a limb is certainly among those things that count as a catastrophic injury. If a person should lose an appendage in a work accident, one would think there would be some sort of common table from which compensation could be established and paid out. But that isn’t how things work.

As a ProPublica report last year noted, what a person can expect to get for disabling loss of limb depends a lot on the state in which the accident occurred. For example, a worker who loses an arm in Georgia might expect to receive a good deal more than a worker who suffers a similar loss due to work accident in Alabama. It all has to do with the way workers’ compensation is structured in a given state.

Alabama came out low on the roster of states in that report a year ago and things haven’t gotten much better since. A bill to improve the situation did get introduced in the State Senate last year but it died in committee.

Last month, WAFF-TV reported another attempt is being made in Senate Bill 122. Analysts say the bill doesn’t make significant changes. Supporters say they hope it might be enough to get a conversation on reform started. Critics express doubt that anything will change.

What do you think?