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Are an arm and a leg really worth 'an arm and a leg?'

When considering how much something costs, we might say an expensive item is worth an arm and a leg. When it comes to workers' compensation, insurance companies and lawmakers actually work to determine the cost of an arm and a leg.

As grotesque as it might seem, knowing the potential amount of compensation for an injury on the job can bring some clarity to your case. While the total amount of compensation received differs on a case-by-case basis, the study published in Crain's Chicago Business coincides with a proposed 4.7 percent decrease in Iowa workers' compensation premiums.

A decrease in rates signals a decline in injuries

The lowered rates would apply to businesses that pay for workers' comp insurance. It is not to say that an Iowa worker would automatically earn less in compensation if he or she were injured on the job.

The lower premium rate for Iowa employers is likely a sign that Iowa workers, on the whole, are safer compared to employees in other states. Iowa employers pay $1.86 per $100 in payroll to insurance premiums, which is lower than in the neighboring states of Illinois and Wisconsin.

A phalange for your thoughts

The amount you receive in compensation could depend on what limb is injured. According to Chicago Business, losing a toe means more than $18,000 in compensation. The most costly limb is an arm at nearly half a million dollars in combined insurance costs and worker benefits.

Some states have limited the maximum amount of benefits for certain injuries. However, this practice has been deemed "counterproductive" by the U.S. Department of Labor because it leaves some workers at risk of poverty if they are not adequately compensated for the permanent loss of income due to an injury.

Don't let the system work against you

The rate of compensation for injured Iowa workers has remained largely the same since 2002. That same year, Iowa law raised the payments for funerals, but one year later reduced liability to severely disabled workers for insurers and employers.

The law can complicate the process, but it should not dissuade you from pursuing a claim against an employer. A work-related injury shouldn't cost your lifelong livelihood. If you are injured on the job, you deserve the help of an attorney who understands both the physical and financial pain you may experience.

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