The New York Appellate Division, 2nd Department, last week issued a signed opinion clarifying the meaning of “grave injury” under New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law �11 for accidents involving index fingers. A unanimous panel of the court affirmed a lower court ruling that allowed construction worker Wilfredo A. Castillo to sue his employer for a table saw accident. The accident left Castillo with a painful amputation stump, but his employer, 3-D Laboratory Inc., argued that the stump precluded a finding that Castillo had lost his index finger as defined by the law.

A lower court sided with Castillo, and the 2nd Department affirmed in a ruling by Justice Gloria Goldstein. While the Court of Appeals has said that the word “finger” means the whole finger and not the tip (see Castro v. United Container Mach. Group, 96 NY2d 398), Goldstein said the loss of more than two phalanges constitutes the loss of a finger. Castillo lost both interphalangeal joints in the accident.

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