Workers’ compensation is a very specific area of the law. This is true not only in Pennsylvania, but in each state’s work comp system.
It should scarcely be surprising, then, that workers’ compensation law contains a concept known as “specific loss.” The term refers to loss claims for particular parts of the body, such as the loss of an arm or leg.
The law assigns given monetary values to each of these specific losses. In the case of disfiguring injuries, however, judges have considerable discretion in assigning a monetary value.
In a recent Pennsylvania case, Walker v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, a woman was injured when she fell down at work. The principal injury was damage to her nose, which left it crooked. She also sustained various bruises.
The workers filed a workers’ compensation claim, contending that she had disfigurement. After she was awarded 45 weeks of benefits as compensation, both the worker and the employer appealed. The worker wanted more benefits and the employer wanted less.
The workers’ compensation appeals board reversed the award. The board found that a slight crookedness on one side of her nose did not constitute a disfigurement and was therefore not eligible for compensation.
The worker appealed this decision to the court system. The court agreed with the appeals board, however, that a slightly crooked nose does not qualify as a disfigurement.
The case does not settle once and for all what constitutes a disfigurement under Pennsylvania law. But it should be kept in mind when evaluating what level of compensation to seek for a scar or slight disfigurement.
Source: “Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Case Update,” Claims Journal, Denise Johnson, 7-30-12
Our firm represents injured workers in workers’ compensation situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice in disfigurement and amputation cases, please visit our page on specific loss.