When a worker fractured her nose, she was paid workers’ comp for surgery which repaired the fracture and alleviated her pain. However, for almost a year now, she has been claiming additional benefits for disfigurement. Should the court award her more workers’ comp benefits?
The claimant, identified as Rhonda Walker fell down stairs at work and broke her nose. After undertaking one round of nasal surgery, she was allowed to return to work without restrictions. However, on the day she returned to work, she submitted one week’s notice. In her resignation letter, she did not state the reason why she was leaving.
Two months later she had nasal surgery for the second time.
This time, Walker asked for her workers’ comp to be reinstated for two reasons: permanent disfigurement of her nose, and that she had also suffered neck, back and shoulder injuries.
According to the medical records from the first doctor to treat, Walker made no mention of any back or neck injuries. A workers’ comp judge did not allow the request for extra benefits for those injuries saying that Walker’s testimony wasn’t credible.
But the matter about her nose proved to be a bit more complicated.
In Pennsylvania, workers’ comp law awards certain amounts for disfigurement. In the case of an injury to the head, neck or face, not every claimed is compensable. However, a scar or alteration of the head that is causing an unsightly appearance, according to the state’s law, make claimant eligible for workers’ comp.
At first, the judge who first head the didn’t see an unsightly appearance so the judge requested a photograph before and after the accident. Walker pointed out that she had two scars on her nose and the end of her nose has become crooked due to her fall.
Although the judge was not able to see any scars, based on the photos, he awarded Walker 45 weeks of disfigurement benefits due to the crooked nose.
The company appealed to the Workers’ Comp Board (WCB), they saw Walker in person and found that her nose had a slight crookedness but the crookedness was not noticeably disfiguring and therefore not compensable.
Although Walker appealed and ask that the original opinion ne reinstated, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the WCB’s decision. It stated that in a previous ruling, Supreme Court had specifically warned against determining unsightliness using photos because they can be manipulated.
Due to the court’s decision, Walker did not receive any disfigurement benefits for according to the court, her slightly crooked nose didn’t rise to the level of “an unsightly appearance.
If you or a loved has suffered due to negligence you may wish to consult with experienced Personal Injury Lawyers. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It is always beneficial to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident to avoid crucial evidence about your being lost.