By: Christopher M. Fox, Esquire
Getting injured on the job can have lasting impacts on a worker’s life, and in some cases injuries can lead to permanent disfigurement of the body. In the state of Pennsylvania, the Workers’ Compensation Act states that certain scars and disfigurements caused by a work injury can be eligible for compensation depending location, unsightliness, and permanency. Here’s what you need to know if you have suffered from a work injury that resulted in any kind of scar or disfigurement:
1. There are different categories of compensable scars resulting from injury
The first category includes scars or disfigurement directly caused by the injury, such as a lacerations or burns. The second includes scars caused by a surgery that is needed to repair the damage of a work injury; both categories of scars are equally compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
2. The location of the scar must be on the injured workers’ neck, head or face
The disfigurement must be prominently visible on the injured worker’s body in order to be compensable. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act of Pennsylvania, the scar has to be located above the collarbone. Scars located in areas like hands or forearms are not compensable.
3. The scar must be deemed unsightly
The “unsightliness” of the scar is subjective to the judge of the case, but certain indicators of compensation amount may be if the scar is jagged or linear, the size of the disfigurement, the noticeability, and whether the scar is directly on the face. The age of the worker may also contribute to the compensation amount, since the judge may deem a younger worker to be more affected by an unsightly scar.
4. Disfigurement has to be permanent
In order to be considered for compensation, the worker must have had their scar for 6 months to a year without it fading away or substantially improving.
5. There is a limit to how much compensation you can receive
The maximum compensation rate is $995 per week for 2017, and the maximum number of weeks a judge may award for a scar is 275 weeks. Thus, the most unsightly scar on a maximum compensation rate for an injured worker would be eligible for $273,000 total. Since scar awards are calculated in terms of weeks of benefits, and the weekly rate is determined by the injured workers’ pre-injury average weekly wage, a higher wage earner will receive higher compensation for their scars.
6. Scars leave an emotional impact, too
Injuries that leave a worker disfigured can also have a deep emotional impact. A disfiguring scar may also result in a compensable psychological injury.
7. Documentation is key
The best way to prove the severity and permanency of your scar is to take pictures every month of your recovery. If you can prove to the judge that your scar has remained permanent and unsightly, then you are more likely to be eligible for a disfigurement award. You should include a picture of yourself before receiving the scar, and one after, to show the impact. The pictures should be from a conversational length since it will prove that your scar is visible even from further distances instead of just close up.
8. You’re not alone
It is not easy going through the recovery process of a work injury. We are here to help you with your case every step of the way.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a work injury that resulted in scars or disfigurement, don’t delay. Fill out the contact form below for a free case evaluation.