Dental Loss, Disfigurement, Scarring
Loss of Teeth or Tooth and Disfigurement or Scarring under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act
Question: Under the Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act, can I get any additional money or compensation for having my teeth knocked out in the course and scope of my employment?
Answer: Yes, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, you can collect money separate and apart for a disfigurement for the loss of your teeth or tooth. In the case of School District of Philadelphia v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Gardiner), 511 2d. 947 (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct. 1986), a Claimant was attacked and lost four front teeth. She was later given a prosthetic bridge to wear to compensate for loss of those teeth. A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge viewed her with and without the bridgework and found that the loss of the teeth “detrimentally affected the Claimant’s overall appearance.” The insurance company appealed the case to the Worker’s Compensation Appeal Board and finally up to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. The Commonwealth Court found “the previous appearance of the teeth as a whole as part of the head and face is a matter that is proper for the fact finder to consider……the presence of the bridge prosthesis does not eliminate the Claimant’s disfigurement altogether. Instead it diminishes the affect. (Gardiner at pages 948-949). In a follow-up case, Agnello v. WCAB (Owens-Illinois) 907 A.2d 676, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court extended Gardiner to find that the use of dentures or partials should not be considered in determining whether or not a disfigurement occurred. The Court found that it was proper to review the claim with and without dentures “because they do not resolve a disfigurement, only mask it.”
The Commonwealth Court further held that “when reviewing disfigurement cases involving teeth, the workers’ compensation judge needs to evaluate the claimant without his or her prosthesis. Only then can a worker’s compensation judge get a true idea of the damage that has been done and the “unsightly appearance that the Claimant must face on a daily basis.” This case was a claim for disfigurement, although other cases have held that you can have both a disfigurement and a specific loss. See City of Philadelphia v. WCAB. (Siravo), 789 A.2d 410.
If you have questions about loss of a tooth or teeth and disfigurement under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, call our office at 717-238-1657 to speak with an Experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney.