Loss of a body part | Workers’ Compensation Act
Specific Loss for the loss of a body part under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act
Can I, under the Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act, obtain additional money for a work related scar or disfigurement and compensation for a specific loss of a specific body part?
Answer: Yes, a Pennsylvania injured worker can obtain payment for scarring/disfigurement and a specific loss of a body part.
In the case of City of Philadelphia v. WCAB (Siravo) 789 A.2nd 410, a case in which the Claimant was awarded a specific loss for an injury of July 3, 1987, under Section 306(C)(7) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. On February 9, 1988, or approximately 7 months later, Claimant filed a petition seeking disfigurement for benefits for his right eye, the same injured eye covered by the prior specific loss award. It was held that under Section 306 (C)(22) the Claimant was permanently disfigured of a type not usually incident to employment and circulated a Decision granting Claimant’s petition for disfigurement benefits.
Section 306(C)(22) states that awards can be made “for serious and permanent disfigurement of the head, neck, or face of such a character as to produce an unsightly appearance, and such is not usually incident to employment, 66-2/3% of the wages not to exceed 275 weeks.
This award was appealed by the Defendant based on the argued that the disfigurement claim, was encompassed or included with the specific loss previously awarded in 1987. In support of its position, the Defense cited a 1938 case finding that specific loss and disfigurement could not coexist. In the Shiravo case, the Court held that recent cases had moved away from the 1938 Brown case. In so doing, the court relied upon the widely accepted statement that “provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act are remedial in nature and are to be liberally construed with borderline interpretations resolved in favor of the injured employee.” (See Turner v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp., 389 A.2d 42 (1978). Shiravo further went on to quote from the Statutory Construction Act that for purposes of disfigurement, the eye was part of the face. As such, the Court ruled that there was an entitlement in limited circumstances to get both a scarring and a disfigurement claim out of the same injury without constituting a “double recovery.”
If you have questions about specific loss under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, call our office at 717-238-1657 for a free evaluation.