On September 14, 2006, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in the case of Agnello vs. WCAB ruled that an injured worker suffered “permanent disfigurement” when dentures were required to replace three teeth she lost in a work-related injury, holding that the dentures MASKED, rather than resolved, the harm to her appearance.
In reaching this decision, the Court held that “disfigurement” benefits were appropriate noting that
“when the Claimant removed her denture, she proved that her disfigurement was serious and permanent and resulted in an unsightly appearance, and she was entitled to an award.”
The Commonwealth Cort has remanded to a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) for a determination as to the amount of benefits payable.
The Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act allows benefits for disfigurement of the head, neck or face, if the disfigurement is:
(3) unsightly and
(4) not usually incident to the employment.
A WCJ will make a legal determination as to whether the disfigurement meets the four factors indicated above. The WCJ will then view the disfigurement at a hearing and place a value on the disfigurement based on a number of weeks. The maximum award for disfigurement is 275 weeks of benefits. The more “disfiguring” the scar, discoloration, loss of teeth, etc., the greater the number of weeks of benefits that will be awarded. Once the Judge determines the number of weeks, that number is mutiplied by the injured workers’ weekly compensation rate.
Generally speaking, disfigurement benefits typically involve a scar or skin discoloration resulting from a work-related injury. The Agnello decision has extended this doctrine to include a loss of teeth that required the worker to secure dentures.
It’s important to note that disfigurement benefits may be payable over and above workers’ compensation benefits payable for a physical injury. It’s also important to know your rights when you suffer a work injury. Call us at DLP and we’ll be sure to give you sound advice as to what benefits may be payable to you. If you have any questions, call me at (570) 347-1011 or email me at email@example.com
Thomas P. Cummings, Esq