Depending on the type of injury you sustain at your job, you may be left with scars as an eternal reminder of what happened. Depending on the severity and placement of those scars, you may qualify for reimbursement for them through workers' compensation insurance. Here's what you need to know to file a successful claim.
There are a few factors that influence whether you'll be paid for scarring and the amount of money you may receive. These include:
- Where the scar(s) appears on the body
- The size, appearance, and severity of the scarring
- How the scarring occurred
- The impact the scar(s) has on present or future employment
- The impact the scar(s) has on your quality of life
- Your gender
- Your age
One of the main things workers' compensation considers when determining whether scars are eligible for compensation is how they occurred. Scars resulting directly from the injury—like those from cuts or puncture wounds—are covered. Additionally, scars caused by treating the injuries are also covered. For instance, you could receive money for surgical scars as long as the procedure was done as part of healing or curing the injury.
However, it's also important to note that, in some states, the scarring may be lumped in with certain types of injuries. In North Carolina, for instance, a person who gets a scar as a result of losing a limb will only be compensated for the lost body part. You would not be eligible to receive a separate monetary award for the scar itself, unfortunately.
The second thing the insurance company will consider is the location of the scar. Some states only pay for scars on body parts that would be exposed to the public. For instance, you may be paid for scars on your face, neck, arms, legs, and chest but not for scars on your stomach, buttocks, breasts, or other areas that are normally covered by clothing. Other states will pay for scars regardless of where they are located, though the amount of money you receive may be less for scars in areas not normally exposed.
Workers' compensation insurance uses a couple of different schemes to reimburse workers for scars they may suffer due to the accidents they have had on the job. In some states, the scarring is factored into the long-term disability benefits awarded to the claimant. States that do this typically assign a disability rating based on reports from healthcare providers and other testimony, and scarring is one of the determinants for how much money the claimants gets. In this case, the money for your scar would be part of the monthly payments you receive for your injury.
Other states award workers a flat one-time payment based on an evaluation of the scar. The payment is given in a lump sum separate from any weekly or monthly payments the employee may receive for their injuries and other damages.
In either case, many states cap the amount of money employees can collect for scars at a maximum amount. For example, workers in Rhode Island can receive up to $45,000 for scars, while the maximum payout amount in Massachusetts is $15,000. This means that even though the court may agree the disfigurement to your body is worth $1 million, you'll only get the highest amount allowable by the laws in your state.
Getting compensated for scars is a fairly straightforward process, but you may run into some challenges along the way, especially if your scars are small or in unseen places. It's best to consult with a workers' compensation attorney, such as one from Prediletto, Halpin, Scharnikow & Nelson, P.S., for assistance with this issue to ensure you are fairly reimbursed for the pain, suffering, and damages caused by visible scars.