Scarring And Workers’ Compensation: Myth Vs. Truth (Part 2)

Today’s post comes from guest author Ryan Benharris from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

Last week we posted on some of the myths and truths around scarring and your workers’ compensation claim. Today we have a few more things that you should know about this important topic.

MYTH: “I have to wait several years before I can collect payment for a scar.”

TRUTH: The law requires you to wait only six (6) months before you can collect payment for a scar. This is considered ample time for the scarring to be considered at maximum medical improvement. Never, ever wait to report a cut or burn to your employer. Even if you are able to continue working, you should tell your boss immediately about the injury. You should seek representation as soon as possible as well.

MYTH: “It’s just a cut. It’s not that bad. I don’t need professional medical treatment.”

TRUTH: Cuts and burns, if left unattended, can lead to serious medical conditions. We recently had a client who worked in the food service industry. He waited several weeks after he cut his hand with a knife to seek professional medical attention at a local hospital. Initially he thought that the cut would heal on its own if he treated it with antibiotic ointment and bandages. After several weeks of the cut not healing, he finally sought medical attention at his local emergency room. The hospital immediately referred him out for an evaluation with a hand surgeon as an infection had spread in the cut and the wound became gangrenous. The reality is that if the injured worker had sought medical attention immediately, his situation would likely not have turned as grave.

Scarring and disfigurement is a very important part of the Worker’s Compensation Statute. A scar is almost always a permanent reminder of an injury sustained at work. Your boss won’t have to live the rest of his or her walking around showing others a constant reminder of what happened; you will. You have an absolute right to be compensated for the physical damage it caused. It’s hardly a souvenir.


Scarring And Workers’ Compensation: Myth Vs. Truth

Today’s post comes from guest author Ryan Benharris from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

It might be mighty cheesy to dispense legal advice by citing a bad, sappy love ballad from 90’s alternative rock; but the Goo Goo Dolls put it perfectly when they said, “Scars are souvenirs you never lose.” In the case of scars, burns or disfigurements that resulted from a work injury, a scar is a souvenir (courtesy of your employer) that you never lose, that you also never wanted.
Very often, clients are confused about the laws governing scarring, disfigurement in the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation system. Here is a brief list of some of the truths and myths about scarring, loss of function and disfigurement.

MYTH: “I can be paid for my scar regardless of where it is on my body.”

TRUTH: The insurer must compensate you for a scar; but only for a scar that appears on your hands, neck or face. Any scar that is visible to your hands neck or face is compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Statute. Section 36 of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Statute is the section that governs compensable scars and disfigurements. Burns and other types of visible disfigurements are also covered under this section. A visible walking-limp is also a type of compensable disfigurement under this section.

MYTH: “In order to receive money for my disfigurement, I needed to have lost significant time at work.”

TRUTH: You do not have to have missed work in order to receive payment for compensable scars. In fact, the vast majority of claimants seeking payments for scarring have not missed any significant time (or any time at all) as a result of their scar. This is particularly true with claimants who work in the food preparation industry. Cuts and burns are the most common injury in those types of jobs. If you cut or burned yourself while working in a kitchen, you do not have to have missed any time at work to receive payments for the lasting disfigurement.

MYTH: “My scar needs to meet a certain minimum length in order to be compensable.”

TRUTH:  All scars, regardless of length, are compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Statute. As long as the scar is on your hands, neck or face it will be measured and calculated to determine how much your payment will be. Also, you can be compensated for every scar you receive to a compensable part of your body in one injury. Multiple scars are all collectively compensable.
Check back next week for part two in this series on scarring, disfigurement, and Massachusetts law.