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Permanent Loss of Function, Scarring & Disfigurement Benefits

In some workplace accidents, an employee is not only injured but also suffers permanent loss of function, disfigurement, or scarring. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 36, an injured employee may be entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits due to such disfigurement or scarring.

How to qualify for Section 36 workers’ compensation benefits:

If a worker is injured on the job and suffers a permanent loss of certain bodily functions or is scarred or disfigured on his or her hands, neck or face, he or she may qualify for additional benefits.

What are the additional benefits?

Benefits for permanent loss of function, scarring and disfigurement, are made in the form a one-time payment in addition to any payments for medical expenses and lost wages.

As the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Boston at the Law Offices of Jeffery S. Glassman, LLC can explain, the law provides a list of specific injuries that qualify under this statute.

Enucleation (surgical removal of an eye that leaves eye muscles and orbital contacts intact) or other loss of use of an eye, or an injury to a single eye that results in a loss of binocular vision that is not correctable to 20/70 normal vision in that eye. The complicated formula for calculating benefits for Enucleation provides a total equal to the worker’s average weekly wage multiplied by 39.

Loss of hearing in one ear, benefits are calculated as the average weekly in Massachusetts multiplied by 29. If there is hearing loss in both ears, the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) at the date of the injuries is multiplied by 77.

For amputation or total loss of use of dominant arm, benefits are calculated as being equal to the SAWW in Massachusetts multiplied by 43. If the injury is to a non-dominant arm, the SAWW is multiplied by a factor of 39. If both arms are lost in a workplace accident, the SAWW at the time of the accident is multiplied by 96.

Amputation or permanent complete loss of the use of the dominant hand at the wrist, benefits are calculated as a sum equal to SAWW in Massachusetts at the date of the amputation multiplied by 34. For amputation of non-dominant hand the SAWW is multiplied by 39. For both hands SAWW is multiplied by 77.

This is just a partial list of specific injuries outlined in Massachusetts law, but it demonstrates the complexity of these types of cases. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) recommends all claimants to speak with an attorney who regularly handles workers’ compensation cases to assist with the process. Many workers’ compensation cases that involve permanent disfigurement or scarring require the parties to go through a conciliation process before a conciliator provided by EOLWD.

Claimants who are unrepresented and not familiar with the complex regulations are at a serious disadvantage because employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will provide an attorney to defend a decision to deny benefits at every step in the process, and that defense attorney will be familiar with the system.

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