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Ohio Workers’ Compensation

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Is a disfigurement a disability?

Some injuries can lead to disfigurement, even when healing is complete. An example is a burn injury to the neck or above. The skin may heal and pain may cease, but the physical changes created by that burn injury may never completely return to normal. Discoloration and scar tissue may remain.

This can certainly be a struggle for those who experience these injuries. They may physically be close to what they were capable of doing before the incident, but the disfigurement could leave them feeling self-conscious and not mentally or emotionally able to work. This is especially true in professions where extensive contact with other people is a necessity, such as being a real estate agent, running a coffee shop, or working in a service industry — to name a few.

But does this mean that you are disabled? Or are you still expected to work, regardless of the lasting impact of your condition?

A complex situation

This is a complex situation that may not have clear answers. First and foremost, severe disfigurements are classified as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Act recognizes that prejudice and discrimination can happen to those with facial disfigurements, making it harder or impossible to work.

What is complex is defining exactly what is a “severe” disfigurement. Every case is unique. How do you decide if the changes are substantial enough to qualify for disability assistance or not?

Additional benefits may be an option

Victims of facial and head disfigurements face even greater challenges when they try to secure a job or remain employed. With that in mind, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) can provide additional financial help. Based on the severity of the disfigurement, victims can receive a one-time lump sum payment of up to $10,000.

Ohio’s Industrial Commission reviews the cases that should include evidence and expert testimony. As with any workers’ compensation request, the victim must prove that the disfigurement will affect their ability to secure or maintain employment beyond just the injury itself. The additional compensation does not impact other workers’ compensation that an employee would receive for an injury that left them disabled.

There’s no real way to draw hard lines in cases like this. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced legal team that will work closely with you every step of the way.

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