Specific-Loss Benefits: Loss Of Use Must Be Permanent

One of the types of benefits available to injured Pennsylvania workers is a “specific loss” benefit. This is available when a worker loses the use of a body part for “all practice, intents and purposes.”  In a recent case, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania addressed the requirements for proving the “specific loss” of a body part.

Specific loss benefits are available for amputations or injuries resulting in the permanent “loss of use” of a certain body part “for all practical intents and purposes.” This means that the loss is more severe than one that would allow the injured worker to use the injured body part on the job and does not mean that the body part is useless for all functions and use. The determination of “loss of use” is a question of fact for a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ).

In Morocho v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Home Equity Renovations, Inc.), while using a saw, the worker injured his thumb, index, and middle fingers. The worker then filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking, among other relief, a specific loss of the index finger.

The treating physician’s report stated that the injured worker “has effectively lost function of the index finger at this time for all intents and purposes.”  In contrast, the doctor for the employer’s insurance carrier believed there was no loss of use. The WCJ found for the worker-claimant and awarded specific loss benefits for the loss of the index finger.

On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) reversed the decision of the WCJ, stating that while the injured worker demonstrated the permanence of the injury, he failed to prove the permanence of the loss of use or function of the index finger, and, therefore, was missing a necessary component of his burden of proof. While the injured worker claimed that bone loss and necrosis were both evident in the finger, supporting the fact that the injury was permanent, the Court was unconvinced that a permanent loss of function was established.

Proving eligibility for specific-loss benefits generally requires the guidance and assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, like one of the many at Powell Law. For 111 years, our attorneys have represented all types of workers in workers’ compensation cases. Our decades of experience make us the clear and obvious choice for representation in workers’ compensation matters in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. At Powell Law, we effectively assist clients throughout the entire workers’ compensation claims process. Consult an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE!

Specific-Loss Benefits: Loss Of Use Must Be Permanent

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