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Understanding Scarring Awards in Connecticut Workers' Compensation

Posted by James Aspell | Jan 03, 2024 | 0 Comments

Introduction to Connecticut Workers' Compensation and Scarring Awards

Workers' compensation in Connecticut provides crucial benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Among these benefits are scarring awards, designed to compensate for the physical and psychological impact of visible scars resulting from workplace accidents. This article delves into the intricacies of scarring awards in the Connecticut workers' compensation system, offering comprehensive insights for employees seeking to understand their rights and entitlements.

What Are Scarring Awards?

Scarring awards are financial compensations granted to employees who have sustained permanent, visible scars due to workplace injuries. Unlike other workers' compensation benefits, which cover medical expenses or lost wages, scarring awards specifically address the non-economic damages like physical disfigurement and psychological distress.  Since 1995, scarring awards in Connecticut have been limited to scars on the face or scars that hinder an injured claimant's ability to work.

Criteria for Scarring Awards in Connecticut

To qualify for a scarring award in Connecticut, an employee must demonstrate that the scar is:

  • Directly caused by a workplace injury or surgical procedure related to it.
  • Permanent and visible when wearing normal work attire.
  • Not solely a cosmetic concern but also impacts the employee's life.

The Legal Framework Governing Scarring Awards

Connecticut's workers' compensation law Section 31-308 establish the guidelines for scarring awards. The amount and eligibility criteria are subject to legislative changes and interpretations by workers' compensation commissioners. 

Connecticut's workers' compensation law restricts scarring awards to permanent, significant scars or disfigurements on (1) the face, head, or neck or (2) any other body part if it affects a claimant's employability. Workers must file claims for scarring awards within two years after the injury or surgery date. Commissioners must wait at least one year from the injury or surgery date before evaluating a scar.

Understanding the Claim Process

The claim process for a scarring award involves:

  1. Medical evaluation to ascertain the permanence and visibility of the scar.
  2. Documentation, including photographs and physician statements.
  3. Filing a claim with the employer's workers' compensation insurer.

Time Limits for Scarring Claims

Connecticut law stipulates a time frame within which scarring claims must be filed. Employees generally have one to two years from the date of injury or surgery to make a claim.

Calculating Scarring Awards

The calculation of scarring awards in Connecticut takes into account several factors:

  • The size and location of the scar.
  • The nature of the scar (e.g., burn, surgical).
  • The age and gender of the employee.

Impact of Scarring on Employment and Life

Scarring can have a profound impact on an individual's employment opportunities and social interactions. Awards are intended to compensate for these less tangible effects.

Case Studies: Scarring Awards in Action

Analyzing past cases helps in understanding how scarring awards are determined in Connecticut. These cases highlight the variability in awards based on individual circumstances.

Factors Influencing Award Amounts

Case studies reveal that award amounts can vary significantly, influenced by factors like:

  • The scar's visibility and disfigurement level.
  • The employee's job role and the impact on their career.

Challenges in Pursuing Scarring Awards

Navigating the workers' compensation system for scarring awards can be complex. Challenges include proving the scar's permanence, navigating legal procedures, and dealing with insurance companies.

Overcoming These Challenges

Strategies to overcome these challenges include:

  • Seeking legal advice from experienced workers' compensation attorneys.
  • Gathering comprehensive medical and photographic evidence.
  • Understanding your rights and the insurer's obligations.

Conclusion: Maximizing Your Scarring Award Claim

To maximize a scarring award claim in Connecticut, it's essential to:

  • Understand the legal framework and eligibility criteria.
  • Compile thorough and convincing evidence.
  • Seek professional legal guidance to navigate the claim process effectively.

FAQs

Q1: Can I claim a scarring award for a scar that is not visible in normal clothing? A1: No, in Connecticut, scarring awards are generally limited to scars visible in normal work attire.

Q2: How long do I have to file a scarring claim in Connecticut? A2: The time frame is usually one to two years from the date of injury or surgery, but specific cases may vary.

Q3: Are scarring awards taxable in Connecticut? A3: Workers' compensation benefits, including scarring awards, are typically not taxable at the state or federal level.

Q4: Can I appeal if my scarring award claim is denied? A4: Yes, you have the right to appeal a denied claim through the Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission.

Q5: Is the size of the scar the only factor determining the award amount? A5: No, factors such as the scar's location, visibility, and impact on employment also play significant roles in determining the award amount.

 
 
 

About the Author

James Aspell

Principal since August 1, 2006 James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...

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