We received a call from a nice woman who unfortunately received many stitches from a cut on the job. Her question was whether or not she would be entitled to any compensation. The laceration happened two weeks before she called us.

The answer to that question is it depends. We need her to wait six months to see if there is a scar there at that time. If it is, she would be entitled to some sort of compensation depending on how bad the scar is. It’s completely subjective and the value would be based on how big it is, where it’s located (scars on the face are worth more), whether or not it’s raised, the color and anything else about the appearance.

When we can’t agree with an insurance company what a scar is worth, we typically just bring the client before the Arbitrator and get their opinion because they don’t need any other evidence other than to look at the client. And if the Arbitrator offers you an opinion it would usually be dumb not to take it when it comes to a scar case. That said, we do, when appropriate, present the Arbitrator with past decisions that we think should influence his/her findings.

The only time a scar doesn’t have any value is when it’s above the knee or below the breast line. The theory is that these areas are usually covered so the scar shouldn’t cause any harm. I totally disagree with that line of thinking, but that is what the law says. However, if you have a scar in those areas, most of the time we can get some compensation for you under a permanency theory.

Finally, I once had a caller ask if they could get plastic surgery to reduce the appearance of an ugly face scar. My opinion is that if a doctor deems it medically necessary and it stems from a work accident, then you should be able to make the insurance company pay for it.

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By Michael Helfand