Cosmetic Surgery Is Part Of Award For Future Medical

An appellate court has determined that in a case where the future treatment appears to be cosmetic in nature, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) must make an award of future medical care.

The applicant was working inside a tank he was repairing. Another employee was welding an ignited a fireball inside the tank, severely burning the applicant. The applicant suffered significant burns which required skin grafting. The applicant underwent multiple surgeries.

At the hearing the applicant testified that the burns covered most of his body. He testified the burn areas itch.  The areas were intensified with exposure to sunlight. The burns to his face still caused pain. The accident weakened his arms. He could no longer due repetitive lifting with his arms due to weakness.

The applicant had to wear long sleeves to protect his arms from exposure to the sunlight. He had to avoid moisture near the burn areas. Dust, heat, cold, and humid temperatures all exacerbated the condition. The burns on his back caused back pain if he sits for more man one hour. The bums on his knees made him unable to crawl, kneel or squat.

The applicant testified that the physicians have not indicated further surgery because there is nothing more they can do. The applicant testified that if he were offered further surgery that would help him, he would have the surgery.

The applicant submitted four reports from different physicians which in essence stated he should have reconstructive surgery.

The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) found the applicant 65.5 percent disabled. The WCJ did not award future medical treatment. The WCJ’s reasoning was that the applicant had not had any surgery in the five years proceeding the hearing. It was the opinion of the WCJ that cosmetic surgery would not relieve the applicant from the effects of the injury and should therefore not be awarded.  The applicant filed a petition for reconsideration. The WCAB upheld the WCJ.

The appellate court followed another decision stating “the purpose of any surgical attempt in connection with an injury received by an employee is to restore him to as nearly a natural and normal condition as may be possible…The evident purpose of some of the surgical operations on the employee is to give him a more presentable personal appearance.” The court reasoned that the cosmetic surgery may help the applicant to secure -future employment in the open labor market. The surgery may also effect the applicants morale and self-respect which would help in the.  rehabilitation process.

This court found the need for cosmetic surgery as part of the need for future medical care.

Case: Cano V. W.C.A.B.

Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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