Ohio: Court Reverses Award For Facial Disfigurement Where Commission’s Findings Were Inadequate Under Statute

An Ohio appellate court recently reversed an award by the state’s Industrial Commission that allowed a claimant $4,000 of additional compensation for facial disfigurement under Ohio Rev. Code § 4123.57(B), finding that the required findings as to seriousness and future impairment of employment opportunity had not been made [see State ex rel. Ford Motor Co. v. Industrial Comm’n (Ganelli), 2013 Ohio 2310, 2013 Ohio App. LEXIS 2220 (June 4, 2013)].  

The claimant sustained a laceration to his face and jaw while at work. He sought an additional award for his facial disfigurement. Acknowledging that claimant had, among other things, residual numbness and some difficulty chewing related to the laceration to his face, the court indicated the Commission failed to make the required findings that the claimant’s facial disfigurement was serious and that the disfigurement either impaired or might impair in the future the claimant’s opportunities to secure or retain employment. Because the Commission never made these findings, it was impossible to determine whether the $ 4,000 awarded was proper and equitable in view of the nature of the disfigurement.

The statute requires that two findings be made before the commission grants an award of compensation: (1) a claimant’s injury must result in serious facial or head disfigurement, and (2) the disfigurement must be of such a nature that impairs, or may in the future impair, the claimant’s opportunities to secure or retain employment. If the above conditions are met, an award up to $10,000 may be granted to a claimant as is deemed proper and equitable.

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