Corrected eyesight serves as baseline for determining total vision loss
State of Ohio ex rel. Lay-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, No. 08AP-827 (Ohio Ct. App. 09/03/09).
The Ohio Court of Appeals awarded compensation benefits to the worker for total loss of eyesight in his left eye, holding that the proper baseline for determining the worker's vision loss was his preinjury visual acuity after a corneal transplant.
What it means: In Ohio, a magistrate may use a worker's corrected preinjury visual acuity as the baseline for determining vision loss after an industrial injury. To not allow the worker to account for his corrected vision would mean the worker's impaired and uncorrected condition would defeat the worker's claim that he lost vision as a result of the industrial accident.
A Lay-Z-Boy worker underwent a corneal transplant to correct a nonwork-related condition. Although his previous vision was 20/200, his vision after the surgery was 20/50. He later suffered an on-the-job injury when a cardboard box struck his eye, resulting in 20/200 vision in the same eye. He underwent additional surgery including a lens implant. The worker filed for compensation for total loss of vision in his left eye. Lay-Z-Boy argued that the worker's vision prior to the first surgery was 20/200, and his vision after the injury was 20/200, and that therefore, the worker had not lost anything as a result of the injury. The Court of Appeals ruled that the worker had sustained a total loss of vision. It pointed out that it would be unfair to allow a loss of vision award to an injured worker who had a "natural" functioning eye prior to an injury, but not to an individual who has a functioning eye as a result of medical restoration.
The court pointed out that compensation is awarded for the loss of a body part or body function resulting from the work injury. Since the worker had a functioning left eye prior to the injury, there was no need to differentiate between a natural-functioning eye and one that has been repaired by surgery. The court further reasoned a magistrate's modification in assigning the worker a 75 percent impairment was arbitrary, as the court explained it could not discern how the magistrate had arrived at that number.
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October 5, 2009
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