Case name: State of Ohio ex rel. Smith v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, No. 11AP-61 (Ohio Ct. App. 03/13/12).
The Ohio Court of Appeals held that an employee was entitled to a new adjudication of his requests for scheduled loss awards for a total loss of vision and hearing.
What it means: In Ohio, clinical data showing a loss of 100 percent is not required for an award of scheduled loss benefits for a total loss of vision or hearing.
Summary: A worker sustained a work-related injury. During surgery for the allowed condition, he suffered a brain injury. Claims were allowed for bilateral inguinal hernia, anoxic brain damage, and seizure disorder. He received permanent total disability benefits and scheduled loss of use awards for his legs and arms. The worker was left in a persistent vegetative state. He sought schedule loss of use awards for the loss of hearing in both ears and vision in both eyes. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that the worker was entitled to a new adjudication of his claim because an incorrect standard was used.
The court explained that the proof necessary to show a total loss of vision or hearing is "somewhat flexible." The court said that scheduled loss benefits for a total loss of vision or hearing can be awarded where the medical evidence considered the practical application of clinical or other data showing a loss of 100 percent or less.
One doctor said that the worker's hearing and vision could not be tested due to his inability to respond to external stimuli. However, the doctor opined that the worker lost visual and auditory "function" because his brain could not process the signals his eyes and ears received. The court concluded that the doctor's report constituted some evidence of a total loss of vision and hearing that should be considered.
The court said another doctor's report should be clarified since he concluded that the worker did not suffer a total loss of vision and hearing because no reliable test existed to determine "definite vision and hearing loss."
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May 10, 2012
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