Barkan Meizlish , May 19, 2015
Losing the use of a body part, no matter how big or small can have a great impact on a person’s life. In order to compensate a claimant for such scheduled losses, R.C. 4123.57(B) assigns specific values depending on the extent of the injury. For example, the loss of the third or distal phalange of any finger is considered equal to the loss of one-third of a finger, but the loss of the middle or second phalange of any finger is considered equal to the loss of two-thirds of the finger.
When the statute was originally written, amputation was the only compensable loss. State ex rel. Meissner v. Indus. Comm., 94 Ohio St. 3d 203, 205 N.E.2d 618 (2002). Later, the rule evolved to recognize the loss of use of a body part without amputation where an injury involved paraplegia. State ex rel. Kroger Co. v. Johnson, 128 Ohio St.3d 243, 2011-Ohio-530, 943 N.E.2d 541, ¶ 10. Finally, in State ex rel. Alcoa Bldg. Prods. V. Indus. Comm., 102 Ohio St.3d 341, 2004-Ohio-3166, 810 N.E.2d 946, the court held that a claimant may qualify for loss of total use when the body part retains some residual function if the claimant can demonstrate a total loss of use for all practical purposes with medical evidence. Id.
Recently in State ex rel. Varney v. Indus. Comm. Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-5510, the Ohio Supreme Court denied an injured worker’s claim for total loss of use of three fingers, as 50% loss of use of the hand had previously been awarded. Moreover, a physician opined that there was some residual functional use of the fingers. Thus, unless there is medical evidence that there has been a total loss for all practical purposes, the scheduled loss in R.C. 4123.57(B) will not apply.
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