Tooth knocked out at work, getting the run around from workers' comp...

by Sarah

My tooth was knocked out at work with a metal rod while I was working on an expander. I went to the dentist and they gave me two choices, either a dental implant or bridge (neither would be my real teeth). I went with the bridge.

I am now having headaches everyday since the injury. I have went to two different doctors and a neurologist, and they diagnosed me with post traumatic headaches. I may have these the rest of my life. None of the treatment they are providing is helping.

They have me back to work on light duty and I haven't made it through work a day yet without getting a headache.

There are also several other problems. My claim was not reported to my company's workers' comp insurance for 30 days. All this time I thought I was covered and have been going to the Dr, and the lady over at our workers' comp department hasn't even sent it in! I thought you were only supposed to have 24 hours to report an injury?

It has since been 6 weeks and I still have not received any reimbursement for medications I have bought, mileage, nor the 18 days I was off work.

Do I have any legal rights? Would I have any ground to stand on if I was to sue? Not reporting an injury for 30 days has to be illegal. And now, even though it has been reported, I still have not received compensation.

I keep getting the run around from the WC insurance company (they say they mailed the check a week ago, etc.). Also, is there separate compensation for the loss of a tooth? That's a part of my body I will never get back. I now have 4 fake teeth in the very front. :(

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Tooth knocked out at work, getting the run around from workers' comp...":

Sara (Mississippi):

The first issue to address is your doctor's contention that your injury resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a mental health disorder triggered by a terrifying event, whether through experiencing the actual event, or witnessing it.

Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event and its aftermath.

From the facts you present, you will have a difficult time convincing an insurance company, a judge, and/or a jury that the metal rod event caused PTSD. While you may believe you are suffering from PTSD, and your doctor may have mentioned it, you will need a psychiatrist or psychologist to confirm the diagnosis.

The second issue to address is separate compensation for the loss of a tooth. The loss of a tooth is not automatically compensable as a disabling injury. For the loss of a tooth to be separately compensable requires a finding that the loss resulted not only in the discomfort you speak of, but also in permanent disfigurement.

If you are intent on pursuing a claim for disfigurement, you will likely need the assistance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. You appear to have lost 4 teeth. That gives you a legitimate foundation for a claim for disfigurement.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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