The typical workers’ compensation claim most often involves a neck, low-back or shoulder injury. There’s also the occasional knee injury, psychiatric claim or repetitive trauma. But work injuries are not always that mundane as exemplified by a recent story reported at WorkersCompInsider.com, the blog of Lynch, Ryan & Associates.

According to the blog, the North Carolina Industrial Commission recently heard the workers’ compensation claim of Penny Rumple Richardson, who was injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident. Her injuries were not the expected ones but rather involved damage to a prosthetic device, specifically —brace yourselves —her breast implants.

At the lower level, the NCIC deemed the damage and the replacement of both implants compensable. On appeal, the insurance company argued that the medical testimony established the implant to her right breast was ruptured in the accident, but the implant on the left breast showed only signs of “rippling,” which was, according to the medical testimony, more indicative of its having been under-filled, therefore rendering only the damage to the right implant compensable.

The court of appeals noted that under North Carolina workers’ compensation law, damage to breast implants would be covered as would work-related damage to any other prosthetic device “that functions as part of the body,” but the court agreed with the defense that medical testimony established only one implant was damaged as a result of Richardson’s accident. It found that replacement of the left implant to merely achieve body “balance” was not compensable.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge James Wynn Jr. argued for coverage of both implants for aesthetic reasons. Wynn noted that replacement of both implants was necessitated so that they would be “symmetrical and evenly matched.”

For the full blog post, visit WorkersCompInsider.com,

For the full opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, visit http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/coa/opinions/2008/060875-1.htm.

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