Q: I sustained severe burns to my face and neck when a chemical splashed on me at work. I am now done with treatment. The Department closed my claim because they say I am not entitled to permanent partial disability because they are not responsible for cosmetic damage. Is this true?
A: Under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act, permanent partial disability is deemed to be a loss of bodily function. Purely cosmetic changes are not compensable. However, if you have sustained significant damage to your skin and require occasional, if not intermittent, uses of creams and ointments to help keep the scar tissue softened, or if you have to avoid exposure to sunlight or wind because it will cause drying, cracking or bleeding of the skin, there is likely a loss of bodily function that should be compensated. You can start by having your treating cosmetologist review the Washington Administrative Code as it applies to permanent skin impairment, or you can consult with an attorney who handles industrial insurance claims. Learn more about workers’ compensation claims.