Safety and OSHA News

Dental damage claim 3 years after workplace fall: Will comp cover it?

This employee was treated for injuries due to a workplace fall. Years afterward, she amended her claim for dental damage. How did a court rule? 

Dorl Holdren worked as a salesperson for Bon Ton Department Stores in West Virginia. On Jan. 3, 2011, she fell at work. She applied for and received workers’ comp coverage for right eye/head laceration, sprains of both wrists, left knee sprain and left shoulder pain. She received stitches to the right side of her face and was off work for the rest of the week.

Two days after her fall, Holdren saw her dentist. His treatment notes say she had soreness in her jaw while chewing but made no mention of dental injuries due to her recent fall.

In 2014, Holdren filed to amend her workers’ comp claim to include teeth.

Her dentist said bridgework, root canal and other dental work were related to her 2011 fall.

A claims administrator denied adding the dental work to the claim. This decision was upheld by the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges and Workers’ Compensation Board of Review.

The Office of Judges said it’s more likely than not that Holdren didn’t injure her teeth in her workplace fall. Her dentist’s records two days after her fall didn’t contain any mention of the dental conditions allegedly related to her fall.

Recently, the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals took up the case. It agreed with the previous decision. The court noted Holdren didn’t report injuries to her teeth due to the fall to the emergency room or any doctor. No mention of broken bridgework was made until three years and eight months after the fall.

Holdren didn’t get to add coverage for dental work to her workers’ comp claim.

(Dorl Holdren v. Bon Ton Department Stores Inc., West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, No. 15-1124, 3/3/17)

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  1. I will simply say here that you must visit some very good dentist after any such cases occur to you. The injuries might have been due to falling at workplace, but the dentist failed to mention them. She might not have noticed anything for being under the pain, but who is going to hear this now? The dentist can be held responsible for such cases where they fail to acknowledge any accidental injuries at the right time.

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