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Airline workers with frostbite who are entitled to psychological benefits



An airline employee who suffered severe frostbite and necrosis in some of her fingers when de-icing fluid that seeped into her gloves is entitled to healing benefits and psychological benefits in connection with her injury.

Drahozal v Envoy Air Inc ., The Iowa Court of Appeals on Wednesday confirmed a Deputy Labor Compensation Commissioner on 400-week benefits to the aviation worker, although it slightly reduced the penalty for late compensation payments.

Rukhsana Drahozal worked for American Airlines Group Inc. at Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for 16 years. In January 2015, while de-icing aircraft, the de-icing solution seeped through her gloves. Over the next few days, Drahozal's fingers began to turn reddish brown and a few days later she was diagnosed with frostbite on eight fingers, as well as necrosis. She was referred to a hospital burn unit for treatment, and over the next few weeks, several of her fingertips hardened to the touch and lost sensation, and one of her fingertips fell off.

She was treated for anxiety due to "extreme pain" in the fingers that interferes with sleep, and a doctor recommended a combination of painkillers, occupational and pain psychological therapies and counseling. She was also diagnosed with major depressive disorder related to her workplace injury.

One year after the accident, an independent doctor diagnosed her with chronic bilateral fingertip pain but said that no further treatments were likely to help and placed her on maximum medical improvement. with a 2% body as a whole impairment rate. Because the doctor had placed her on MMI, she was denied pay periods, and although American Airlines acknowledged her finger injuries, it denied her psychiatric claims.

In July 201

6, Drahozal American Airlines announced that she was retiring and submitted a petition to the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner regarding her disability rating, healing salary and mental health claims.

The Deputy Commissioner found that Drahozal had maintained 80% incapacity for work due to frostbite and mental health and awarded her 400 weeks of permanent benefits with partial disability. He also awarded benefits for eleven late payments but denied penalties related to her mental health damage, because "the claim was quite debatable."

Both parties appealed and a district court upheld the Commissioner's decision. Both parties appealed again.

The Board of Appeal upheld the Deputy Commissioner's decision, arguing that substantial evidence supported the decision that Drahozal had seriously injured her fingers and suffered a mental health injury as a result of her work injury.

However, the Court overturned the Commissioner's decision on penalties for the delay in five benefits, arguing that Mrs Drahozal could not prove that they were delayed, which reduced the penalty by $ 820. The Board of Appeal remanded the case with instructions to change the benefit scheme in accordance with its opinion.

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