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Iowa: Injured Worker Entitled to Both "Active" and "Passive" Prosthetic Hands

February 09, 2018 (1 min read)

An employee, whose left hand was severely injured in an industrial accident, should not only receive a mechanical prosthetic device that allowed him to manipulate his thumb and index finger; he should also receive a “passive” prosthetic left hand "that looked like a natural hand,” held an Iowa appellate court. The employer had already supplied the mechanical device, contending that Iowa Code § 85.27 obligated an employer to provide only one permanent prosthetic device as necessary. The appellate court read the statute somewhat differently. It noted that the employer was obligated to furnish no more than “one set” of permanent prosthetic devices. The Court noted the testimony of the employee, that because of its weight and construction, he could only utilize the mechanical device for a few hours per day. According to a psychologist, the employee avoided the general public when he used the mechanical device, feeling as if he was “a Frankenstein figure.” Alternatively, the passive hand looked much more like a natural hand. The court determined that the mechanical and passive prosthetic device together constituted “a set,” that each complimented the other and allowed for the employee’s long-term health and functionality.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Nestle USA v. Conell, 2018 Iowa App. LEXIS 119 (Feb. 7, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 94.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law