On June 7, Justice Paul Pfeifer of the Ohio Supreme Court issued a majority opinion statement in the case of one Stephen Gaydosh concerning his loss of vision. In 2004, Mr. Gaydosh somehow perforated his left eye with a screwdriver while installing a windshield wiper blade. He worked for AutoZone, Inc., and filed a workers’ compensation claim, which was granted.
His ophthalmologist, Dr. Francis Mah, examined him and concluded that his left eye vision was 20/200 (with correction), which made him legally blind. Dr. Mah found that he had lost his left eye’s lens, and estimated that he had lost “at least 75 to 80 percent of his vision”. Later that year Gaydosh filed a motion with the Ohio Industrial Commision for compensation for his “100% loss of vision” in the left eye.
At this point, his employer, AutoZone, asked that he see a second ophthalmologist. This second doctor also found his left eye vision to be 20/200 with correction.
Industrial Commission Denies Then Grants Compensation
The district hearing officer for the Industrial Commission denied compensation on the basis that Gaydosh still had some vision in his left eye – that he hadn’t lost “100%” as his motion claimed, but “only 75 to 80 percent”. Then on appeal, another hearing officer reversed this decision, based on a similar previous case where a worker had lost one eye’s lens in an industrial accident and had been compensated for total vision loss.
AutoZone Continues the Dispute
After this setback, AutoZone took the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, claiming that Gaydosh is entitled to only partial compensation, since he still had some vision in the left eye. Ohio’s law states that a worker who loses sight in one eye is entitled to 125 weeks of compensation. If less than 100% of sight is lost, that worker receives a corresponding percentage of 125 weeks’ compensation.
After studying the two medical reports and considering exactly what the relevant law states, the Ohio Supreme Court found that Gaydosh is legally blind and therefore should receive 125 weeks’ compensation. The vote was close – four to three in favor of upholding the Industrial Commission’s reversed decision.
Industrial accidents can cause permanent pain and disability. If you have been injured at your workplace and would like to know more about your legal rights and options, please contact us for a free consultation.