Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Pamela J. O'Neil v. Wittco Fashions, Inc., No. A-91884.
Gregory D. Geiss, for petitioner.
Edward J. Geist, for respondent.
Judges Doyle, Palladino and Smith, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 127]
Wittco Fashions (Employer) appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which reversed a referee's decision dismissing Pamela J. O'Neil's (Claimant) petition for specific loss benefits. We vacate and remand.
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 128]
Claimant was employed by Wittco Fashions (Employer) as a sewing machine operator. On March 5, 1984, Claimant was guiding material into a snap machine when her hand slipped and she accidentally punched a hole through her right index finger. As a result of this accident, Claimant lost a portion of her finger. Claimant began receiving workmen's compensation benefits for the loss of her finger pursuant to a notice of compensation payable filed March 22, 1984. On October 22, 1984, Claimant filed a claim petition seeking compensation for loss of use*fn1 of her right hand resulting from the March 5, 1984 accident.
At a hearing before a referee, Claimant testified as to the problems she experienced when using the hand and the referee observed Claimant's hand. In addition, the medical reports of four doctors were presented. Dr. Farrell opined that Claimant had lost fifty percent of the function of her hand. Claimant's Exhibit # 1. Dr. Raklewicz stated that total hand disability "may be in the neighborhood of fifty percent." Claimant's Exhibit # 2. Dr. Schneider stated that Claimant had lost approximately ten percent of the function of her hand. Defendant's Exhibit # 1. Dr. Chung also opined that the loss of function of the hand was ten percent. Claimant's Exhibit # 3.
Based on the evidence presented, the referee made the following pertinent finding of fact:
5. The foregoing medical opinions place the Claimant's loss of use of her hand at a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 50%. It is also obvious from the Claimant's testimony and view of her hand at the hearing that the hand has not been
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 129]
totally lost and is of some use to her. Thus, based on the medical opinions the Claimant has not lost the use of her hand for all intents and purposes as the ...