Scarring and Disfigurement in Personal Injury Cases

December 28, 2022 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | Tips & Information

Scarring and Disfigurement in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law in California is designed to help the victim walk away from the accident as though it never happened. Benefits paid by the liable party can fill in the gaps for lost wages, pay for medical treatment, and restore an individual’s quality of life. 

However, even if the individual makes a nearly full recovery, they may still hold a lifelong physical mark or wound. Whether the result is a visible scar or a missing limb, there is compensation available for injury victims who sustain some degree of permanent disfigurement. 

Types of Scars

There are multiple types of physical scars that could last you a lifetime. Each one is caused by a slightly different mechanism and may lead to different consequences. Understanding the difference between scar types and the treatment they require can help you recover benefits for your disfigurement. 

Hypertrophic Scars

A hypertrophic scar is caused by an excessive amount of collagen fibers during the healing process. This raised area may be prone to itching and/or very sensitive to contact. 

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are caused by scar tissue growth around the original injury area. This type of scar can be painful and usually must be removed through scar revision surgery. 

Contracture Scars

The final type of scar is often the most disfiguring. A contracture scar—the form of scar associated with burn injuries—occurs when a large area of skin is lost. The surrounding tissue comes together to form a scar and creates an area of tight skin. This tense scar tissue can impact a person’s nerves and muscles. 

Contracture scars can cause chronic pain, discomfort, and severe disfigurement. Many victims undergo plastic surgery to reduce the impact. 

What Causes Scarring or Disfigurement?

Any type of accident can lead to a scar or physical disfigurement. There are some types of accidents that are more likely to cause scars than others. Below are some examples of California accidents that we see associated with scarring and disfigurement injuries.

  • Burns or explosions
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Animal attacks
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Boat accidents
  • Botched surgery or medical malpractice
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Defective products
  • Industrial accidents
  • Electrocution accidents
  • Work injuries

Scars are more likely to occur in accidents with lacerations or burn injuries. Deep wounds that damage large portions of skin or tissue will result in scarring more than broken bones or blunt-force trauma. 

No matter how you came to be scarred or disfigured, always remember that you can reach out to the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark for legal advice. We will do what we can to determine if you have a case or not. 

Types of Injuries in a Permanent Disfigurement or Scarring Settlement

Scars and/or disfigurement can happen in any scenario. Here are some of the more common injuries in California that we deal with disfigurement/scarring claims for: 

  • Severe burns
  • Scars to the torso and upper body
  • Injuries to the spine
  • Facial scars or deformities
  • Fractures to the jaw or lost teeth
  • Impairment of vision or loss of eyes
  • Spine and spinal cord injuries
  • Distortion or mutilation of limbs
  • Lower limb fractures that cause mobility issues
  • Amputation or limb loss

It’s important to remember that disfigurement/scarring compensation only accounts for a portion of the recoverable damages after a personal injury accident. Medical expenses, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, loss of income, and more compensatory damages may also be awarded depending on the resulting injuries. 

Types of Permanent Scar Compensation

After an injury that leaves you with a permanent disfigurement or scar, you may be dealing with consequences for the rest of your life. If you are injured in California, a Chain | Cohn | Clark personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover the following damages:

  • Economic damages are the monetary values associated with your injury (and disfigurement) which have a concrete number tied to them. If you can prove the liable party’s negligence, any receipt or document you can provide that shows an expense from your injury will be compensated. Other damages, such as lost wages, property repairs, and burial costs, also count as economic damages.
  • Non-economic damages may account for a significant portion of the compensation in a scarring or disfigurement lawsuit. It’s difficult to calculate the true cost of a permanent disfigurement. Who can decide how much somebody will suffer from a visible scar or limited mobility? Determining a fair value will be one of your lawyer’s main responsibilities. 
  • Punitive damages are additional fines on the defendant to discourage wrongful or negligent behaviors in the future. These damages are only awarded when the defendant acted with gross negligence, fraud, malice, or oppression.

The total monetary value of these damages will depend on a variety of factors that a lawyer will help you determine. 

Compensation for Scarring and Disfigurement

The amount of money you can recover for scars will depend on the details of your case. Below are some of the considerations that factor into determining a scarring settlement in California.

  • Size: The dimensions of the scar—length, width, and depth—can factor into a scarring case. When a scar is larger, more noticeable, or protrudes out from your skin, you may be able to recover more benefits.
  • Location: Where the scar is on the victim’s body will impact the settlement value. If it is in a visible location, or in an area where it causes more discomfort, the benefits may increase. Facial scar settlement amounts have the potential to be higher than more hidden injuries.
  • Pain: One of the most important factors in a scarring case is whether or not the mark still causes pain/discomfort. If the scar remains sensitive to touch or creates complications when pressure is applied, an individual’s quality of life may be more affected. 
  • Emotional suffering: Whether it be from embarrassment, trauma, or another emotion, lasting mental anguish after a scarring/disfigurement injury warrants compensation. 
  • Victim: The age and gender of a victim may factor into the award settlement. If the injured party is younger and must deal with the scar or disfigurement for a longer period of time, they may be entitled to more benefits. 
  • Impact: The effects that a scar has on the victim’s life can be a factor in personal injury lawsuits. For example, somebody who relies on their physical appearance for income—such as a model—may receive more money if their face is scarred. Similarly, a disfigurement that limits mobility or causes discomfort when moving may warrant additional compensation if the victim works a physically demanding job. 

Compensation for scarring and disfigurement can range from thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much a scar is worth will change based on the above factors as well as your attorney’s ability to prove your injuries.

Beyond compensation for the suffering or pain caused by scarring and disfigurement, a victim may be eligible for money to cover available treatments. This involves proving that your quality of life has been damaged by your injuries, and will be improved by some form of plastic surgery or grafting procedure. 

Treatments for Scarring in California

In some cases, plastic surgeons may be able to reduce the physical and emotional effects of a scar or disfigurement by hiding or covering it. Scar revision surgery can yield positive results for the victim, but is often expensive and painful. Individuals may need to undergo multiple surgeries to adequately repair the damage caused by the injury. 

Through an injury lawsuit, a scarring victim may be entitled to damages that cover the cost of these surgeries. The liable party should be required to pay for the lasting issues they caused. An experienced lawyer who has dealt with scarring cases in the past can help you find the proper treatment and negotiate to have it covered by the person/people responsible.

How Can a Bakersfield Personal Injury Lawyer Help?

A Chain | Cohn | Clark personal injury attorney will assist the plaintiff in many ways. We will hear your case, conduct an investigation surrounding any leads or claims, and communicate expectations directly with insurance companies.

The most important role of a Bakersfield attorney in a disfigurement case is helping negotiate the scar settlement value—as well as other types of personal injury compensation. We have access to countless local experts who help us get a better understanding of the injuries in question. These specialists will study the details of the case, help inform decisions of what to pursue, and potentially testify or give a statement on behalf of the victim. 

We also look into any claims that may help indicate fault in the matter at hand. To receive scarring and disfigurement benefits, you must still prove that another party was guilty for the resulting injuries. Even if you have this evidence readily available, presenting it in a persuasive manner that follows courtroom procedure is imperative to recovering sufficient damages. 

Lawyers also help by protecting you from insurance companies that may try to take advantage of your situation. Many personal injury victims do not realize they can be compensated for the impacts that a scar will have in the future. Before you accept any form of settlement, you should reach out to a professional for legal advice.

Chain | Cohn | Clark and Recovering Scarring/Disfigurement Damages

For decades, it has been our objective to represent and guide personal injury victims in California to the reparations they deserve. Though our clients have changed, our goals have not.

We will offer the utmost attention and stop at nothing to win your case. We work on a contingency fee, meaning we don’t get paid unless you do. Our Bakersfield personal injury lawyers have an incentive to fight for your justice. 

Set up a free case evaluation on our website to get started with an attorney today.