Scarring and Disfigurement After a Vehicle Accident – Can You Recover Compensation?
In 2021, a 2-year-old girl in Pennsylvania suffered from facial lacerations caused by embedded glass in a car accident, which resulted in severe facial scarring. A lawsuit was filed, and she and her family were awarded $15,000 compensation in the settlement.
The damages from a vehicle accident can be painful and life-altering for victims, but none so much as the serious physical scarring and disfigurement left behind on their bodies – sometimes for the rest of their lives. But how challenging is the road to receiving this kind of compensation for these damages?
What Kinds of Scars Qualify for Compensation?
Although everyone reacts and heals differently to injuries, there are common scars that accident victims will experience. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, common scars are:
These dark, raised sections of scar tissue can remain up to a year after the injury. Keloids usually stretch larger than the injured area because the body is overcompensating, and the scars sometimes return, which means ongoing treatment is needed.
Although they develop faster than keloids, hypertrophic scars tend to be more treatable, normally do not grow beyond the injured area, and can gradually disappear on their own over the course of a year. The scars are not necessarily unnoticeable, however, especially if they are on the face or another prominent spot of the body.
Contractures actually contract the skin as the body tries to heal a large, damaged area, and, if the scar is formed on a joint, it could affect mobility. The future could mean permanent disfigurement and inactivity after the accident. These scars are usually the result of fuel burns, large scrapes, or road burns.
Types of Compensation Victims Can Recover from Disfiguring Injuries from a Car Crash
Compensation for scarring and disfiguring as a result of a car accident comes in several forms of damage, which include:
These are considered economic damages, and compensation will contribute toward reimbursing major financial losses, such as from
- Medical bills
- Ongoing surgeries and therapy
- Lost current wages
- Repairing or replacing the vehicle
- Lost future income and earning capacity
- Inability to pay rent, mortgage
- Inability to pay for groceries or transportation
These damages are those suffered beyond any monetary losses and, unfortunately, they are not as easy to calculate into a personal injury claim. They include:
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish and the psychological effects of the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Stress and anxiety
- Loss of companionship or consortium for the family’s loss of their relationship with their loved one
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Because it is difficult to apply a financial value to these general damages, the court will usually multiply the total damages by between 1 and 5, depending on how severe the sustained injuries are
If the victim of a car accident was disfigured because the defendant, or other liable party, was negligent or caused harm on purpose, punitive damages might be awarded. Though rare, these damages can still offer a payout from defendants, like a manufacturer who sold a defective or recalled product.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering from Scarring and Disfigurement: a Closer Look
There are two categories of pain and suffering damages: physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering. Compensation can be recovered by the scarring and disfigurement victim or the family (children or spouse) of the victim in cases of wrongful death. Here are some examples of both types of pain and suffering:
Physical Pain and Suffering
- Low energy
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Chronic aches and pains
Mental Pain and Suffering
- Diminished quality of life and loss of enjoyment
- Lower cognitive capacity
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
How is Compensation from Scarring and Disfigurement Injuries Calculated in Nevada?
While the insurance company of the driver who is responsible will calculate the initial compensation value of the victim’s scarring and disfigurement injuries, this settlement total usually will not even come close to the financial compensation the victim deserves.
An attorney specializing in personal injury law will be able to better assist victims in acquiring the compensation that their pain and suffering is worth through these two calculation methods used in Nevada:
- The Multiplier Method: This is when the legal system multiplies the value of economic damages by a number between 1 (lesser damages) and 5 (more severe damages).
- The Per Diem Method: An attorney will assign a specific dollar amount to each day between the accident and when the victim made (or is expected to make) a full recovery.
What Factors into Calculating the Value of Scarring and Disfiguring Compensation?
Every personal injury case after a car accident that results in scarring and disfiguring is different, whether the victim is 21 or 91. Generally, however, the severity of the scar is key, and facial scars on a child are worth more than the same scar on an adult because of their emotional, social, and financial consequences.
In addition to age, here are other significant factors that can determine the settlement amount in these claims:
- Gender: Although sexist, the legal system seems to award more lawsuit compensation to women than men.
- Permanence: The value of compensation may depend on how permanent the scar is and the possibility of whether or not it can be removed or corrected by a plastic surgeon. And if it cannot be completely removed, the stigma of the scar remaining after surgery affects the claim.
- Marital Status: However unfair, the court system awards more money to victims without a spouse.
- Location of the Scar: As one can imagine, the more visible the scar is (face, lips, neck, hands), the greater the value of the claim will be.
- Mitigation: Lawsuit compensation amounts are higher when the victim has made every last effort to reduce the scarring.
What is the Average Compensation for Scarring and Disfigurement Injuries?
Usually, the settlement amount value of an injury resulting in significant facial scarring is between $40,000 to $150,000. When there is very severe, disfiguring facial scarring involved in personal injury lawsuits, however, it can have much higher settlement amounts.