The resulting scar from a wound or surgical procedure caused by a car accident, burn or other type of accident can sometimes be the most significant part of a personal injury case. By this I mean a scar can be the basis for most of the financial compensation.
A motor vehicle accident often causes injuries that result in a scar or require surgical intervention to treat the injuries. After a surgical procedure any hardware placed inside the body is basically invisible. The resulting scar, however, is there for all to see. Scar removal or a scar revision procedure can help make a scar appear more aesthetically pleasing, but the scar may still be visible. Even after these types of procedure, a scar should still be considered in determining the fair value of a personal injury case.
Overview of Scars from a Wound or Surgical Procedure
Scar formation is the inevitable consequence of a wound, either traumatic or surgical. There are many causes of scars, but in the context of personal injury cases, scars most often result from a serious car accident or from a surgical procedure required to treat serious injuries suffered in an accident. Sometimes, the cause of the scar will determine the severity and prominence of a scar.
For example, a woman that we represented suffered a significant facial laceration after she was involved in a trucking accident while driving on I-93 in Dorchester, MA. This injury resulted in a severe, jagged like scar on her face. In another case our office handled, our client suffered a severely herniated lumbar disc in his spine after being rear-ended in Marlborough, Massachusetts. This injury required a back fusion. This spinal surgery resulted in a surgical scar, the appearance of which was linear and not as significant as a scar from an acute accident. While a talented surgeon, through experience, planning and technique can reduce the effect of the surgical scarring, there will almost always be evidence of such a procedure.
Regardless of the cause, the value of a scar from an accident or injury can be the most significant portion of a personal injury claim. Insurance companies, however, try to devalue scars suffered in accidents by claiming that a scar removal or scar revision procedure would eliminate the scar all together. This is not entirely true.
About Scar Revision or Scar Removal
A common misunderstanding is that scar revision eliminates or erases the evidence of a scar. A bodily injury adjuster from an insurance company may claim that these types of procedures would eliminate the scar. They sometimes offer to compensate an accident victim for the procedure because it is often much less costly than compensating someone for the true value of a scar. Though scar revision doesn’t fully eliminate the scar, it will make the scar less noticeable and, perhaps, more acceptable. Therefore, an accident victim should be compensated for the cost of a scar removal or revision procedure in addition to compensation for the permanency and impact of the scar. Typically, a doctor’s report is needed to determine the cost of the procedure and potential permanency of the scar.
An examination and report of a plastic surgeon is important in a personal injury case involving a scar to properly evaluate a scar for insurance purposes. It may seem simplistic to the average person but a report consisting of the doctor noting the length and width of the scar and location on the body is very important to the insurance company in their evaluation of the value of a scar. The projected cost of removal or revision of the scar, possible complications from such a procedure and a surgeon’s opinion of the potential results of these procedures are equally important.
There are both surgical and nonsurgical techniques, often used in combination to revise a scar. What’s important to understand is that you can’t have unrealistic expectations. Revision will mostly likely improve, but not erase, the scar. And it may require multiple surgical procedures along with additional non-surgical treatment to obtain an optimal result. The best results could take months or years. That’s why living with a scar, from a legal standpoint, is a significant component of damages in a personal injury case.
Final Thoughts of Scar Revision or Removal
If you are left with a scar following an accident or surgery, patience is a virtue. It takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months for a scar to fully mature. This is why anyone who suffers a scar from an accident should not attempt to settle their personal injury claim too quickly after an accident. Settling your claim too early may result in receiving less compensation for the scar because it may not heal as well as you hope.
Immature scars are prone to hypertrophy. A hypertrophic scar occurs when there is a lot of tension around a healing wound. The scar is thick and raised and often red in color. Hypertrophic scars are the result of an imbalance in the collagen at the site of the wound. Also, vitamins A, C, and E as well as zinc can also help in wound healing but should not be used prior to any revision done by a surgeon. Taking these supplements within a week of a procedure could result in increased bleeding around the revision site. These types of situations may result in the scar being much worse than originally anticipated.
The point is that despite today’s advances in both surgical and nonsurgical methods of scar revision the best result is a less noticeable, more acceptable scar. An insurance carrier’s obligation for compensation of a scar does not end with the cost of revision surgery. If you’re left with a reduced scar, you still suffer from a permanent disfigurement and should be compensated fairly.
Have You Sustained a Scar From an Accident? Speak With Our Legal Team
If you, or someone you know, have been injured in an accident in Massachusetts and left with a scar, feel free to contact us. We are more than happy to answer any questions you have and explain to you your legal rights. To schedule a complementary meeting and case evaluation please call us at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online.