Accidents can result in serious injuries that may sometimes leave a permanent scar. Sometimes, surgeries to repair injuries suffered in accidents may also leave a permanent scar. The resulting scar from a wound or surgical intervention can often be the most significant part of Massachusetts personal injury cases. They certainly add value to a claim.
At Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, we have represented numerous accident victims who were left with permanent scars caused by another person’s negligence. We often deal with situations where medical procedures may be necessary to remove or minimize a scar. Although these procedures or treatments may reduce the visibility of the scar, an accident victim may still receive compensation for the resulting scar. Let’s take a look at this situation in more detail, specifically in connection with a personal injury claim or case.
Overview of Scars
Scar formation is the inevitable consequence of a wound, either traumatic or surgical. When an accident damages the skin, scars are formed as our bodies naturally heal the damaged area. This healing process often leaves a permanent indication of the injury and change in the skin’s tissue.
Permanent scars from surgical outcomes after an accident are also very common. After a surgical procedure, any hardware placed inside the body is essentially invisible. The resulting scar, however, is there for all to see.
The appearance of the remaining scar is one of the most important criteria left after the event in a personal injury claim.
Scar Revision or Removal Procedures and Treatments
A talented surgeon, through experience, planning, and technique, can reduce the effect of the scarring. Despite the surgeon’s ability, there will most likely be evidence of the scar and such a procedure. A common misunderstanding is that scar revision eliminates or erases the evidence of a scar. In reality, scar revision doesn’t fully eliminate the resulting scar, but it does make it less noticeable and more acceptable.
There are both surgical and nonsurgical techniques often used in combination to revise a scar. What’s important to understand is that you cannot have unrealistic expectations. Revision procedures, most likely, will improve but not erase the scar. It may require multiple surgical procedures along with additional non-surgical treatment to obtain an optimal result. The best results could take months or, in some circumstances, years. That is why living with a scar, from a legal standpoint, is a significant component of damages.
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.
Scars in Massachusetts Personal Injury Cases
In almost every scarring claim or case, an examination by and report from a plastic surgeon should be obtained to properly evaluate a scar for insurance purposes. It may seem simplistic to the average person, but a report consisting of the surgeon noting the length and width of the scar and its location on the body is very important to the insurance company in their evaluation of the value of scar. Additionally, the projected cost of revision or removal of the scar is equally important. That is why the procedures offered by a surgeon and their costs are often sought prior to attempting to negotiate with an insurance company.
If you were in an accident that left you with a scar, patience is a virtue. It takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months for a scar to fully mature. 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. Thus, most insurance companies will not allocate a fair amount of compensation for an immature scar. It is often important to wait until the scar is near full maturity to begin negotiating compensation for a scar.
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 permanent disfigurement.
It can be difficult to quantify the amount of compensation for a permanent scar. Numerous factors must be taken into consideration when determining what fair compensation for someone who is left with a permanent scar is. For example, the sex of the accident victim, the location of the scar on the body, the length and width of the scar, etc.
In our experience handling many cases that involved scarring, we have researched and worked closely with plastic surgeons. Medical literature is replete with studies about the psychological harm caused by facial injuries. Literature has found that minor facial injuries, although relatively common, have a significant psychological impact on people. For these reasons, it is very important for accident victims left with permanent scars to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer after an accident. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the personal injury claim process, protect your rights, and make sure you are fairly compensated for your injuries and damages.