Scarring is Often Overlooked in Injury Cases
Scarring occurs in an extremely large number of personal injury cases. Scarring is the byproduct of our bodies natural skin repairing systems. Scars may be the result of lacerations following a crash, puncture woods following a dog bite, burns, incisions made before surgery, and a host of other causes.
You should never settle your personal injury case until you consult with a plastic surgeon who is capable of telling you the cost required to revise your scar. If you or someone you know has been left with a scar following a personal injury, contact a St. Louis personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.
Recovering for Scars in Personal Injury Cases
In Missouri, if you are injured by the careless conduct of another, Missouri law provides the injured party the right to be reimbursed for all of the harms and losses stemming from the incident. Often times scar victims will settle their personal injury case and think their health insurance will take care of the scar at a later time. However, health insurance companies across the board refuse to pay for their insured’s scar revision surgeries by calling the procedures “elective”.
While your life may go on with a scar caused by another person, it all too often is the source of ongoing pain and embarrassment. Children involved in car accidents are frequently left with facial lacerations which remain for their entire lives. These highly visible injuries can invite ridicule and suffering throughout ones life. Adolescence can be a tough age for those with physical impairments. We all know the feeling of physical defects we wish we could change.
What is the value of my scar?
Scarring will have different values for different circumstances. Children left with scars may suffer emotional issues related to the scarring that a grown adult may not. A model whose body is left mangled as a result of crash may be unable to continue in the same line of work and therefore suffer lost wages in addition to emotional and financial burdens. Hairline scarring can also prevent future hair growth over the scarring.
Regardless of the circumstances, a starting point is to make sure you consult with a plastic surgeon to discuss your options. Plastic surgeons may be able to completely hide the scar, or as is more common revise the scar to make it less noticeable. In addition, a plastic surgeon will tell you how long you must wait until they can do anything about the scar. For instance, plastic surgeons often will not revise the scar of a child until they reach age 17 or 18 to allow time for the scar to fully mature. Plastic surgeons also typically wait for at least 1 year from the date of the injury in adults to allow maximum healing. The length of time before you may undergo a scar revision surgery will often affect the value of your case.
Once you have obtained the opinion of a plastic surgeon regarding the possibilities of scar revision, the following list will provide a starting point for valuing your scar. Your short list of additional considerations should include:
- Initial Expense: This would include cost to close the wound, remove stitches, lotions/medications used, etc.
- Visibility: A highly visible scar results in increased attention and embarrassment.
- Length: The size of the affected region will affect attention, pain, and inconvenience.
- Cost of Revision: This is the starting point when valuing any scar.
- Risk of Revision: With any surgery there are risks involved. These may include bleeding, blood clots, infection, scar recurrence, keloid formation, separation of the wound, and reactions to medications.
- Visibility after Revision: Scar revisions are often only hopeful of hiding or minimizing the visibility of the scar. You still must consider how the scar will affect your life if only partially hidden.
- Emotional Impact: The level to which the individual is emotionally harmed by the appearance of the scar. Seeing a scar is often a trigger which will force the individual to relive the traumatic experience which gave rise to the scar.
- Pain, Suffering and Inconvenience: While scars heal it can be difficult to maintain your daily routine. Scars on hands may interfere with bathing, working, laundry, etc.
- Lost Wages: Scars often prevent individuals from working while the scar heals, placing additional financial stress on the individual.
Only after a careful consideration of all of the above factors can one begin to place a fair value on the scar. A Missouri injury attorney familiar with recovering for scarring in personal injury cases can provide additional insight into how your local community juries have valued similar cases.
Ways to Revise a Scar
Plastic surgeons have several different procedures available to help improve the appearance of scars.
- Skin Grafting: The removal of skin from another location for placement over the injured area. This is commonly used to repair injuries where a large amount of skin is lost.
- Dermabrasion: This technique removes several of the upper layers of skin over the scar. New skin then grows over this area and helps correct imperfections.
- Tissue Expansion: The placement of a silicone balloon under the skin to smooth out the affected area.
- Z-Plasty: A series of small incisions are made on either side of the scar to break up the line of the scar and reduce visibility.
- Removal: If a wound is not initially closed properly, a subsequent surgery may be attempted which removes the original scar tissue and the wound is closed again in the correct fashion.
Scar Prevention / Reducing Scars
Following any injury which leaves a scar, proper care and maintenance can highly reduce the visibility of long term scarring. Immediately after sustaining any cut or burn injury, you should thoroughly clean out the entire affected area to remove any debris. Cool water should be used to sooth the wound. (FYI: Certain products such as alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and iodine may be appropriate for small wounds, while counter productive for the treatment of large wounds.).
After the wound is cleaned, keep it covered and consult with your medical provider. The wound may require stitches or additional treatment. If possible, you should have a plastic surgeon take a look at the wound immediately to make sure it is handled properly from the outset. Improper wound care may lead to the need for additional surgeries.
In addition, while the wound is healing, do not pick at your scabs. The human body is healing the scar and the scab prevents bacteria from entering and provides closure to the affected area. Scars also tend to show up on areas of the skin where there is a lot of pull and tension. Rest can play an extremely important factor in scar healing.
It is important to consult with an attorney who has handled scarring in personal injury cases before you settle your case. Many scar victims are not aware they are entitled to reimbursement for all aspects of their scarring, not just the cost to initially close the wound. In addition, if you are forced to undergo a surgery as the result of an injury which is not your fault, scarring from incision wounds should also be reimbursed.
To make sure you receive full reimbursement for your scarring, preparation is key. Contact a Missouri personal injury lawyer to discuss your rights of reimbursement and ensure you are seeking the full value of your injury. Experienced personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions by calling 314.409.7060 or toll free 855-40-CRASH. All consultations are FREE.