How Much Are Scars Worth in a Settlement?
If you are seriously injured in a car accident or dog bite incident, scars may seem like the least of your problems. But as you recover from your injuries and go back to your everyday life, a scar can feel more like a permanent reminder of the trauma than an emblem of resilience.
Permanent scarring is more than just a cosmetic issue. Scarring can cause deep emotional distress and affect a person’s ability to work, make friends, get married, and enjoy various activities. In other words, scars can reduce a person’s quality of life.
If you have developed scars due to the negligence of another, you have the legal right to seek legal compensation for your pain and suffering. Let one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC help you recover the financial compensation you rightfully deserve.
To contact our Chicago scarring accident lawyers today, call (888) 424-5757 or answer this online contact form for a free consultation. Any personal information you provide will be protected under a confidential attorney-client relationship.
What Is Scarring?
Scarring occurs after an injury as a result of the skin healing itself. Collagen, a protein produced by the body, closes the wound. As the wound heals, the collagen breaks down and is continually replaced over months and years.
Mild injuries cause scars that become smoother and less visible over time. But more severe injury scars may be permanent and can interfere with mobility.
Here are the different types of scars related to injuries:
- Normal fine-line scarring: A minor wound will usually leave a raised line on the skin upon healing, which should gradually flatten and fade within months or years. Fine-line scarring will not disappear completely.
- Keloid scarring: A keloid scar occurs when too much collagen is in the wound site. Keloid scarring is raised above the skin and is often darker than the surrounding skin. They may be itchy or painful and can restrict movement in some cases.
- Hypertrophic scarring: Like keloid scars, this type of scar results from the overproduction of collagen. However, hypertrophic scarring does not grow beyond the boundary of the original injury, unlike keloid scars.
- Atrophic scarring: Typically a result of acne or chickenpox, atrophic scars are small and hollow. They can also be caused by surgery or trauma.
- Contracture scarring: Scarring from burns are often contracture scars, which cause a tightening of the skin. These scars also may be deeper than the surface and can cause mobility issues.
The type of scar that develops after your injury also plays a role in how much it is worth.
Common Causes of Scarring
Any injury to the skin may cause a scar. Some common reasons are:
Common Accidents That Can Lead to Scarring
You may file a scarring claim regardless of the nature of the accident--as long as another person’s negligence caused it. Common examples of scarring accidents include:
- Car accidents: Car accident cases usually involve scarring claims. Aside from serious injury, a car accident can result in severe scarring from broken glass, twisted metal, and burned plastic.
- Surgery: Plastic surgeons may also be subject to scarring claims if they accidentally cause a scar during a procedure. Moreover, they may also face medical malpractice claims if the accident was caused by negligence.
- Hair salon accidents: Hairstylists use extremely sharp tools on their clients, including hair shears and razor blades. An injury resulting from a hair salon accident could lead to permanent scarring and perhaps even infection if the hairstylist used an unsanitary tool.
- Dog bites: In dog bite cases, an injured person can suffer permanent disfigurement on top of infection and severe pain. The owner will be held liable if it is proven that the dog bit the victim without reasonable cause to do so. This case may not include incidences where a victim trespasses on the owner’s property and is bitten by the dog.
- Slip and falls: Commercial establishments have a legal obligation to maintain the safety of their workers and customers. If you slip and fall due to the negligence of an establishment, they may be held liable for your injuries, including scarring.
Medical Treatment for Scarring
If an injury scar is causing a deformity or restricting movement, medical procedures can help minimize the appearance of the scar and increase the flexibility of the affected area. If scarring is minimal, it may be treated with non-surgical options such as corticosteroid creams or injections. Severe scarring, on the other hand, may require surgery:
- Scar removal: The scar tissue is removed, and the wound is carefully healed to prevent further scar tissue. It can also involve only removing small portions of scar tissue, allowing it to heal with less restriction to movement and appear less visible.
- Dermabrasion refers to removing the upper layer of skin. Such a procedure helps smooth and soften the scar tissue.
- Skin grafting: Using skin from other areas of the body to replace the scar tissue is used when there is extreme damage and loss of mobility. This procedure is generally more for function than appearance.
- Laser and other light treatments: Laser therapy can reduce the appearance of scarring and increase a person’s mobility when a scar limits movement. This treatment is popular among victims that don’t require surgery.
No injury scar can ever be removed entirely, although it can often be made pliable and less visible. Keloid scars have a 50-80% chance of reoccurring after surgery, although they may be less noticeable and detrimental to movement.
Factors Affecting the Value of Scar Settlements
No two scars are the same. Even identical scars are not the same from a legal valuation standpoint. A 20-year-old woman may be more affected by permanent scarring than an 80-year-old man with the same scar. Thus, determining the settlement value of a scar is a very individualistic process.
The value of a scar depends on several factors, which include:
- Age: The younger you are, the higher a scar is worth. Scarring on kids is worth more than scarring on adults.
- Location: Facial scarring is worth more than scarring on the back or leg. A scar may also be worth more if it is in an area that causes mobility restriction.
- Permanency: A permanent scar will result in a higher personal injury claim than a scar that will fade over time.
- Gender: It is unfair, but courts, personal injury attorneys, and insurance companies typically value a scar higher on a woman.
- Appearance and severity: The color, size, and visibility of the scar also determine the value of the settlement. The more severe the scar is, the higher its value.
- Profession: A claimant’s career can also affect the value of a scar. For example, a facial scar will be worth more if the claimant is a professional model as opposed to a construction worker.
As mentioned above, facial scarring is worth more than a scar on any other body part. However, the value of a facial scar still depends on other factors highlighted above, such as the age and marital status of the claimant and the severity of the facial scar.
Insurance companies will sometimes cover facial scar cases if the scarring severely alters the claimant’s appearance. However, some companies see facial scars--even those requiring surgery--as a cosmetic procedure not covered by the policy.
How Much Is a Scar Worth?
Given the highly individualistic nature of scar personal injury claims, placing a specific dollar amount on a scar is challenging. Compensation awards vary depending on the circumstances. Some scars have more value, such as a facial scar on a young female or a large scar on a child.
Types of scarring that affect a person’s life to a significant degree usually receive significant payouts from $100,000 to $1,000,000.
Juries typically give lesser verdicts to older individuals and larger verdicts to those with a permanent scar on the face. Average payouts for less severe scarring are generally worth $10,000 to $30,000.
Damages That Can Affect Your Settlement Value
Aside from the factors mentioned above, suing for certain damages can also help raise the value of a scar. Such damages include:
- Medical costs: You may include the cost of plastic surgery or scar removal surgery in your claim, especially for facial scars. It is also possible to recover the costs of other treatments, such as topical medication, dermabrasion, laser treatment, and any other procedure necessary to treat your scar.
- Pain and suffering: Similar to standard personal injury claims, you may also be able to sue for the non-economic damages caused by your scar. You can highlight the adverse effects it has had on your relationships, self-esteem, work-life, and mental health.
- Further injury: If your scar caused nerve damage or mobility issues, you might also be able to sue for the corresponding treatments that those conditions require.
- Loss of income: If you lost your source of income due to the scar (e.g., if you are a model or if the scar limits your movement, affecting your work performance), you could also sue for lost income, including wages, bonuses, and commissions. Your lawyer can also try to maximize your settlement by arguing the effect of the scarring on your potential earning capacity in the future.
The Role of Your Personal Injury Attorney
In a personal injury case involving a scar, the negligent party’s insurance company and insurance adjuster tend to lowball the value of a scar. In such cases, the injured person may not be able to obtain the maximum compensation that they are entitled to receive.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney helps ensure that you get fair compensation for the damages caused to you. Personal injury attorneys can help you:
- Estimate the potential cost of your scar
- Determine the cost of getting the scar removed
- Find ways to maximize the value of your claim
- Highlight the economic and non-economic damages of the scar
- Gather evidence to strengthen your claim
- Communicate with insurance companies on your behalf
- Seek financial compensation for other injuries
Filing a Scarring Personal Injury Claim
In many ways, scarring can have just as significant an impact as a serious injury. A scar can affect your physical and mental well-being for the rest of your life, not to mention the negative consequences that the injury itself has caused.
In worst cases, severe scarring can even interfere with your ability to earn an income.
If you have been a victim of an accident that resulted in scarring, you have the legal right to seek compensation. The settlement can help you pay for reconstructive surgery, scar revision surgery, therapy, and other treatments necessary to help you get life back on track after the accident.
When filing a scarring injury claim, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Do not speak with the other party’s insurance company without consulting your lawyer first.
- File a scarring claim as soon as possible. Many scars become less noticeable over time; if you start your personal injury later, your scar may be worth less.
- Tell the truth about your scarring or any other injuries caused by the accident. You can only sue for the scarring that the accident caused. The jury will likely see you as unreliable if you are caught lying.
- Talk to your doctor about your scarring. Mention symptoms of itchiness or pain, if there are any. Check-ups with your physician will ensure that you have valid records to present in your personal injury case.
- Consult your lawyer about how much compensation you can realistically receive. It helps to figure out the range of values before filing your claim.
- Consider going to a mental health professional to discuss the mental and emotional effects of the scar. Even a small scar can cause significant self-esteem and mental health issues for the average individual. Psychiatric records can serve as proof of pain and suffering.
- If you have been in a car accident, avoid speaking to the other driver or their insurance company until you talk to your lawyer. Call a police officer to the accident scene, even if either party’s injuries are minor.
- Do not manipulate your scar. It may be self-explanatory, but some victims make their wounds worse to get a bigger payout. Getting caught manipulating your scar can result in your case’s dismissal or--at the very least--a reduction in your claim’s value.
When filing a scarring claim, be sure to collect the following:
- Medical bills associated with treating your scar
- Photos and videos of your wound or scar as it progresses
- Medical records
- Police reports
If you don’t settle before the case goes to court, you may also want to hire a plastic surgeon willing to testify. A testimony from a plastic surgeon highlighting the implications of your scar can help turn the case in your favor.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve Your Compensation Claim
Scarring is often a minor cosmetic issue, but a scar can get in the way of a happy, fulfilling life in severe cases. More than that, no amount of scar revision can get rid of a scar completely.
If you have been a victim of negligence resulting in scarring and significant injuries, you can seek legal compensation from the party at fault. However, determining how much a scar is worth is not as easy as you think.
Nevertheless, having an excellent personal injury attorney to defend your case can help maximize your settlement’s value. Call (888) 424-5757 or fill out a contact form to discuss the value of a scar caused by someone else’s negligence..
Any personal information you provide your attorney will remain confidential under an attorney-client relationship.