What is a Degloving Injury?
A degloving injury occurs when all or part of your skin becomes forcibly separated from the underlying layers of skin, muscle, ligaments, and/or bone beneath it. It may be an open degloving injury where the skin is visibly peeled away, or; it may be a closed degloving injury-where the separation occurs but the outer layer remains intact. The latter may show signs such as swelling or bruising that follows. Degloving injuries are considered catastrophic injuries and may be life-threatening depending on the degree and location.
How Does a Degloving Injury Occur?
A degloving injury commonly occurs when some part of the body gets caught and then forcefully pulled away to the point the skin layers shear from each other or from the muscles and or bones. It commonly happens when a leg, arm, or finger gets caught on or in something.
What are Common Examples of Degloving Accidents?
Some examples of degloving injuries that we see in the world and in modern movie culture are:
- A Motorcycle accident resulting in a road-rash injury can result in a degloving from the body impacting and sliding across the pavement while still in motion.
- Injury from sliding down or tugging a rope that catches and causes the skin to pull free can result in the degloving of the hand or fingers.
- Degloving may occur due to the change of tissue composition from a severe burn injury. In the movie “When We Were Soldiers”, soldiers try to move a napalm burn victim by his legs and the flesh literally slides down the bones due to the degree of burn.
- Work injuries around heavy machinery when the arm, fingers, or leg gets caught inside a moving part.
- Closed degloving can happen when a bone (commonly the hip or pelvis) is broken, and the bone moves and pulls away from the flesh.
- Animal bites can result in the animal’s teeth tearing away all or part of the flesh. Finger deglovings from dog attacks are not uncommon.
- Thigh/pelvic closed degloving from being dragged across rocks by a waterski.
- Ripping away of ligaments from the flesh and/or bone in sports injuries.
- Defective playground equipment that is poorly designed with moving parts capable of pinching off fingertips and toe tips.
How Do Doctors Treat Degloving Injuries?
Anytime a person suffers an open degloving injury, the treatment options are to reattach (such as a fingertip), perform a skin graft (typically using skin from a hip or leg or a cadaver), stitch the area, or amputate the damaged area (when reattachment is not an option), reconstructive surgery (for extreme injuries). When the injury is a closed degloving injury, doctors may treat the injury by draining any built-up fluids or blood in the space between the unattached skin, debriding or surgically removing dead tissue, or various medical treatments. There is also a risk of exsanguination from too much blood loss from a degloving injury.
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Degloving Injury?
If you suspect a closed degloving injury, go to the emergency room. These injuries can be very serious, and they are often difficult to properly diagnose. If it is an open degloving injury, you will know it and need to go to the emergency room immediately.
How Much is My Degloving Injury Worth?
The value of a degloving claim depends on several factors, including:
- What part of the body was degloved?
- Is it repairable?
- Are the scars easy to hide or highly visible?
- What medical care is required?
- How well did it heal?
- Does it affect your ability to perform your work or other daily activities?
What is the Settlement Value of a Non-Debilitating Fingertip Degloving?
A fingertip degloving that does not preclude one’s ability to work can carry a settlement value in the $150,000-250,000.00 range in our experience inclusive of attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and medical expenses. Obviously, the extent of injury and the amount of medical and lost income can cause these numbers to change. These types of injuries are common in daycare accidents when the playground equipment is old and not up to safety standards so it allows the pinching of fingers and toes.
Talk to a Qualified Degloving Injury Lawyer
A qualified degloving injury lawyer should consider all of the factors in determining how much to ask a jury to award in your case. You should never attempt to handle a catastrophic injury of this nature without consulting a serious injury lawyer about your rights. The law firm of Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers has been helping accident victims recover from catastrophic injuries such as these since 1979. Shouldn’t you have a law firm with 4 decades of experience? Call us today for a free consultation. We do not charge you for our attorney fees or our expenses unless we make a recovery in your case.