Disfigurement From Personal Injuries
Disfigurement has been defined by courts in Texas as an “impairment of beauty, symmetry or appearance; that which renders unsightly or deforms in some manner.” SunBridge Healthcare Corp. v. Penny, 160 S.W.3d 230, 252 (Tex.App.-Texarkana 2005, no pet.). It is a separate, recognized damage element from other intangible damage elements such as mental anguish, pain and suffering and physical impairment. Scarring is a common type of disfigurement.
Causes of Disfigurement
Disfigurement can come from a number of different types of injuries. Any personal injury that results in a permanent physical alteration of appearance can give rise to a disfigurement claim which allows the element of damages of “disfigurement” to be submitted to the jury. Some examples of disfigurement claims are as follows:
- Burn injuries from plant explosions
- Scarring from puncture wounds after a dog bite or after surgery
- Chemical burn injuries
- loss of fingers, limbs or an eye
If you suffer one of these or a similar loss due to the negligence of another, you have a right to ask a jury to order the tortfeasor to compensate you for the disfigurement they have caused.
Types of Scars and Treatment
There are several types of scars that may occur due to a personal injury. Depending upon the type and severity, there are a number of treatment options ranging from salves and ointments to surgical scar revision.
Contracture scars also known as “post-burn scars” are scars that result from the tightening of the skin due to a burn injury. It may be shallow and on the surface with a minimal effect on movement and comfort or it may run deep affecting muscle function and/or nerves and causing ongoing pain and suffering. The Shriners Hospital for Children has a burn treatment department for children that is excellent for burn care. Depending upon how severe the burn is treatment may range for cleaning the would and treating with ointments to physical therapy or even reconstructive and/or plastic surgery.
Keloid scars are a raised and often somewhat discolored “puffy” area around the original wound. They area result of an abnormal healing process when the body produces an excess of collagen.The collagen fibers form in an abnormal thickness and shape causing a thick”puffy” appearance. They are really benign fibrous skin tumors. Keloids occur more common in dark skin. They can get worse and even hamper skin’s flexibility and movement when untreated. Treatment options range from ointments to scar revision surgery.
Hypertrophic scars are raised areas of scar tissue on the skin. The are caused by the formation of excess collagen during the wound’s healing process. They most commonly form in places where skin is tight or there is more muscle tissue such as the upper back/shoulder or chest area. They are similar to keloid scars. They often form when there is an infection in the wound as it is healing. Typically, these scars can be reduced using steroid injections or silicone sheets. Keeping the wound clean while it is healing can help prevent these scars from ever forming.
How We Can Help
Disfigurement and scarring are very serious injuries with permanent, lasting effects. We aggressively pursue these types of damage claims. But you need more than just a legal advocate when you have these types of severe injuries. In addition to pursuing your legal rights against the party responsible for your scars, Simmons and Fletcher can help you find the right doctors to evaluate and care for your injures and obtain funding to get the care. Since the 1970’s, our injury attorneys have helped numerous clients find the right orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, plastic surgeons and psychological counselors to evaluate and treat disfigurement injuries and their lasting effects. Call us for a free no obligation consultation.