Scarring can be an unpleasant and upsetting consequence of many types of personal injury. If you have suffered scarring as the result of an accident that was someone else’s fault, or as a result of clinical negligence, you may be in a position to claim compensation.
Scars occur where the body has sustained physical damage and the tissue is either in the process of healing or has healed. They are a normal part of the healing process and can be internal (for example on organs) or external (i.e. on the skin).
The appearance of external scarring is dependent upon the type of injury sustained and the individual person involved. It may be lighter or darker than the surrounding skin and the scarred tissue could be raised, sunken or of a different texture. Scars can be temporary or permanent and their appearance may alter over time.
Sometimes abnormal scars (hypertrophic and keloid scars) can develop. Hypertrophic scars have a red, raised appearance, because of an overproduction of collagen during healing. Keloid scars are a more severe form of hypertrophic scarring, where an excess of tissue grows and the scar becomes larger than the original injury.
Most scars are not painful, however some can be tender, painful or itchy and there may be some loss of sensation. As scar tissue can be less elastic than normal skin, larger areas of scarring may feel tight and restricted, particularly when they are over a joint or across the chest.
Scarring can also have an emotional and psychological impact. Sufferers may experience a loss of confidence and feel self-conscious if their scars are disfiguring or visible to others and scars can act as a constant reminder of a traumatic event.
A person may be scarred as the result of an accident, due to an illness or condition that causes damage to the skin, or because of medical negligence. Some of the more common causes of scarring are as follows:
• Accidents at work
• Road accidents
• Accidents in the home
• Sports accidents
• Slips, trips and falls
• Surgical errors
• Cosmetic surgery errors
• Injuries caused by animals – dog bites, scratches etc
There are various types of injury that may result in scarring, including:
• Lacerations / incision – wounds where the skin is sliced or torn, usually by something sharp such as a piece of metal or shard of glass.
• Abrasions – where the surface of the skin is rubbed away, for example grazes or gravel rash.
• Burns – thermal burns, electrical burns, chemical burns or friction burns.
• Skin complaints – such as dermatitis.
If you have been scarred as the result of an accident and you believe someone else was to blame, for example your employer, another road user, a local council or a medical professional, you may be in a position to pursue a personal injury claim.
After an initial injury has healed and a scar has formed, there will usually be no need for further treatment. If there is pain or restricted movement however, or the visible appearance of the scar is upsetting to the individual, scar revision surgery, laser treatments, medication, creams or steroid injections may offer some improvement. Camouflage makeup can also help to conceal scars.
Sometimes it is possible to take preventative measures to try and reduce the level of scarring after an injury or operation. The use of pressure bandages, silicon sheets and creams can help with this. When stitching wounds in very visible areas, for example in facial injuries, doctors will often use finer sutures and the repair may be carried out by a plastic surgeon.
In every case medical evidence will be required and, in any personal injury claim, it is necessary to show that the person you are making a claim against owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty of care (were negligent), and that the scarring you sustained was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of that negligence.
It is important to seek the advice and assistance of a specialist lawyer with extensive experience in recovering compensation for victims of scarring. They can collate and prepare all of the necessary evidence to put forward the compensation claim and deal with the matter on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.
You should try to record as much information as possible about the accident and your injuries, including details of any medical treatment that you have received. Remember to keep receipts for any injury related costs and expenses, as these may be useful in your claim
There are two elements to a compensation award. The first, called general damages, is for the pain and suffering you may have gone through and any loss of amenity (for example an inability to play sports, drive or do DIY). The award for loss of amenity can be for a short period after an accident or for ever if that is what the medical evidence supports.
The second element of a compensation award, for your losses and expenses, (known as special damages) aims to put you back in a position financially as if the accident had never occurred. It is important to keep receipts for any expenditure you have related to the accident so that these can be reclaimed.
In serious injury cases, where a person is no longer able to continue their employment, this can be taken into account. Costs for care, equipment, medication and painkillers, loss of pension, transport and housing modifications can also affect the calculations.
At The Legal Line, our specialist personal injury lawyers have decades of experience in recovering compensation for the victims of accidents, industrial diseases and medical negligence.
We have helped many people who have suffered scarring, under a wide variety of circumstances, and we can provide you with expert guidance on your individual case. Contact us on 0800 0328511, or by completing a claim enquiry form online, for confidential advice on whether you can make an injury claim.
For details of some of the previous cases in which our lawyers have secured compensation for people who have been scarred due to the negligence of others, visit our personal injury news and client stories sections, or follow the links below: