In many ways scar injury claims are different to other personal injury claims because while unlikely to physically stop a person from working, or impacting their wider life, scars can have a profound effect on a persons mental state. While many injury compensation claims focus on the actual physical injury the situation regarding compensation for scarring can relate to mental injury as opposed to physical injury. It is also worth noting that scarring is commonly referred to as a “secondary injury” which is a consequence of a previous injury but that should not deflect from the impact it can have on a person’s life.
Common Types Of Scarring Injuries
The most common types of injury which can result in permanent scarring are extremely varied and include:
- Lacerations sustained in road traffic accidents or workplace accidents.
- Scald or burn injuries which can cause deep damage to the skin.
- Dermatitis caused by repeated exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.
- Friction burns, often associated with fibrous material such as carpets, which wear down the skin around the elbows, knees, arms and hands.
- Injuries sustained as a consequence of an assault.
As a point of reference, when pursuing specific compensation for scar injuries it is worth noting that the courts will not take into account the original injury from which the scar later emerged. In reality, where negligence has been proven with regards to the original injury this would be addressed under a specific compensation claim. So, as far as scar compensation goes any award will reflect the severity of the scarring and the area of the body affected.
In order to pursue a scar injury claim it is imperative that negligence is proven for the original injury from which the scarring arose. Many people dismiss the impact of scars and other face/body marks on a person’s life but in some cases they can be life changing.
Assessing The Likelihood Of Scarring
While there are obvious injuries which are more likely to result in scarring than others, this is not an exact science therefore one or more medical reports will be required to support a scar injury claim. There are many factors to take into consideration when assessing whether an injury is likely to result in scarring but the most prominent relates the depth of the injury itself. The greater the damage to the various layers of skin the more chance of scarring although other issues such as age, gender and lifestyle can also play a role.
In order to assess whether to pursue a scar injury claim, as a result of a primary injury, your personal injury solicitor will request at least one or more medical reports. Specialists such as cosmetic surgeons will be asked to:
- Assess the severity of the injury.
- Refer to photographs showing the primary injury and subsequent scarring.
- Describe in detail the degree of scarring visible and likely to emerge in the future.
- Clarify whether the scar is a source of pain or discomfort for the claimant.
- Summarise their professional opinion of future symptoms.
- Consider whether additional treatment such as surgery, skin grafts or laser treatment might be required.
In many cases a psychological assessment will also be requested which will review:
- The impact on an individual’s working life.
- Personality changes.
- Anxiety, depression and other conditions common with such injuries.
- The impact on a person’s personal life.
The medical and psychological reports will play a major role in pursuing legitimate scar injury claims for scarring compensation and will attempt to lay bare the impact on an individual’s physical and mental well-being. There is a significant distinction between scarring on more visible areas of the face and those which are not normally visible to the wider public. The most obvious area to cause maximum discomfort from a mental point of view is the face. In some instances the impact of scarring can be reduced somewhat by the use of appropriate make up but this is not always the case.
Proving Liability In Scar Injury Claims
The first step in a scar injury claim is to prove negligence with regards to the primary injury and, whether pursuing compensation at the same time or afterwards, this will form the basis of any claim. The legal responsibility of various parties involved in the initial accident will have to be addressed and prove that:
- The defendant(s) had a duty of care towards the claimant.
- The defendant(s) breached that duty by carrying out a specific action or failing to do so.
- The negligence of the defendant(s) resulted in the initial injury which subsequently led to the scarring.
There may well be instances where one or more third parties were potentially negligent with regards to the initial injury and the subsequent scarring. In this instance, the claimant will need to name all potentially liable parties and it will be up to the courts to rule on different levels of negligence. Just because an individual is not able to clarify the level of negligence of each party does not mean that they cannot lodge a scarring injury claim for compensation.
Scar Injury Compensation Amounts
There are two main types of compensation to consider in a scar injury claim which are general damages and special damages with guidance offered by the Judicial College. The Judicial College is a body which is respected by the courts and insurance companies offering guidance on personal injury related compensation claims. The guidelines which are set take into account the severity of the scar injury, the depth of the injury and the area of the body which has been impacted. They also consider potential treatment required in the long-term to address the impact of the scarring.
These guidelines relate directly to general damages with the following advice:
Compensation Amounts For Non-Facial Scars
- Compensation for visible but relatively unnoticeable single large scars or multiple smaller scars to the limbs or torso might payout £1,800 to £5,950.
- Compensation payouts for larger more noticeable scars to the chest, legs, back and arms would be expected to be around £5,950 to £17,275.
- Scarring from severe burns would attract a higher payout. Where scars form burns are covering 40% or more of the body the compensation amount would likely exceed £79,000.
The level of general damages can be significantly increased in a scar injury claim if the scarring has occurred on the face which has been known to have the greatest psychological impact on a person’s well-being. Before we look at the compensation guidance issued by the Judicial College it is worth noting that they take into account:
- The severity of the facial scarring with more visible scarring attracting higher compensation.
- While some might disagree, facial disfigurement and scarring in women tends to attract a greater level of compensation than men.
- The age of the claimant is taken into account with a greater level of compensation the younger the individual, simply because they will need to live with the impact for longer.
Specific financial guidelines in relation to facial injuries are as follows:
Compensation Amounts For Facial Scars
- £1,300 to £2,675 for minor facial scars.
- Facial scarring that is not prominent except on closer inspection and facial scarring that is visible from a short distance can attract compensation payouts of around £3,000 to £22,875 for a woman and £3,000 to £13,650 for a man.
- Severe facial scarring can lead to damages of up to £50,000 for a man and up to £74,000 for a woman
While the Judicial College compensation guidelines are not legally binding they are well respected by the courts and insurance companies. It is only general damages where there is an element of discretion which would reflect the specific nature of a scar injury claim. The second type of compensation is known as special damages and includes:
- Loss of earnings if you require time off work.
- Future loss of earnings.
- Medical expenses for the scar injury.
- Future medical expenses.
In effect special damages are a reimbursement of costs incurred as a direct consequence of the scarring together with funding for future costs. There is no real discretion with regards to special damages but where for example the victim had a blossoming modelling career there may well be significant compensation relating to loss of earnings and future loss of earnings.
Lodging A Scar Injury Claim
In order to review the strength of a potential scar injury claim, as a consequence of a primary injury, details of the original injury, medical reports and a psychological analysis would be required. They should be passed to your personal injury solicitor who will be able to advise you whether there is a case for scarinjury compensation and how this should be pursued.
In the event that you have a strong claim for scar injury compensation you will almost certaainly be offered a No Win No Fee arrangement whereby no upfront legal costs will be due but a prearranged share of any compensation will be paid as a success fee. Many people forget that No Win No Fee arrangements serve a very important purpose in the world of personal injury claims. They allow those with strong compensation claims but perhaps limited funding to cover legal costs to still hold negligent parties to account. While the endgame is compensation for the claimant it is also worth noting that successful legal actions often result in a change of working practices and increased safety for employees and individuals going forward.
A report detailing the initial injury, scar injury and compensation claim will be lodged with the courts with a copy given to the defendant(s). Where negligence has been proven with the initial injury, and there is medical evidence to back up the claims of scarring, there will likely be an out-of-court settlement to save legal costs. There will be times where negligence is disputed, or various parties are in disagreement about their role in the initial injury and subsequent scarring, with these claims likely ending up before the courts.
For an expert opinion on a scar injury claim contact us today.