In any motor vehicle collision, a person may suffer a range of serious or even fatal injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.5 million Americans were treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries in a single year. For every 1 person who was killed in an accident in that year, 8 people were hospitalized, and 100 people were treated and released from the emergency room.
When we talk about people being hurt in car accidents, the focus is often on the types of injuries that are physically debilitating, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and whiplash. Yet other types of injuries can take a tremendous toll on a car accident victim, long after they have technically recovered from the collision. This includes scarring, which can negatively impact a person’s emotional AND physical well-being.
If you have scarring as a result of a California car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. An at-fault driver can be held financially responsible for all of the losses that you suffered in a crash, including scarring and disfigurement. An experienced San Rafael car accident attorney can help you recover for scarring and other injuries.
Causes of Scarring in Car Accidents
A motor vehicle accident can cause any number of injuries, many of which can lead to scarring. These scars may be caused by:
- Cuts and lacerations from shattered glass or debris
- Severely broken bones
- Surgical procedures needed to treat injuries
Scarring can occur on any part of the body. Facial scarring is often considered the most challenging type of disfigurement to overcome, but a scar on another place on the body can be both physically and psychologically damaging.
There are three main types of scars that may occur after an accident: keloid, hypertrophic, and contracture scars. Keloid scars are large, thick, and may spread beyond the original injury site. They occur when the body continues to produce collagen after an injury has healed.
Hypertrophic scars are similar in appearance to keloid scars, but their growth is confined to the boundaries of the original wound. They usually start to develop within weeks after an injury, and can also impact mobility.
Contractures are an abnormal type of scar that occurs when a large area of skin is damaged and lost. As the scar forms, the edges of the skin are pulled together, which can affect muscles, joints, and tendons. They are most common after burns.
There are a number of treatments available from scars, including surgical removal, steroid injections, and the use of creams, ointments, and gels. However, some scars are resistant to treatment and may never fully go away.
How Scarring Can Affect Your Life
Each year, millions of Americans suffer scarring. These scars come from a variety of sources, such as surgery and medical treatment, burns, and traumatic events like motor vehicle accidents. Any type of scarring can impact an injury victim’s quality of life.
Scars are the physical sign of an injury. In other words, a scar exists because an injury has occurred, and the body is attempting to repair the skin. After an injury, the body produces collagen to reconnect tissues that have broken apart. In some cases, scars do not heal to a fine line that is white or silver in color but will remain visibly different from surrounding skin in size, color, contour, and texture.
There are a variety of physical issues associated with scars. They can severe itching, tenderness, and pain. If a scar continues to grow, it can limit movement and even be disabling.
For example, hypertrophic scars and keloids can cause contractures, particularly when they occur over a joint. A contracture can prevent movement, limit the range of motion, and cause deformity.
According to a recent study, scarring can affect individuals far beyond any physical limitations that may occur. A person’s emotional and mental health may suffer due to scarring in a number of ways, including:
- Increased anxiety and self-consciousness
- Loss of self-esteem
- Impaired social functioning
- Decreased emotional well-being
- Sleep disturbance
- Post-traumatic stress reactions
- Diminished quality of life
These psychological effects are not related to the severity of the scar. In other words, even a person with relatively mild scarring may suffer from any or all of these issues.
Recovering Compensation for Scarring from a Car Accident
If your California car accident was caused by another driver, then you are entitled to compensation for your injuries — including for scarring or disfigurement. A settlement or award in a motor vehicle collision lawsuit may include money for:
- Medical expenses for treating the injury that caused the scar
- Past and future medical care for healing the scar
- Counseling and therapy to address the emotional impact of the scarring
- Medications to deal with the psychological impact of the scarring
- Lost wages for the time you had to take off of work due to your injuries and/or scarring
- Reduced earning potential if your scars or other injuries limit your ability to work
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
These claims are supported by evidence that can be used to show both the financial and emotional effects of your scarring. For example, testimony or records from a counselor or therapist describing how the scars have affected your mental health can be used to support a demand for compensation for emotional distress. Similarly, friends and family may testify that your personality has changed after the car accident due to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, anxiety, or other issues.
In any car accident case, it is important to work with a California personal injury attorney who understands how to handle these claims. Putting together a full picture of the losses that you have suffered is vital to recovering the compensation that you need to heal physically and emotionally. If the other driver’s insurance company balks at paying you what you deserve, an experienced lawyer can take your case to trial to get a fair award.
Hurt in an Accident? We’re Here to Help.
Being in a car crash can be a traumatic experience. If you have visible reminders of your injuries, such as scarring, it can affect your quality of life and overall well-being. In these situations, a San Rafael car accident attorney can advocate for your right to compensation.
Kuvara Law Firm has represented clients throughout Northern California since 1971. With law offices throughout the region, we are well-positioned to help injury victims get the money that they are entitled to under California law. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 415-479-7070, or email us.