What to Do if You Have Suffered From Scarring or Disfigurement

On average, over 100 million patients acquire scars across the developed world each year. These scars can be caused by various problems during a medical procedure or surgery. There are 55 million elective surgeries and 25 million procedures after trauma-related accidents. Some of these medical procedures can cause substantial problems, which lead to scarring that can last a lifetime.

Too often, traumatic injuries result in lasting injuries, like scarring and disfigurement. Whether it is from an automobile accident, heavy machinery accident, dog bite, burn, or amputation, visible scarring and disfigurement can be embarrassing and, in some cases, can permanently change a person’s life. It can deprive them of particular jobs and their overall quality of life, whether it be the loss of friends or potential partners.

A person's challenges after suffering an accident that results in scarring and disfigurement can be devastating. If you have been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, consult an experienced attorney who has the experience in cases like yours. At The Cochran Firm, our personal injury attorneys understand the significant challenges scarring and disfigurement can cause a victim. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. 

What is Scarring and Disfigurement?

Suffering any type of injury can cause immediate, physical damage that can be devastating, but many people don’t think of the lasting complications these traumatic injuries leave. Many patients who suffer injuries are left with permanent imperfections–scars and disfigurements– that serve as a physical reminder of their situation's trauma and emotional harm. 


Scars are a natural part of the body’s healing process and result from the biological function of wound repair within the skin and surrounding tissues. Scars form when a deep, thick layer of the skin (dermis) is damaged. Most scars, except for minor ones, result in some extent of scarring. 

Scars result from the skin being opened and wounded due to an accident or surgical operation. They may occur following an injury from an automobile accident, animal attack, or other serious accident; however, they may arise from an utterly uneventful injury, such as a minor scrape or cut. 

Scars may look thick and red, but the majority fade and heal over time. Several factors influence the way a scar will ultimately look, like the type, location, size, and severity of the injury, how the injury was treated, and genetic factors. There are three different types of scars, including:

  • Keloid Scars: These scars are usually the result of an overly aggressive healing process. They go beyond the original injury and, over time, can hinder movement. Treatments for keloid scars can include surgery to remove the scar, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten out the scar. Smaller keloids can be treated using cryotherapy (a therapy that freezes the scar using liquid nitrogen). To prevent keloids from forming, you can use pressure treatment or gel pads with silicone when you become injured. Keloid scars are most common among individuals with darker skin.
  • Contracture Scars: A contracture scar often forms when your skin has been burned. These scars will tighten the skin, inhibiting your ability to move. These scars also go deeper than the surface, sometimes affecting muscles and nerves. 
  • Hypertrophic Scars: These red, raised scars are similar to keloids but do not travel beyond the border of the injury. Treatments include steroid injections to reduce the inflammation of the scar or silicone sheet injections to flatten the scar.

The look of a fully healed scar can be enhanced by surgical procedures, dermabrasion, laser treatment, topical treatments, radiotherapy, microdermabrasion, microneedling, and more. However, a scar will never resemble the appearance of the skin before the injury occurred. For many people, scars remind people of a painful time in their lives and can drastically change their quality of life if the scar is on a rather prominent part of the body like the face, chest, or extremities. 


Disfigurement is the state of a person’s appearance that is deeply and persistently harmed medically by a birth defect, disease, or wound. For example, a burn, scar, skin texture, missing body limb, or an abnormally-shaped body part can affect a person’s appearance. Disfigurement can lead to depression, negative body images, constant concern about other people's reactions to the disfigurement, difficulties in one's social, sexual, and professional lives, and other issues.

A variety of accidents, including automobile accidents, heavy machinery accidents, animal attacks, amputation, burns, etc., can all lead to a person becoming disfigured. Acts of violence, such as assault, can also lead to disfigurement. Along with the initial injury that caused the disfigurement, which is traumatic enough, the physical reminder of your trauma can create additional emotional and mental stress that sometimes leads to depression or suicidal thoughts. 

Cosmetic surgeries, such as plastic or reconstructive surgery can often help a person minimize the look of the disfigurement. Although surgery can sometimes fix the disfigurement altogether, that is not always the case. In addition, these surgeries are expensive and, in many cases, extremely risky. Being able to recoup financial compensation after an injury has occurred can go a long way towards fully and healthily recovering from that injury and any lasting physical complications that may go with it. 

Types of Accidents That Cause Scars & Disfigurement

Most accidents can lead to scarring of any part of the body. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Fires: Fires can lead to burns, the most common type of fire-related injury. When the body becomes exposed to extreme heat, tissue damage occurs, often leading to severe scarring and disfigurement. There are four degrees of seriousness used to identify burns:
    • First-degree: the mildest type of burn that only affects the top layer of the skin. Typically heals within a few days of the burn.
    • Second-degree: this burn damages a deeper layer of skin. Usually, second-degree burns blister the skin, are very painful and may take a few weeks to heal.
    • Third-degree: third-degree burns damage all layers of skin. Sometimes, these burns are not as painful because of the damage to underlying nerves. These burns will not heal without medical treatment and can require surgery and skin grafts.
    • Fourth-degree: the most severe type of burn a person can face. These burns functionally destroy each layer of skin, causing muscle, bone, and nerve damage. They can be life-threatening and often require amputation and multiple surgeries.
  • Defective Products: When a defective product, such as a defective vehicle, airplane, medical device, workplace product, etc., are faulty, it can cause severe damage. These products can malfunction at any time and cause lacerations, loss of limbs, and other life-threatening injuries that often leave lasting scarring and disfigurement.
  • Explosions: The burns that are caused by explosions can be very severe, leading to permanent and sometimes life-threatening scarring and disfigurements. Explosions can also lead to first, second, third, and fourth-degree burns. Some of the most common explosion burns are due to:
    • Natural gas explosions
    • Improperly stored chemicals
    • Electronic cigarette explosions
    • Defective phone batteries
  • Medical Malpractice: When a victim suffers an injury because of the negligence of a medical professional or surgical error that could have been prevented, severe scarring and disfigurement can occur. Medical malpractice can lead to unnecessary limb loss, life-threatening injuries, and permanent (and unnecessary) scarring and disfigurement.
  • Falls: Falls from high surfaces, rough terrain, or hazardous conditions can be detrimental. They can cause severe puncture wounds or even the loss of a limb when an object pierces a victim after falling to a lower level. 
  • Animal attacks, including dog bites: Attacks from animals such as cats, dogs, snakes, horses, cows, and other pets, can result in permanent scars from puncture wounds, scratches, and lacerations. 
  • Being hit by an object on someone else’s property: When a victim is on another person’s property, and there are no proper warning signs of possible dangers, they can become severely injured. When hit with a large or sharp object, the victim can suffer from minor to severe laceration and puncture wounds leading to permanent scarring and disfigurement.
  • Being exposed to hazardous chemicals/toxins: When in close contact with skin, dangerous chemicals and toxins can cause severe burns due to their highly corrosive nature. These burns can also be first, second, third, or fourth-degree burns and typically result in visible scarring and disfigurement.
  • Construction accidents: Construction accidents happen often and result in minor to severe injuries. Falling objects, falls from high surfaces, caught between accidents, fire and explosions, electrical accidents, and defective equipment are all types of accidents that can result in burns, lacerations, and limb loss. Burns can range from first-degree to fourth-degree, causing severe scarring and disfigurement. Lacerations and limb loss can cause serious scars and disfigurement as well.
  • Heavy machinery/equipment accidents: Typically occurring on construction sites, heavy machinery and equipment accidents can be detrimental or even fatal. Because of the size and weight of heavy machinery, it can result in limb loss or severe lacerations to its operator or those within close distance to the machine. Too many times, heavy machinery and equipment injury victims are left with lasting scars and disfigurement.
  • Automobile Accidents (motorcycle, truck, car, etc.): Automobile accidents can cause severe lacerations and cuts from shattered glass and airbag explosions. Scars can be from the original injury or result from the extensive healing process, such as surgery scars.

All of the accidents above can cause a victim not only physical damage but also emotional damage. Many of the injuries that these victims face will result in long-term care, whether that be multiple surgeries, continued therapy (both mental and physical), or a combination of both. 

If the accident you suffered from is not listed above, it does not mean you do not have a scarring and disfigurement case. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today. 

Liability and Damages

Like many other personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff trying to recoup damages from scarring and disfigurement that were the result of an accident caused by another party must establish four elements by a prevalence of the evidence:

  • Duty: A duty arises when it is legally recognized that a relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff exists, requiring the defendant to act in a particular manner, typically with a standard of care, toward the plaintiff. A judge will determine whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff and most times will find that a duty, in fact, does exist if a reasonable person would find that a duty exists in similar circumstances.
  • Breach of duty: It is not enough to simply prove that another person owed you a duty. An injury lawyer must also be able to prove that the negligent party breached their duty to the plaintiff. A defendant breaches their duty by failing to exercise reasonable care when performing the duty. Unlike the question of whether or not a duty exists, the issue of whether a defendant breached a duty of care is decided by a jury. 
  • Causation: Causation requires that the plaintiff show that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of their injury. There is no question that someone can act negligently; however, the plaintiff must show that negligence was the only cause of the injury in order to recover damages. This element also looks at whether or not the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that their actions would have caused an injury. If the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury through a random, unexpected act of nature, the injury will most likely not be considered unforeseeable. Meaning the defendant will not likely be found liable.
  • Damages: The final element is “damages.” This requires that the court be able to compensate the plaintiff for their injury, through economic and sometimes non-economic compensation.

Both noneconomic and economic damages are available for scarring and disfigurement victims. The financial portion of damages usually includes medical bills, loss of income, and future loss of income. 

Noneconomic damages are typically composed of pain and suffering as well as mental anguish. These damages will vary depending on what a juror believes is a natural reaction to the standard and location of the scarring or disfigurement that a victim has suffered.

The value of a scar or disfigurement will be different for everyone. Each insurance company and its adjusters will see the value of a victim's scar or disfigurement much different than the victim. However, some factors that are considered when deciding what the value of any scar or disfigurement is, include:

  • The age of the injured victim
  • If the scar or disfigurement is permanent
  • The gender and marital status of the victim
  • Where the scar or disfigurement is located on the body
  • The color, size, and visibility 

If you can prove that your scarring and disfigurement were due to the negligence of another party, that party can most likely be held liable for any damage you have already suffered as well as future corrective damages they may face. If you are unsure of the cause of your injury, contact our trusted attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Scarring and Disfigurement Damages Allowed

If you are injured in a way that leads to permanent scarring and disfigurement because of another person’s negligence, you most likely will be able to make a claim for damages. You could potentially be entitled to:

  • Medical costs associated with treatment. These costs can include bills from:
    • Doctors that have treated underlying problems
    • Plastic surgeons who performed reconstructive surgeries
    • Psychologists and psychiatrists who helped the victim with their emotional damage
  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Lost earnings from the days you were not able to work or from future loss of wages

The monetary figure of the damage will depend on:

  • Which body part was affected
  • How deep, long, and severe the wound was
  • The change in the victim’s quality of life

Scarring and disfigurement can considerably change a person's life. The treatments they will need are pricey, may need to be repeated, and could potentially not result in any significant improvement. Even with care from top-rated medical professionals, scarring and disfigurement victims can still suffer life-long changes to their appearance. 

Sometimes a disfigured victim may need counseling/therapy for their emotional distress, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. Scarring and disfigurement are among the kind of severe and permanent injuries that sometimes allow an automobile accident victim to seek non-economic damages rather than only economic damages through their own no-fault benefits. 

The settlement of a scar or disfigurement case will vary depending on the characteristics of the accident victim. For example, insurance companies and jurors will treat a young lady with a facial scar differently than someone who suffers scarring on their abdomen. It is assumed that young women will undergo more significant stress due to their altered appearance. Furthermore, the face can be harder to treat because the tissues and muscles are more complicated in this part of the body. In addition, an accident victim whose career depends on her appearance, such as a model or actress, can most times recover a larger amount of noneconomic damages than a more introverted, elderly, or male accident victim.

If you have suffered a scar or disfigurement, it is essential to ensure that your doctor has documented it in your medical records and has recorded if there is a permanent or remaining effect. It is also crucial for your doctor to note if it has caused you to lose mobility in the affected area. These medical records will support your claim to the defendant’s insurance company or the jury for the compensation you are pursuing. The more documented evidence you have against the negligent party, the better your chances are to collect the compensation you deserve.

At The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys have what it takes to fight for the compensation that you deserve. We understand the devastation that scarring and disfigurement leave and how they can affect your life. If you or a loved one has suffered from scarring or disfigurement, contact our personal injury attorneys today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

Johnnie Cochran had long dreamed of creating a national law firm of men and women from all races, religions, creeds, and backgrounds to show how well we could all work together to make the world a better place. When Mr. Cochran started The Cochran Firm, his mission was “a journey to justice.” Today, with more than 35 offices across more than 20 states, the attorneys at The Cochran Firm work every day to fulfill that dream and continue that mission by working for our clients with the same work ethic and dedication to justice exemplified by Mr. Johnnie Cochran himself.

The Cochran Firm is a diverse group of highly skilled and experienced lawyers that are dedicated to bringing high-quality representation to injured people and their families. Our experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most recognized and successful attorneys in the country. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. Our attorneys at The Cochran Firm know how to fight for you.

Here at The Cochran Firm, each of our attorneys is ready to help victims receive the maximum compensation and financial recovery for all of their pain and sufferings. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided.

You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. The Cochran Firm’s results have been well documented and demonstrated both in the courtroom and at settlement conferences. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.

If you’re looking for an experienced personal injury attorney to help you pursue justice for your scarring and disfigurement, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation. We serve the entire country with offices in many major U.S. cities.