When making a claim for personal injury, the plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. This injury can be either mental, physical, or both. If the claim is successful, the ruling court may award the plaintiff money damages for personal injury. These will be further discussed later on.
Mental health injuries include emotional pain and anguish sustained in an accident, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). Physical injuries can include injuries to organs, limbs, or other parts of the anatomy. It is important to note that in order to make a personal injury claim, the injury sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, and may develop over time.
A personal injury incident may occur intentionally, such as when a defendant deliberately injures a victim, or intends to commit an act that results in injury to the victim. A personal injury may also occur unintentionally. Additionally, if an unintentional injury is the result of someone’s negligence, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit based on the negligent behavior. Some of the most common examples of negligence cases include, but are not limited to:
- Auto accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents; and
- Injuries sustained from medical malpractice.
What Is Scarring And Disfigurement?
Scarring and disfigurement, especially as they occur in the facial area, can unfortunately diminish career growth and prevent future employment opportunities. It can sometimes affect social lives and marriage arrangements, and can result in lifelong emotional pain. Even if scarring and disfigurement does not cause any practical restrictions in bodily movement or performance, legal action may be taken in order to recover damages.
Some personal injury cases may focus on scarring and disfigurement as the main aspect of the case. In other cases, the person may have also sustained other injuries in addition to the scarring or disfigurement. An example of this would be a case involving a vehicle accident which can result in many different injuries in addition to scarring and/or disfigurement.
There are numerous different types of scarring and disfigurement lawsuits, including lawsuits associated with:
- Burns: This is the most common type of disfigurement lawsuit as it includes fires, chemical burns, and hot liquid. The makers of industrial and cleaning products that cause chemical, mechanical, and heat abrasions and burns may be held liable for such injuries. This is especially true when the responsible parties failed to include adequate warning regarding the dangers associated with the use of the product;
- Road Rash: Road rash occurs when someone slides across the asphalt after a collision, generally involving a motorcycle, that was not necessarily the victim’s fault;
- Discharging Airbags: Because airbags are made of a rough, canvas-like material, they can cause facial abrasions and burns when they are deployed in a collision;
- Dog Bites: The dog’s owner may be liable for dog or other animal attacks that cause scarring and/or disfigurement;
- Fractures and Amputations: This type of disfigurement is more likely to result in bodily movement or performance restrictions. Fractures can result from a wide variety of accidents. In terms of amputations, a claim would most likely be made if the amputation would not have been necessary but for the actions of the person responsible for the accident; and
- Product Liability: Product liability, such as defective products, can cause scarring and disfigurement, especially for children and infant products. As such, product liability is a considerably broad aspect of personal injury law and can address many different injury scenarios.
What Are The Legal Remedies For Scarring And Disfigurement Lawsuits?
There are various parties that can be held liable in a scarring and disfigurement case, depending on the specific circumstances. An example of this would be how multiple parties can be held liable if multiple parties are involved in a vehicle collision.
An injured plaintiff who proves that a defendant is liable is entitled to compensatory damages. According to personal injury law, a plaintiff can recover two types of damages: damages for an injury, and damages for the consequences of the injury. Additionally, there are two different types of compensatory damages, which are known as general damages and specific damages.
General damages are damages that are awarded for the injury itself. These damages generally include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish; and
It is important to note that general damages cannot be readily assigned a monetary value. As such, in order to recover these damages, the testimony of an expert is necessary to assign a monetary value. An example of such a professional would be a physician or psychiatrist.
Special damages are damages that compensate someone for a specific consequence of their injury. Specific consequences most commonly include medical expenses and loss of wages. These items can be assigned a precise monetary value. An example of this would be how a doctor’s bill lists payment due, while a pay stub can be used to determine the amount of wages that were lost due to injury.
Scarring and disfigurement cases may result in major losses experienced by the injured party. Long-term injuries and effects can often be involved in these types of cases, such as the previously mentioned PTSD.
For scarring and disfigurement lawsuits specifically, the legal remedy will generally involve a monetary damages award. The damages award is intended to cover costs such as:
- Hospital stay expenses;
- Costs of medication and medicines;
- Surgery costs;
- Loss of future income or loss of future earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering costs; and/or
- Loss of consortium.
What Else Should I Know About Personal Injury In General?
To reiterate, a negligence personal injury claim involves a plaintiff claiming that a defendant injured the plaintiff as a result of breaching the duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. If the plaintiff can prove that this breach caused injury, which then resulted in damages, the plaintiff’s claim will be successful.
The duty of care that is owed to a plaintiff largely depends on the circumstances. This is because a defendant is under a legal duty to exercise the same degree of care that an ordinary person would use under a particular set of facts.
An example of this would be if the defendant is driving their vehicle on a highway in non-inclement weather. The defendant has a duty to adhere to the motor vehicle laws of their state. However, if the defendant is driving their vehicle on a one-lane road when the weather is inclement, they owe a greater duty of care. What this means is that the defendant must exercise that degree of care that is appropriate for inclement weather.
Whether a duty of care to a plaintiff exists depends upon the foreseeability, or predictability, of harm that may result if the duty is not exercised. The legal test for whether a plaintiff is owed a duty of care can take the form of the following question: would an average person, in the position of the defendant, foresee that the type of injury sustained by the plaintiff was likely to occur?
When the answer is affirmative, the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. If the defendant breaches that duty which causes an injury resulting in damages, the defendant has committed personal injury through negligence. When the answer to the test is negative, then no duty is owed, and the defendant cannot have committed negligence.
Do I Need An Attorney For Scarring And Disfigurement Lawsuits?
If you have been injured in an accident or may have injured someone else, you should consult with an experienced and local personal injury lawyer. An area attorney will be best suited to helping you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws. An attorney will also be able to represent you in court as needed.