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What Should You Know About Scarring in a Personal Injury Case

Based on my experience representing clients with scarring, I ask clients to keep in mind two “Ps”: Pictures and Prognostication.

Pictures at the time the scar was sustained and pictures of the scarring after some time has passed are very important for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, this means that the client will need to have taken pictures of the scarring within days of the accident. Pictures taken immediately, when the injury is in its “acute” stage are often graphic and should be in the plaintiff lawyer’s arsenal for effective representation. If there is no attorney, however, and if the client has not taken pictures, that will be an opportunity that is likely lost. I say likely because there is yet one more source: the hospital in which the person treated often takes photographs. If cosmetics is involved, increasingly medical providers want to preserve the situation by photographs.

The second P, Prognostication, comes primarily from an expert. As with virtually every personal injury case, you need medical experts to establish causality, prognosis and impairment. In a scarring case, we especially want to determine the permanence of the scar. If the scarring is indeed permanent, we will want to know whether it will get better with time, and, if so, how much better. The salient medical question will be whether the scar has “matured”. If so, then we know how it will look in the future.

We will also want to know whether certain surgical procedures are available to improve the condition of the scar. If the answer to that inquiry is yes, then it will be important to know what the fees will be for the surgery. This will include the surgeon’s fee, the anesthesiologist’s fee and the facility’s fee. These are fair questions because they come under the rubric of reasonably anticipated medical costs. The inquiry does not stop there, however. We want to know how improved the scar will be by any procedure. This essentially requires a verbal description by the medical expert but it could be enhanced by some sort of physical rendering. In conclusion, a scarring case requires a careful and thorough exploration of the past, the present and the future.

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