October 2, 2023

Recovering Damages for Scarring and Disfigurement

A medical malpractice lawsuit was recently filed in southern Illinois by a woman who claims that her doctor performed an unnecessary and costly surgery, which resulted in scarring and disfigurement. The doctor-defendant allegedly misdiagnosed the plaintiff as having one type of abscess (batholin gland), when in fact she suffered from a different type of abscess (vulva abscess). At the doctor-defendant’s recommendation, she underwent surgery to remove what was thought to correct the abscess which she did not in fact have. Not only was this surgery unnecessary, it failed to correct the abscess from which she did suffer, which continued unaddressed.

Moreover, the surgery left the plaintiff substantially disfigured. The term disfigurement implies the loss of a limb, burns, or scars. The plaintiff’s disfigurement, which was only a result of the surgery, not the condition itself, led to a multitude of damages, such as increased medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages.

The case is still pending but it raises a good question: Under what category of damages do scarring and disfigurement fall? Scarring and disfigurement can actually fall under two categories: special and general. Special damages are easily determined monetary damages, consisting of medical expenses, lost wages, long-term care costs, and lost future earnings. Special damages can also include costs that aren’t as easily quantified, such as a loss in the quality of life, decreased self-esteem, and psychological damages. General damages, on the other hand, are less predictable, and can include compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. Because significant disfigurement can affect the victim in many ways, the resulting damages can fall into either or both categories.

Whether or not you may be entitled to damages for scarring and disfigurement will depend on the extent of your disfigurement, the impact the disfigurement has had on your overall well-being, and whether the disfigurement. Calculating damages for disfigurement is a complicated and imprecise endeavor, and will largely depend on how the jury perceives your injury.


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