This month, Metro Verdicts provides information on facial scarring settlements and verdicts in Maryland and Virginia. The median facial scarring verdicts in Maryland and Virginia are $20,000 and $32,500, respectively.
These numbers seem bizarrely low. Of course, I’m not sure about the inclusion criteria for this study. How do they define facial injuries? Are they permanent? Must they be visible? Because for what I consider facial scarring, these numbers seem shockingly low.
Remember, that these are the median verdicts and settlements. The average is invariably higher, probably at least 2 or 3 times higher for facial scars.
Sample Verdicts and Settlements
The problem with trying to value scarring injury cases with sample settlements and statistics is that there are so many variables at play. Are we talking about an 18-year-old girl (yes, gender really seems to make a difference) or are we talking about a 46-year-old man like me? But the other problem is that rarely is a facial scar the only injury that was suffered. So you are trying to peel off the other injuries to figure out the value of the permanent scar that you cannot see to compare. Tough road, right? (One bridge is to pull out a few dog bite cases because, unlike a car accident, the scar is often the only injury. )
So my usual words of caution – you can’t predict the value of your case or even the range of value of your claim by just looking at similar cases – hold particular force with the injury of a scar on your face. Still, we give you some sample verdicts and settlements because they are one weapon that you can use to get a better idea of what your case might be worth.
- 2019, Oregon: $350,000 settlement. A man biked in the bike lane in Portland. As he crossed on-ramp, a vehicle struck him. He suffered facial lacerations that lead to scarring. The man also suffered fractures to his neck, ankle, left foot, right hand, pelvis, and ribs. Besides the driver, he sued the City of Portland and the State of Oregon for operating an unsafe bike lane. He alleged negligence regarding the lane’s design and the lack of warning signs showing a bike lane crossing. The case settled for $350,000, comprising of $50,000 from the driver and $150,000 each from the City of Portland and the State of Oregon.
- 2019, Idaho: $75,000 settlement. A 4-year-old boy was at a family gathering at a relative’s home. Before the visit, the relative found a male dog while hiking and brought him home. The male dog attacked the boy. He was euthanized immediately. The boy suffered multiple facial and neck lacerations. Specifically, he suffered lacerations to his cheek, lip, and nose that ranged between one to four centimeters wide. He underwent a rabies vaccine. The boy suffered permanent scars and required facial reconstruction surgery in the future. He received a $75,000 settlement.
- 2019, Ohio: $3,977,669 verdict. The 50-something IT consultant underwent a temporary artery biopsy. She woke up from the procedure feeling pain, swelling, and paralysis to her face’s right side. The woman received a permanent facial nerve neuropathy diagnosis several months later. She also alleged that the surgery left her with facial scarring. A pain management doctor treated her with Ketamine infusions. While the infusions improved her symptoms, she continued to experience pain and hypersensitivity to her face. She also received a depression diagnosis following the surgery. The jury awarded her a $3,977,669 verdict.
- 2019, Michigan: $125,000 settlement. An 18-month-old girl walked with her mother on the sidewalk alongside their apartment complex. She fell and landed on broken glass. An ambulance transported her to a local hospital, where staff treated her forehead lacerations and scraped nose with stitches. She had her stitches removed not so long after. The girl was left with permanent scarring and discoloration to her forehead. A plastic surgeon evaluated her scars and said he could treat them in the future. She experienced no other residual limitations. The parties agreed to a $125,000 settlement.
- 2019, Washington: $12,300,000 verdict. A 13-month-old boy underwent a surgical procedure at Madigan Army Medical Center. The pediatric surgeon and anesthesiologist let concentrated oxygen contact an electrocautery device. This caused a fire that burned half the boy’s face. He suffered second and third-degree burns to about 50% of his face. This resulted in scarring and disfigurement. The boy spent over three weeks in the hospital and underwent four surgical procedures to treat his facial injuries. His parents anticipate additional surgical procedures when he is older. Following a four-day bench trial, the judge awarded the family $12,300,000.
- 2019, Texas: $26,500 verdict. A 50 something woman dogsat her friend’s dog at a home owned by the friend’s mother-in-law. On the third night, the Akita bit the woman. She suffered severe lacerations to the right side of her face. The woman visited the hospital, where the staff applied sutures. Her face remained swollen for three months. Surgeons performed a “W-plasty” scar revision to reduce her facial scarring. The surgery was unsuccessful. She then underwent about a dozen facial steroid injections every six weeks to treat her swelling and redness. One year later, she received fat injections to her face to prevent drooping and sinking. The fat came from her abdomen. This treatment was also ineffective. She underwent hyaluronic acid for four months to fill out her face. The woman then received Juvaderm injections every six months. Her scar extended from above her upper lip, down to her mouth’s right corner, and then above her lower lip. She sued her friend, her friend’s husband, and her friend’s mother-in-law. The jury returned a mixed verdict. They assigned the woman 50 percent of liability, her friend 40 percent, her friend’s husband 10 percent, and her friend’s mother-in-law 0 percent. The award totaled $26,500, but the woman could only recover $13,250 because of comparative negligence.
- 2014, North Carolina: $775,000 verdict. Plaintiff, a 20-year-old co-ed college student, suffered permanent scarring on her face, head, buttocks, arms, and legs in a car accident in Durham, North Carolina. She also suffered a broken jaw. The at-fault driver was drunk. She was hospitalized for nine days. She lost a semester of school at Carolina Central University and lost her softball scholarship. In a bench trial, the judge awarded her $775,000. State Farm paid some of the award as uninsured motorist benefits. This verdict is bizarre on a lot of levels. Two-thirds of the verdict — was punitive damages. So only $250,000 in compensation for these injuries? Ridiculous. How much of this was from the facial scar? How serious was the scar? Again, that is the problem, and I have no idea. To give you some idea of the severity of the injuries, this girl had $101,073.16 in medical bills. State Farm.
- 2014, California: $925,000 settlement. A 25-year-old woman is hit by a dump truck that had crossed the center line. It gets worse, believe it or not. The truck landed on top of her vehicle. She suffered a facial scar and injuries to her head, neck, and right foot. Her neck problems were serious, but in this case, the scar to her face seems like a critical part of her case. The dump truck’s insurance company, Progressive, agreed to a $925,000 settlement with the victim at mediation before trial.
2014, Texas: $106,000 settlement. An eight-year-old girl and her mother were at a relative’s house for Mother’s Day weekend festivities. Another family member brought her dogs, two Labrador mixes, and invited the child to see the dog. But the dogs had been locked up all day and were particularly agitated. One dog, aptly named Bear, bit Katie. She had a laceration on her face and medical bills of $17,000. She had a scar on her face and arm. The scar on her face was a red line about the length and width of a crayon. She said a future scar revision would be about $8,500. It is unclear what the scar might look like after the surgery. She sued; awkwardly I’m sure, against the relative. The injury was covered under the relative’s homeowner’s policy (which few people understand usually extends coverage far beyond the home). The defense argument from Amica Insurance: the scar will go away at some point. The case settled for $106,000.
- 2013, North Carolina: $50,000. Another dog bite case involving an 8-year-old. The child was bitten in the face by a German Shepherd, leaving permanent scarring. The child needed 12 stitches in her face that led to some permanent scarring that resembled a dimple in her cheek after the stitches were removed. The child had scar revision surgery that helped some, but the dimple-like scar is still there. Obviously, in the word of scars on your face, a “dimple-like” scar is one of the least problematic.
Get a Free Evaluation of Your Claim
I have handled scores of cases that have involved these kinds of awful scars. If you want to get a free online consultation to get a better idea of the value of your case, fill out this brief case evaluation form and I (or another attorney here) will get back to you immediately with my thoughts on your potential claim.