The risk of scarring after a dog bite is very real, and unfortunately, victims can be left with a lifelong reminder of the incident. It is rare that a dog bite is a “down-and-up” puncture wound — dogs usually clamp down, shake their heads or pull away, producing tearing injuries above and below the skin.
Our immune system then kicks in to fight off infections that may set in. But this immune response often exacerbates the severity of the scar that sets in afterwards.
There are two types of scars most commonly associated with dog bites:
- Keloid scars: These are the result of an aggressive healing process and tend to exceed the dimensions of the original wound. They are raised off the skin, and may affect mobility.
- Hypertrophic scars: These are raised and red scars made up mostly of collagen, and are not as disfiguring as keloid scars. These scars can be treated using a variety of methods to decrease the visibility.
Surgical Treatment for Dog Bite Scarring
If you are wondering about treatment for your scarring, you should first contact a doctor. Dog bite attack victims may be candidates for surgery or other medical procedures to help lessen the outward effects of a dog bite scar. Some people may want to get rid of the scar completely; others want to simply lessen its visibility or severity.
There are several different types of surgery used to treat and revise a dog bite scar, including:
- Skin grafts: This is a type of surgery that involves moving skin from one part of the body to another. Often only used in critical circumstances, skin grafts cover a large portion of skin or scars in exposed areas, such as the face.
- Dermabrasion or laser surgery: Dermabrasion involves shaving off upper layers of a scar to lessen its effects. Dermabrasion is typically performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon with the goal of creating a smoother surface.
- Scar revision: In some cases, a surgeon will recreate the incision and move the skin around to make the scar less visible.
The above procedures are used to lessen the visible effects of a dog bite scar. There are other techniques and surgeries for victims with injuries to the extremities that attempt to regain range of motion.
The Psychological Effect of Scarring
While scars are a normal part of the healing process for dog bite victims, they often are a harsh reminder of the attack and the suffering.
When scars are in highly visible places such as a person’s face, arms, chest, or legs, the psychological impact can be even greater. These scars can affect a person’s self esteem and confidence, and may require counseling to overcome.
Dog bite victims may feel angry, depressed, embarrassed, anxious, scared, or any other type of unusual feeling after an attack. Bad scars may make those feelings worse. In some cases, victims of a dog bite attack — no matter how severe — may even experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Scars act as a constant bookmark to a person’s dog bite attack in their life. Surgery may lessen the visible effects, but the emotional effects can linger long afterwards.
Financial Compensation for Dog Bite Scars
Surgical treatment for dog bite scar injuries can be expensive. Dog bite cases are complex and vary state to state, and an experienced lawyer in your area can help you get the financial compensation you deserve to treat the scarring.
If someone else was negligent and their dog caused your injuries and resulting scars, you may be entitled to money. Compensation for scarring is subjective, and no two cases are the same. Most insurance companies have a criteria for evaluating scarring, considering things such as:
- The location of the scar: A scar on the face or arms is far more noticeable than a scar on the leg. A facial scar has a greater impact on your quality of life.
- The size and appearance of the scar: Large, visible scars are considered more serious than a smaller scar.
- Victim’s age: Children may get more money for their scar treatment than older people.
- Treatment required: Insurance companies may dispute the amount of treatment needed to reduce a scar, or contest the necessity of the treatment.
- Victim’s suffering: Depends on how difficult the scar has been on a victim’s life.
Consult with an attorney to evaluate your options.
Your Legal Rights After a Dog Bite
The attorneys have Davis Law Group, P.S., have served dog bite victims in Washington state for nearly 25 years. Attorney Chris Davis has handled hundreds of dog bite cases, and is prepared to ensure that you or your loved one receive the best outcome possible in your case to provide maximum opportunity for a full recovery.
Davis Law Group offers free case evaluations so that dog bite victims can learn their legal options. Contact us today at (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the confidential form on the contact page to get started.