Disfigurement produces several kinds of losses. One type is physical, such as pain from the accident, the treatment, the healing, contact with scars, and numbness and tingling from scars and crush injuries. Another type is functional, such as when speech or sight are affected, or when the tear duct system does not work properly. Another variety pertains to quality-of-life, sometimes referred to as the “hedonic” damages. Then there is the emotional harm, ranging from anxiety to embarrassment to humiliation. There is loss of consortium as well as social and romantic opportunity.
Additionally, there are economic losses. There can be a specific provable loss of income because of the original wound, the time necessary for treatment, and the time required for healing. As a result of discrimination, there can be a loss of specific earnings and also a loss of earning capacity. There also are costs which can be associated with disfigurement, such as treatment costs, nonprescription drugs and ointments, makeup and cosmetics.
The experts that you use will generally include a board-certified plastic surgeon who will testify as to permanency of the disfigurement as well as the procedures and costs to minimize it, a psychologist who specializes in disfigurement, a treating psychologist or counselor, supervisors or colleagues who can establish the loss of income, a vocational expert who can establish the past loss of income as well as the loss of future earning capacity, and a CPA who is also an economist, who can testify about hedonic damages, quantify the monetary losses of the past and future, and reduce the future losses to present value.
It is challenging to prove the full range of damages incurred by a disfigured child. There are many known issues that arise in the proof of future loss of earning capacity. Nevertheless, there is sound research that supports it, even if it is difficult to prove in any particular case. Because it is soundly based and makes common sense, the claim for it should always be made, even though it can be expensive and troublesome.