In 2011, there were 378 serious car accidents in Denver. Car accidents can cause painful and disfiguring injuries around the head and face, making facial reconstruction surgery necessary after a severe car accident. According to Colorado law, the costs of this surgery and any ongoing damages the patient feels after the surgery are the responsibility of the at-fault party in the accident.
Accidents and Injuries Leading to Facial Reconstruction Surgery
During an accident, the driver’s head and face can slam into the steering wheel if the airbags don’t explode or there aren’t airbags. Airbag explosions are also violent and can cause head and face injuries. The driver may be rattled against the side of the car, causing trauma to the head and face.
Facial reconstruction surgery is designed to repair or reshape deformities of the head and face caused by trauma. The process can involve removing tissues, re-connecting blood vessels and nerves (sometimes using microscopic tools), or grafting bone from the pelvis, ribs or skull to the face. Metal screws and wire are sometimes used to hold the jaw or a bone graft in place. Skin grafts also can be used from the back, thigh or buttocks to replace burned or damaged skin.
There are a few possible complications from this surgery. As with any surgery, the patient may not react well to the anesthesia or medicine. Facial reconstruction surgery patients often experience swelling of the face and throat. This swelling sometimes can close the windpipe or esophagus and necessitate breathing or feeding tubes.
If a patient doesn’t face any complications, prognosis is usually good. He or she may be able to leave the hospital within a week and shouldn’t feel pain from the surgery for more than six weeks. Perhaps the major long-term complication from the surgery is mental stress from the patient adjusting to a new appearance. Often the change can lead to stress, depression and anxiety disorders.
Can facial reconstruction surgery be considered a damage?
Damages are awarded in lawsuits after car accidents if one party can prove the other party was negligent. Negligence means failing to use reasonable care to prevent injuries to others. The lawsuit compensates the victim for damages caused by the negligent act, so this surgery is almost always compensable in court if the plaintiff can prove negligence.
Both economic and non-economic consequences of facial reconstruction surgery are compensable in a lawsuit. Economic damages are the cost of the surgery and ongoing treatment. These damages also include lost wages during the surgery and lost potential earnings for patients. For example, if disfigurement causes a patient to lose his or her job or only be able to accept lower-paying jobs, then he or she can claim the loss of earnings. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and mental anguish the patient experiences after the accident and surgery.
Challenges of Collecting for Facial Reconstructive Surgery
The major challenge plaintiffs face is proving fault in the case. Pictures from the accident, police reports and witness testimony all can be used to help prove a case. Police reports are especially useful because they contain many details of the accident and may contain the responding officer’s opinion of fault for the accident. Having a skilled attorney on their side can help accident victims investigate the case, gather evidence and present this evidence effectively to a judge and jury.
The Law Firm of D.J. Banovitz prides itself on aggressively advocating for car accident victims. Contact our office at 303-300-5060 for more information or to schedule a free consultation today.