Permanent Scarring from a Motor Vehicle Accident

Section 5102 of the Insurance Law defines one category of “serious injury” as “significant disfigurement”.  The Courts have further defined “significant disfigurement” as “a condition which is unattractive, objectionable, or the object of pity and scorn.”  In practice, this “serious injury” often is the result of scarring, frequently caused by broken glass or the seat belt suddenly tightening upon vehicle impact. Although it is unclear exactly how large or how visible a scar must be to constitute a “significant disfigurement”, the Courts have made it clear that minor cuts and scrapes will not be considered a “serious injury” in and of themselves and hence will not be compensable.  If you sustained scarring to any part of your body as a result of a motor vehicle accident, take photographs of the scars immediately and continue to take photographs periodically to show the severity of the scar, the length of time it has been present, and whether the scar is healing.  A consultation with a plastic surgeon is also recommended, as the surgeon can medically document the type of scar you have sustained, the feasibility and cost of surgical repair, and whether the scar is or may be permanent.