General Damages-Disfigurement

Disfigurement damages are the easiest to prove, but the proper demonstration of disfigurement is often misunderstood.

Disfigurement. Disfigurement includes scars, missing body parts, deformed body parts,  skin color changes, loss of hair, and any  disturbing visual change to the body resulting from injury.

Most Important Body Parts. The most significant disfigurement cases involve the face. Our face is what we show the world. Our face is how we are first perceived. A facial disfigurement case is a substantial injury case. Second to our face is our hands. We can cover all parts of our body outside of our face and hands without being perceived as unusual. Arm and leg disfigurement is also difficult to hide especially arm disfigurement. In essence any disfigurement that is readily apparent and often exposed is a significant injury.

Sex and Age. As a general rule, disfigurement on a women is a more significant then the same  disfigurement on a man. Generally, disfigurement on a young person is a more significant then the same disfigurement on an older person. These realities are the realities of society and society members are who will be on your jury.

Demonstrating Disfigurement. The most important aspect of a disfigurement case is demonstrating disfigurement. The great trial lawyer Howard Nations says it best:

– Jurors are Subject to the Anesthetizing Effect

The better part of wisdom dictates that when a severely injured Plaintiff is being presented to a jury, the less time the jury can actually observe the victim, the stronger effect the injuries will have on the jurors. Long term and constant exposure to a severely injured person causes an anesthetizing effect with…jurors who become accustomed to the injuries and less empathetic with them as time progresses.

For example, a seriously burned individual who has horrendous scarring may cause jurors to look away upon first contact. However, if that person sits in the [court] room in sight of the jurors…for several days of trial, by the time the jurors enter the jury room to deliberate on damages, they will be anesthetized to the damage and will not view it as tragically as they would have upon initial contact.

From the Plaintiff’s viewpoint, the wiser course is to bring the seriously injured victim in to introduce to the panel on voir dire examination. Then ask the court that the person be excused and not have them return until they are called to the witness stand to testify. After testifying, they should not be seen again by the jury… .

The absence of the Plaintiff during the trial can be explained by a medical witness or psychologist who will testify that it is in the best interest of the Plaintiff not to hear the testimony concerning the accident either from the viewpoint of reliving the horrors of the events or hearing testimony about the devastating long term effects… . (Howard Nations, Powerful Persuasion)

Separate Element. As with all of our elements of general damage, disfigurement is a separate element. It must be segregated for the jury. Care must be taken in doing this and assigning a separate value. We only have one opportunity to get fairness for our injured client. Our injured client lives the rest of her life with her injuries.

    One Response to “General Damages-Disfigurement”

    1. Hello. Thank you for writing this post. It helped me very-much.

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