Degloving injuries are when the skin and tissue are torn off. It is named "degloving" because the skin is pulled off much like a glove is taken off the hand. These are awful injuries that are not just limited to the hand. We have seen degloving personal injury cases involving the foot, calf, and even genitals and head. The latter is almost always fatal.
The mechanism of degloving injuries is described as "external forces shear the skin off the underlying tissues, usually in a tissue plane between the subcutaneous fat and deep fascia - - severe degloving injuries are classically associated with roller type machinery or where a vehicle rolls over a limb.”
This injury requires major surgery. Irreplaceable quality of the skin has been lost. Blood vessels and muscles are stripped away. Often, the victim's life is in jeopardy because the blood supply is depleted which also increases the risk of tissue necrosis. The reason why the thigh almost always survives a degloving injury is that the thigh has an excellent blood supply. In contrast, the blood supply to the tibia is terrible and many of these cases led to amputations.
Infections can also kill you if the injury is not quickly treated.
In a degloving situation is the skin damaged or is it the tissue beneath that's damaged? When you deglove the skin, the skin and the tissue can both can be damaged.
- A medical case study in 2018 of a 7-year-old boy who suffered a degloving injury riding after crashing his bike
A degloving injury is usually caused by one of three things:
- Pedestrian/Motor vehicle accidents. The typical car accident degloving case comes from a tire running over the victim, usually a pedestrian accident but these injuries also occur in regular collisions where the tire of the other vehicle gets into the other vehicle's interior. Usually, to get the degloving effect, the speed of the tire is slow but we a great deal of force. But there are many other types of MVA related degloving injuries, including motorcycle accidents and bicycle crashes.
- Industrial or farming accidents. The biggest culprits here are high-speed rollers, press machines, and conveyor belts. (You also see a lot of brachial plexus injuries with these machines as well.) Often, these are workers' compensation cases. But there are also a large number of defective product industrial accident degloving cases because, quite often, these injuries are foreseeable, but the manufacturer failed to install a safety feature that would have protected the worker from the injury. So many of these cases are both workers' compensation claims and civil personal injury case.
- Jewelry that catches on an object. Usually, these are ring degloving cases that are typically less severe -- usually, a single finger which is still awful but more manageable -- and less likely to result in a civil injury claim.
Below are verdicts and settlements in degloving injury cases in recent years. Keep in mind, these results do not predict the results in future cases, and cases that seem aligned might not be because of the zillions of variables that go into how insurance companies, lawyers, and ultimately juries value these claims.
Why do you not see more verdicts in these cases? Insurance companies are not foolish enough to let these cases go to trial. Many defendants require confidential settlements so that lawyers like us cannot report the results of our verdicts to the world. So the universe of cases we can show you is somewhat small.
- 2018, California: $41 Million. A U.S. Air Force captain was rear-ended on a motorcycle by a Southern California Gas Company truck. He suffered a degloving injury to his thigh, an ankle fracture, a broken leg, a femoral artery injury, and a femoral nerve transection. The jury awarded $35 million in pain and suffering. The balance was for past and future lost wages and medical bills. This case underscores the jury appeal of these claims.
- 2018, California: $687,084.67. This is a left-hand turn motorcycle accident case. A young man suffered a degloving injury and leg fractures. The defendant denied liability, disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff's damages and contended the plaintiff was negligent.
- 2015, New York: $1.8 Million Settlement. An elderly female tourist from Germany is hit while standing on the sidewalk. The woman suffered multiple leg injuries, including a degloving injury to the ankle. She had an external fixation device placed and underwent several surgeries before returning to Germany.
- March 2014, Alabama: $4,000,000 Verdict: A construction worker was working as a temporary employee at a local farm. While attempting to build a fence, his clothes caught in the drill. Before he had time to react, the skin on his genitals became pulled in as well. He ultimately suffered a horrific -- there is no other way to describe it -- degloving injury to his genitals. He blamed his employer on some level, of course. But Plaintiff also claimed that the manufacturer could have installed a safety guard on the equipment.
- September 2011, New York: $20,316,049 Verdict: A 59-year-old housekeeper was attempting to cross the street when she was struck by a bus. She was rushed to a local hospital where she was treated for injuries to her arm, buttocks, eye, foot, and head. She was initially treated for a degloving injury of the upper portion of her right arm. Unfortunately, the injuries proved more severe and she ultimately required an above elbow amputation, as well as a below-knee amputation to her left leg. She underwent a total of 20 operations and multiple skin grafts over three months of hospitalization as well as seven months of physical therapy and rehab. Just when things started to show slight improvement, her retinae detached, causing blindness of the eye. She sued the bus driver, MTA, and New York City Transit Authority for negligence. Plaintiff claimed she had the pedestrian signal permitting her to cross the intersection. Defendants denied liability, arguing the credibility of Plaintiff’s video evidence of her crossing the street. Obviously, that was a big mistake.
- June 2011, New Jersey: $1,400,000 Settlement: A 53-year-old factory worker at a meat processing plant was cleaning the moving conveyor belt when her right arm became caught between the belt and drive gear. She suffered severe crush injuries in her arm, as well as a degloving injury, a dislocated elbow, and multiple fractures. Her injuries required multiple surgeries, but unfortunately, she is now permanently disabled with a loss of strength and sensation in her right arm. She sued the machine’s manufacturer and her employer for negligence. Plaintiff claimed the design of the machine was defective and lacked an appropriate warning. She also claimed Defendant Employer was negligent in improperly instructing her to clean the machine while it was running. Defendant Manufacturer claimed Defendant Employer was liable for Plaintiff’s injuries as their instructions were contrary to industry practice. The parties agreed to settle for $1,400,000.
- January 2011, New Jersey: $2,000,000 Verdict: A man and his friend visited a local restaurant for their regular poker night. During their almost five hour stay, they consumed an assortment of alcohol, paid their tab and left. The man rode as a passenger in his friend’s vehicle and after traveling for barely a mile, the driver missed a curve, flipped the car, and crashed into a tree. The impact was so severe, the jaws of life were used to extract them from the vehicle. They were taken by helicopter to Morristown Memorial Hospital. The passenger suffered a serious degloving injury to his calf, a punctured lung, and multiple fractures to his spine, tibia, and ankle. He required multiple surgeries as well as skin grafts from his thigh to his calf. The man sued both the driver and the restaurant for negligence. Plaintiff claimed Defendant Driver was negligent in operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. They eventually settled prior to trial for $100,000 and the matter proceeded against the restaurant only. Plaintiff claimed Defendant Restaurant failed to recognize the visible signs of intoxication in his friend. Defendant Restaurant denied allegations claiming the Defendant Driver was 100% liable for Plaintiff’s injuries. A Morris County jury awarded the Plaintiff $2,000,000. We do not have dram shop laws in Maryland, regrettably so this verdict against the restaurant would be dismissed before getting to a jury.
- November 2004, North Carolina: $2,300,000 Settlement: A woman was riding as a passenger in her friend’s vehicle when her side was broadsided by a tractor-trailer. The car flipped several times and she suffered severe injuries as a result of the crash. She was treated for a ghastly degloving injury to her right wrist, requiring multiple skin and muscle grafts to reconstruct what could be salvaged. She ultimately lost one and a half fingers and part of the mobility of her wrist. She sued the tractor-trailer driver for negligence. The parties agreed to settle during mediation in the amount of $2,300,000.
We are a Maryland based firm that handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. If you have a claim and need a lawyer experienced in battling and defeating these insurance companies, call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free case evaluation online.