A degloving injury is a severe type of injury where the skin and underlying tissues are forcefully detached from the underlying structures, resulting in the removal or separation of a large area of skin. The term “degloving” is used because the injury resembles removing a glove from the hand. These injuries commonly occur in machinery accidents, such as in industrial settings or motor vehicle accidents, where significant force or crushing injuries are involved. 

Deglove injury can be severe, causing extensive damage to the affected area, including muscles, tendons, and blood vessels. They often require immediate medical attention and may require surgical repair and reconstruction intervention.

How does a degloving injury differ from other types of injuries?

A degloving injury differs from other types of injuries primarily in its nature and severity. 

  • Skin and tissue detachment: In a degloving injury, a large area of skin and underlying tissue is forcefully separated from the underlying structures. This results in the removal or separation of the skin, exposing the underlying structures like muscles, tendons, and bones.
  • Extensive damage: Degloving injuries often involve significant trauma and can cause extensive damage to the affected area. They may result in severe tissue loss and damage to blood vessels, nerves, and other vital structures, making them more complex and challenging to treat.
  • Potential for complications: Due to the severity of the injury and the involvement of multiple structures, degloving injuries have a higher risk of complications, such as infection, impaired wound healing, scarring, and long-term functional limitations. 
  • Surgical intervention: Treating degloving injuries typically requires surgical intervention. Surgeons may need to perform skin grafts, tissue flaps, or complex reconstructive procedures to repair the damaged area and restore function as much as possible.

Overall, degloving injuries are distinct in their mechanism, the extent of tissue damage, and the challenges they pose in treatment and recovery compared to other types of injuries.

How do degloving injuries occur?

These injuries can occur as a result of various accidents or incidents that involve significant force or degloving trauma to the body. Some common causes of degloving injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents: High-speed collisions or accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians can lead to degloving injuries, particularly in cases where the body comes into contact with the road surface or a hard object.
  • Industrial accidents: In workplaces such as construction sites, manufacturing plants, or agricultural settings, degloving injuries can occur due to machinery accidents, entrapment in heavy equipment, or getting caught in rotating or crushing machinery.
  • Workplace accidents: Other work-related incidents, such as getting caught in machinery, being pulled into equipment or conveyor belts, or being crushed between objects, can also result in degloving injuries.
  • Slip and fall accidents: A slip and fall incident, particularly from a height or onto a hard surface, can cause a degloving injury if there is significant friction or force applied to the skin during the fall.
  • Crush injuries: Being trapped or compressed between heavy objects, such as in construction or industrial settings, can result in degloving injuries.
  • Animal bites or attacks: Severe bites or attacks from animals, especially large dogs or wildlife, can cause degloving injuries due to the force and tearing action of their jaws.

Types of degloving injuries

Degloving injuries can be categorized into two main types: partial degloving injuries and complete degloving injuries.

  • Partial degloving injuries: In this type of injury, a portion of the skin and underlying tissue is torn or sheared away from the underlying structures, but some attachment points remain intact. The affected area may exhibit significant damage, including skin loss, tissue avulsion, and exposed muscles or bones. However, there is still some connection between the degloved tissue and the rest of the body.
  • Complete degloving injuries: In a complete degloving injury, the entire area of skin and underlying tissue is completely detached or separated from the underlying structures, resulting in a total loss of blood supply and connection to the body. These injuries often involve extensive damage and can expose muscles, tendons, bones, and other internal structures.

Types of compensation available in degloving injuries

In cases of degloving injuries, several types of compensation may be available to the injured party. The specific types and amounts of compensation can vary based on factors such as the severity of the injury, the extent of damages, and applicable laws in the jurisdiction. Here are some common types of compensation that may be pursued:

  • Medical expenses: Compensation for past, current, and future medical expenses related to the treatment and rehabilitation of the degloving injury
  • Lost wages: Compensation for income lost due to the inability to work during recovery from the injury. This may include both past and future lost wages.
  • Pain and suffering: It is one of the non-economic damages that may comprise physical pain and emotional stress resulting from your degloving injuries. 
  • Disability and disfigurement: Compensation for any permanent disability or disfigurement caused by the degloving injury
  • Home modifications and assistive devices: Compensation for the costs of modifying the injured person’s home to accommodate any physical limitations or the need for assistive devices.
  • Rehabilitation and therapy: Compensation for the costs of rehabilitative services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other necessary therapies to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation process.

How long does a degloving injury take to heal?

The healing time for a degloving injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury, the specific area affected, and individual factors. Generally, degloving injuries require extensive medical treatment and can take several weeks to months to heal fully. The healing process may involve surgeries, skin grafts, wound care, and rehabilitation.

The initial stage focuses on wound management, preventing infection, and promoting tissue healing. This may involve regular dressing changes, antibiotics, and specialized wound care techniques.

Subsequent stages of healing involve rebuilding and restoring the affected area. This may include surgical procedures such as skin grafting, reconstructive surgery, and physical therapy to regain function and mobility.

Suffering from degloving injuries? Contact a lawyer

Degloving injuries can be severe and have long-lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and fight for compensation. They will assess the details of your case, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, represent you in court.