Learn how to get the compensation you need to heal from this serious work injury
Also known as an avulsion injury, a degloving injury occurs when the skin peels back from the bone, muscle, or connective tissue beneath. The end result can look like a “glove” of flesh has been ripped away.
The most common cause of degloving is a workplace accident. It’s particularly common in the gas and oil industries, where hand injuries make up 50-80% of all worker injuries. It also frequently happens due to car accidents, contact sports, falls from heights, and accidents involving heavy machinery. Regardless of how it occurs, degloving is a serious injury that can lead to amputation and even death.
What body parts can be affected by a degloving injury?
Despite its name, degloving can happen to multiple parts of the body, not just the hands. Other common locations include the arms, chest, hips, legs and feet. It can even happen to the face and scalp.
What are the 2 main types of degloving injuries?
The most well-known type of degloving is called “open degloving.” This is when the skin completely detaches from the muscle or tissue below. It’s immediately obvious, and it’s usually the source of significant pain.
The other type of degloving is called “closed degloving.” This is when the skin becomes separated from the underlying tissue but doesn’t come fully or even partially off. Instead, an open space is created between the layers, and that space eventually fills with blood, lymph fluid or fat.
Closed degloving injuries aren’t always noticed right away. They might seem like nothing more than a bruise or a swollen area. Both open and closed degloving injuries, however, are classified as traumatic injuries.
In the News: Meat factory degloving case
A degloving accident in Ireland made headlines in 2022. After a nearly decade-long legal battle, a former meat factory worker was awarded a 6-figure sum after suffering a degloving injury to his forearm. According to reports, he was instructed to clean a machine that he’d never been taught how to clean, and he accidentally stuck his arm into a section with a rotating blade. He claimed that the meat factory was negligent for not training him properly, and the court agreed.
What are common causes of degloving injuries at work?
Degloving injuries are an occupational hazard in many industries, including gas, oil, construction, manufacturing, automotive and agriculture. It’s also a risk in transportation and delivery since car accidents are a frequent cause of degloving injuries.
Here are just a few ways that degloving injuries can occur on the job:
Gerber & Holder attorney Thomas Holder answers the question of whether your employer can terminate you after you’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim.
How is a degloving injury treated?
Like any traumatic injury, a degloving injury should be treated by a doctor. Time can be especially critical with open degloving wounds that expose the nerves and tissue below, increasing the risk of infection.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the injury. Skin grafts and skin flaps are often used for minor cases of degloving. Heavier reconstructive surgeries might be needed for more extensive damage. In the most extreme cases, such as a very deep or seriously infected wound, amputation might be necessary.
How long does it take to recover from a degloving injury?
Since there’s a wide range of severity with degloving injuries, there’s no standard recovery time. It could take weeks, months or even years. Multiple surgeries might be required, and physical therapy could be ongoing.
What are the potential complications and long-term effects of a degloving injury?
The risk of infection is always present with degloving injuries. Since your body’s underlying tissue is exposed, you’ll need to be vigilant about cleaning, wrapping and monitoring the wound per your doctor’s orders as it heals. Infections can strike at any time, and they can turn a mild or moderate case of degloving into a life-threatening one.
Mobility is another concern. It’s common to experience pain, stiffness and swelling after a degloving injury, so you might need long-term physical therapy (PT) to regain your flexibility and range of motion. You’ll also need PT if you lost a limb or had a limb reattached during the reconstructive process.
Permanent nerve damage is also possible. Symptoms could range from numbness to chronic pain.
Last but not least, degloving can have an impact on your mental health. You could suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from your accident, or you could struggle with self-esteem issues because of new scars or a permanent disability. These emotions are completely normal, but they can be difficult to grapple with and may require assistance from a mental health professional.
Are workers who develop a degloving injury eligible for workers’ comp benefits in Georgia?
Almost all employers in Georgia with 3 or more workers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are exceptions for certain types of workers, including farm laborers and railroad workers. Independent contractors aren’t covered, either.
What workers’ comp benefits are available to injured workers?
If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury at work, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. They could include any of the following:
- Medical benefits, including hospital stays, doctor visits, surgeries, medications and physical therapy.
- Lost wage benefits if your injury prevents you from working. These are typically two-thirds of your average weekly pay.
- Death benefits are also available if you’ve lost a loved one to a degloving accident, including funeral expenses and lost income.
What steps do workers need to take to file a workers’ comp claim in Georgia?
To receive workers’ compensation in Georgia, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Seek medical attention to prevent your injury from getting worse. Make sure to follow all of the doctor’s orders so you don’t compromise your claim.
- Notify your employer of your injury. This must be done within 30 days in most cases.
- Fill out a WC-14 form.
- Submit the form to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
- Wait to hear if your claim is approved or denied.
There can be many moving parts to a claim, so if you’re ever in doubt about your options or actions, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.
Contact an Atlanta work injury attorney for help with your claim
If you’ve been injured in a degloving accident or any other work-related accident in Georgia, contact the experienced Atlanta worker injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys today.
Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience helping injured workers across Georgia recover maximum compensation after an injury. We’re here for you and ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.