Skin camouflage make-up was developed after the First World War to help soldiers who had been injured and maimed in combat.
It is a technical science, a form of ‘Trompe l’oeil’ (‘trick of the eye’), effectively.
By adding artificial ‘faults’ (e.g. freckles) and blending exact skin tone, the instinctive reaction of an onlooker’s brain to pigmentation and scar tissue defects is overcome. Observers are unable to notice that which looks out of the ordinary, imperfect, or missing.
For burn injury and scarring victims bringing personal injury claims, these specialist procedures may therefore be beneficial.
However, Babs Forman, a former trainee at Allen & Overy, considers that personal injury solicitors are ‘largely ignorant’ of skin camouflage make-up and is therefore campaigning to increase awareness, with the prospect of seeing an upsurge in recommendations for her services.
Having retrained as a make-up artist with the British Association of Skin Camouflage and subsequently acquiring Expert Witness Institute (EWI) membership, Ms. Forman spends roughly 50% of her time on expert witness work, imparting knowledge on the total cost of products and scar management for the determination of quantum for compensation.
Speaking to Legal Futures, this week, she stated that expert witness reports supplied by professionals in her field, of which there are ‘only a handful’, can make a ‘huge difference’, potentially in ‘a lot of personal injury and medical negligence cases’:[i]
‘There are a lot of solicitors that don’t know about [skin camouflage] … how beneficial it can be to the end client, who benefits from added confidence – such as being able to leave the house, being able to get on with social engagements where beforehand they might have felt inhibited’.
These benefits can be expensive, though, especially when coupled with massage techniques to reduce the appearance of scarring and improve both functionality and pain management:
‘It adds up quite significantly and if you think it is a monthly sum going forward for the rest of that claimant’s life, you are looking at potentially tens of thousands of pounds’.
In order to successfully market camouflage make-up, Ms. Forman, who is also a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), believes that it is ‘very important’ to make the distinction between make-up for beauty purposes and make-up for quasi-medical purposes, shifting focus onto the ‘paramedical and rehabilitation aspects’ of this niche practice area:
‘For people who are perhaps male and a little bit older, and for whatever reason don’t want to feel they are wearing make-up, there can be a real barrier’.
Should her ‘mission’ statement resonate with personal injury practitioners, the value of special damages in burn injury and scarring claims would undoubtedly increase.
For example, Thompsons Solicitors reported on a case in 2005,[ii] in which a minor sustained severe burns to her shoulder and face, leaving significant scarring. General damages of £27,500 were awarded,[iii] plus special damages of over £15,800, the vast majority of which consisted of camouflage make-up costs.[iv]
Might there also be grounds for widespread professional negligence claims, stemming from PI solicitors’ presumed ‘ignorance’ towards camouflage make-up expertise?
[i] Dan Bindman, ‘Solicitor make-up expert highlights role for skin camouflage’ (6 November 2019 Litigation Futures) <https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/solicitor-make-up-expert-highlights-role-for-skin-camouflage> accessed 6 November 2019.
[ii] Morris v Rodgers (Redditch County Court, 11 April 2005).
[iii] By reference to the equivalent of today’s Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 of the Judicial College (JC) Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases (14th Edition).
[iv] ‘CARE COSTS – THOMPSONS SOLICITORS’ (July 2005 Thompsons Solcitors) <https://www.thompsons.law/news/news-archive/law-bulletin-july-2005/care-costs> accessed 7 November 2019.