CC0 via Wikimedia Commons / Artur Andrzej -- injury you don’t hear or read much about occurs fairly frequently in the types of accidents that lead to personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims. People shy away from mentioning this particular problem because it is, to use a technical term, nightmarish.

Degloving injuries are real-life body horror. [Trust us. Only click these links if you have a very strong stomach.] Picture flesh sloughing off movie zombies. Think about one of those medical shows on cable in which a surgeon peels a patient’s skin from the muscle. Now, imagine that happening to a conscious person who is being scraped across concrete or getting attacked by an animal.



Two kinds of degloving injuries can occur. In the first, skin is torn away or rubbed off. This badly damages nerves and severs blood vessels. Sometimes, muscles, ligaments and tendons also tear,

The other type of degloving involves skin detaching from the muscle underneath without breaking and peeling. Severe internal bleeding accompanies degloving when the skin remains intact.

A Lifelong Struggle

“Painful and debilitating” go nowhere bear capturing the terrible experiences of people who suffer degloving injuries. Having one’s hand, arm, leg, face or torso stripped of flesh is almost too difficult to conceptualize. For too many accident victims, it is their lived reality.

Recovering from a degloving injury takes a long time. The injured person almost always requires a series of surgeries. Life-threatening infections commonly develop, and permanent disabilities can be expected when nerves and muscle tissue are damaged after the skin is scraped or torn away.

Beyond their physical struggles, people who suffer degloving injuries often go through the rest of their lives combating mental and emotional trauma. Even when the physical pain fades, people can still close their eyes and see their bodies literally getting ripped apart. They carry the scars on their bodies, and on their psyches.

When Degloving Occurs

Degloving can happen in

  • Motorcycle crashes, as riders slide across pavement;
  • Pedestrian and bicycle crashes, as victims are dragged under or behind the car or truck that hit them;
  • Animal attacks, especially when a dog bites and attempts to tear away flesh; and
  • Workplace accidents, particularly when a machine traps a body part or a vehicle such as a forklift rolls over a limb.

The people and parties who negligently cause such accident should be held accountable for paying the victim’s medical bills. Liability also extends to providing compensation for disabilities and pain and suffering.