Of all the injuries one can experience, burns are some of the most destructive as well as painful. They can happen at home, on the job, or in conjunction with another accident, such as a car crash.
Burns require very specialized medical care, which can also be very expensive. Most burn patients require long-term hospitalization including multiple surgeries. They are always at risk for infections and additional complications. Large, serious burns can change a person’s life forever, even after treatments and healing. Scarring and disfiguration can make everyday activity difficult. Problems with mobility can make returning to work problematic.
Even burn victims who have health insurance may discover that the treatment they need may be out of reach with their coverage. This leaves the victim and their family without income, difficulties paying everyday bills and dealing with medical expenses they can’t cover.
Categories Of Injury
Burns are generally grouped into four categories of increasing severity:
- First Degree—the minor burn you receive when you touch something hot, such as a heater or stove burner. First-degree burns affect primarily the outer layers of the skin, but can hide damage that’s deeper. Although painful, they usually heal in a few weeks and may not require a doctor’s care. Immunocompromised patients may experience a secondary infection that requires medical attention.
- Second Degree—affects the first and second layers of skin, and is extremely painful. These burns leave scarring and blisters, along with long-term pain. Infections are more common, and treatment may include pain meds and antibiotics. Surgery, including skin grafts, may also be needed.
- Third Degree—the more serious burns, since tissue and nerve damage are common. Pain may not result until much later because of the damage to the pain receptors. Major surgery is required, and includes skin grafts and long-term pain management.
- Fourth Degree—these are the most destructive, since they may cause bone-deep damage to bones, tendons and muscles. Skin charring is also common, and requires surgical removal and replacement with a skin graft. Frequently, fourth-degree burns aren’t discussed by doctors since they do considerable damage, and are frequently fatal.
Anything that’s more than a first-degree burn should be seen by a doctor to assess the best course of treatment. Third and fourth degree burns and those that cover the groin, face, large joint or a large section of the body are urgent medical emergencies.
Whenever someone’s negligence fails to prevent burn injuries, the next step is to establish responsibility. This will determine the direction of your personal injury case.
The defendant could be anyone who could have prevented the burn and did not, including:
- The person who causes an auto accident that results in friction burns and fires
- An employer who fails to follow established safety guidelines, OSHA requirements and other rules for employee safety, handling of chemicals, maintenance of equipment, or other hazards
- Daycare centers that do not secure areas used for cooking, or fail to apply sunscreen to children before sending them outside in the sun
- In-home caretakers who leave hazardous chemicals or hot pans in the reach of children or elders in their care, or bathe them in water that is too hot for their tolerance
- Landlords and/or property owners whose failure to maintain caused a fire that injured tenants
- Maintenance or construction companies whose negligence led to a fire, i.e., faulty electrical wiring
- Product manufacturers whose dangerous or defective products were directly responsible for injuries
- These can include fire alarms, smoke detectors, extinguishers, and fire suppression systems
- An individual who intentionally commits arson or sets someone alight for the express purpose of causing burn injuries or to kill
Burn and fire injuries are some of the most difficult to establish and to prove responsibility. We strongly suggest that anyone who has suffered burn injuries seek legal advice from an attorney who can help establish responsibility for the accident. The burden of proof falls to the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s negligence was responsible for the accident, and therefore, the plaintiff’s resulting injuries. An attorney specializing in burn injuries can help you do that.
Statute Of Limitations
Each state has a time limit on how long you have to file your personal injury lawsuit for burn injuries, known as the “statute of limitations.” With few exceptions, after the time limit has expired, you won’t be able to file your claim for compensation.
That’s why it’s important to begin the process by speaking with a burn injury attorney as soon as you are able. It takes time to build a strong case for you, and you’ll want to make sure your attorney has all the time they need. If you wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire, your attorney may not be able to give you the best representation, and you’ll have a greater chance of losing.
How Can A Burn Injury Attorney Help You?
You have much to handle when you are recuperating from your injuries, medical treatment, and possibly surgeries. A long hospital stay may be in your future. Handling a personal injury claim for your burns may be more than you can handle.
When you work with a burn injury attorney, they can help with:
- Deciding which laws are applicable to your individual case
- Identifying which parties are responsible
- Evidence gathering before it disappears or is “erased”
- Compensation, and which types are available in your case
- Negotiations with other parties, including employers, their insurers and legal representatives
- Handling your case in court, should it become necessary to go to trial.
NOTE: never speak with the other party, their insurance company or legal team on your own. Refer them to your attorney for even the simplest of questions. They will take anything you say out of context and use it to deny your claim quickly as possible.
The compensation or damages available in a personal injury claim for burn injuries can include:
- Medical expenses, including future expenses for long-term care
- Lost income, past and future
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Working with an attorney for your burn injuries can insure that you will receive the maximum compensation available in your case.
Get Help After A Burn Injury
If you or someone you love has suffered burn injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you need medical attention first. Once you’re stabilized, you should seek legal representation to file a claim.
Our experienced burn injury attorneys are ready to help you recover the compensation you need. Each case is different, and we will work to uncover all the facts in your specific case. Contact our attorneys today by filling out the form on our contact page. We’ll discuss your case with you and explain your options for recovering compensation.