Burn injury claims are complex with many moving parts. Determining where the other party failed and what, exactly, they’re liable for under the law takes a skilled eye and capable professional.
Our qualified personal injury attorneys can help you determine how best to move forward with your case, taking into consideration every little detail so that nothing is missed and you get everything you deserve for your pain and suffering.
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Burn injuries may be the most traumatic of injuries along with brain injuries. Severely burned victims may have to endure numerous surgeries, skin grafts, laser treatments and other painful procedures. Chronic pain can last months or years and leave permanent, unsightly scars that can cause extreme emotional distress. There are numerous possibilities for complications, including infections that can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition. Deep burns can limit a victim’s movement while scarring can tighten and shorten skin, tendons or muscles that can permanently pull joints out of position.
Along with burns, many victims suffer severe lung damage from inhaling smoke that often contains toxic gases such as arsenic. These can cause permanent lung damage and lead to cancer or other conditions that are life-threatening.
Extent of Burn Injuries
Burns are classified into degrees, with the highest degree being the most severe. First degree burns are superficial and heal within days or a few weeks in most cases. Second-degree burns mean that the burn has extended through the dermis and into the epidermis level. This level of burn implies a loss of skin function. Blisters are an indication of second-degree burns.
Third-degree burns are the most serious. The dermis and epidermis, or all layers of the skin, have been destroyed. Fluid loss, heat loss, nerve death and infection are common. During prolonged recovery, the victim can suffer extreme pain and loss of function.
There is also a fourth-degree burn classification whereby muscle and bone are affected. Most victims do not survive these types of burns.
Causes of Fires:
Deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common type of unintentional injury deaths. Burns can occur from any number of causes:
- Home fire from oven explosion or unattended stove
- Gas line explosion
- Contact with power lines
- Chemical fires
- Gas tank explosion from motor vehicle accident
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Lamps, toasters and portable heaters
- Barbeque fires
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey estimates that there are about 486,000 injuries each year that require medical care. Figures from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that there were 3,275 deaths from fire-related accidents, including those from smoke inhalation, in 2014. The NFPA also reported that the average number of residential fires nationwide per year between 2010 and 2014 was around 368,000, with the cost in property loss at over $11 billion per year.
Liability in Burn Injury Cases
To collect compensation for a burn injury, you must prove that another party or entity was, at least, negligent or that they failed to exercise reasonable care.
In some cases, a defective product may have caused the fire. Manufacturers and designers of products have a duty to design and produce a product that is safe for consumers to use as intended. Defects in the assembly or design process can impose liability. If the defect is one that is unreasonably dangerous, the manufacturer may be held strictly liable so that negligence need not be proved and the plaintiff/victim only has to prove damages.
In apartment fires, a landlord may have failed to install a working smoke detector that could have saved a family from fatal consequences. The landlord can also be held responsible if fire code standards are not met.
Damages in Burn Injury Claims
Damages in a burn case can be astronomical if the burns are severe. These include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability
- Permanent scarring
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Contact a highly experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled burn injury cases successfully and can deal with the complex issues of liability and damages that these cases may involve.