Several injuries cause severe intense pain to a person. A burn injury is one such wound. A 2021 publication listed third-degree burns as the third most painful injury a person can experience. The first two are a broken femur and shingles.
There are different types and degrees of burn injuries and several causes too. If you suffer severe burns due to another person's negligence, you're entitled to monetary compensation. But pursuing a personal injury claim while recovering can be difficult. This is why you should work with a personal injury law firm like Glenn Law Firm. Our Grapevine, Texas burn injury lawyers offer excellent legal advice and representation.
What Is a Burn Injury?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a burn is tissue damage resulting from heat, overexposure to the sun or other radiation, chemical or electrical contact. Thermal (heat) burns happen when some or all the cells in the skin or tissues get damaged by hot liquids (scalds), hot solids (contact burns), or flames (flame burns). According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 180 000 deaths occur globally every year from burns.
In the United States, 1.1 million burn injuries require medical attention. The treatment of burns depends on the location and severity of the burn. Minor burns and small scalds are treatable at home, while deep or widespread burns need immediate medical attention. In the latter case, it is better to get medical care as soon as you can.
What Are the Degrees of Burn Injuries?
The different degrees of burn injuries include:
- 1st-Degree Burns: First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). It may cause redness or pain and can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication.
- 2nd-Degree Burns: It affects both the epidermis and the second layer of skin (dermis). Second-degree burns may cause swelling, red, white, or splotchy skin. Also, blisters might occur, and you might experience intense pain, and second-degree burns can cause scarring.
- 3rd-Degree Burns: This burn injury goes beyond the outer and second layers of the skin. It goes deep beneath the skin to the fat layer. The burned area might be black, brown, or white, and the skin may appear leathery. Third-degree burns destroy blood vessels and tissues, and also cause nerve damage resulting in numbness.
When Should You See a Doctor After a Burn Injury?
A burn injury victim should get medical treatment immediately after a burn accident. Getting treatment would help mitigate the damages from the injury. Thus, seek medical assistance if:
- The burn covers the hand, feet, face, groin, buttocks, a major joint, or large body area.
- You suffer deep burns, that is, burns that affect all layers of skin or deep tissues.
- The burns cause your skin to look leathery or has patches of black, brown, or white.
- You suffer a chemical burn.
- You experience difficulty breathing or burns the airway.
What Types of Accidents Cause Burn Injuries?
You can suffer a minor burn or severe one from different types of accidents. Some of them include the following:
Auto accidents could be motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or auto-pedestrian accidents.. But injuries in automobile accidents go beyond the car catching fire. Instead, this injury typically occurs due to exposure to external heat sources like hot metals, scalding oil or other liquids, or steam.
For example, burns can happen in a motor vehicle accident due to:
- The deployment of an airbag
- Exposure to hot debris
- An explosion within the car or nearby vehicles
- Coming into contact with leaking chemicals during the accident
- Contact with a live current
Burns in the workplace are not uncommon, and they happen for different reasons. Some common workplace burns include:
- Radiation exposure to x-rays, sun lamps, UV lights, etc.
- Heat burns from fire steam, hot liquids, etc.
- Electrical burn caused by exposure to electrical sources like wires or by lightning
- Chemical burns as a result of contact with industrial or household chemicals
Defective Product Accidents
You can suffer burn injuries from defective products. An example is an electrical fire from a faulty electrical gadget or faulty wiring that creates a spark that causes a fire. Similarly, you can suffer scalding injuries from a defective water heater or coffee maker. In addition, improperly labeled household cleaners can cause a chemical burn.
Other accidents where you can suffer a burn injury include industrial accidents (industrial fires), apartment fires, maritime accidents, etc. In any of the mentioned instances, the burn victim can file a compensation claim against the fault party. A successful claim means financial compensation.
Who Can You Sue for a Burn Injury?
Generally, under the tort doctrine of negligence, a person or entity who breaches a duty of care and causes harm is liable to pay damages if such breach resulted in injuries, wrongful death, or loss of personal property. In a burn injury case, you can bring a claim or file a burn injury lawsuit against the at-fault party as long as you did not cause the accident that led to the burn. The preceding action is a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
In a nutshell, an injured person can demand the maximum compensation from:
- Anyone who intentionally started the fire (arson)
- The person who accidentally started a fire
- A company or entity that manufactured a defective product that caused the fire or burn
In a car accident case, burn accident victims would first file a claim against the responsible party (driver) and their insurance company. If they fail to get fair compensation from the insurer, the next action is a personal injury lawsuit. In either case, it is always the best option to work with Texas personal injury attorneys.
For a workplace burn injury, the first option is workers' compensation. However, if your employer does not have a work comp insurance policy or denies your claim, you can take legal action by filing a lawsuit. But first, discuss with your attorney.
What Compensation Can You Get for a Burn Injury?
A burn injury is famous for excruciating pain, both physically and mentally. In addition to the physical pain and suffering the burn victim endures, there is financial loss and property damage. All these are reasons victims ask for compensation from the negligent party.
Generally, you are entitled to the same damages as in every other personal injury case. These damages are compensatory damages and punitive damages.
These include economic and non-economic damages. The former compensates you for monetary losses, while the latter is for non-monetary losses like mental anguish. Below are what you'll get compensation for under the two compensatory damages:
- Medical expenses (past, current, and future costs)
- Property damage
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If the burn injury leads to the victim's death, the case becomes a wrongful death claim.. The decedent's legal beneficiaries would file the action and get compensation. One of such compensations aside from the first three mentioned above is loss of consortium. Another is funeral and burial expenses and loss of companionship.
Punitive damages are what the court awards against liable parties who intentionally harm another person. Courts also award it when there's evidence of gross negligence. This compensation is more of a punishment to prevent similar acts in the future. The amount of punitive damages in Texas runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What Is a Good Settlement Offer?
A good settlement offer is a compensation that gives you enough to settle your medical bills, recover lost wages, and lead a semblance of a normal life if you can't return to work. The severity of burn injuries, injury treatments like surgery or physical therapy determine your offer.
Whether or not you'll need future treatments will also factor. So, before accepting a settlement offer, ensure you have attained maximum medical improvement. Also, consult with a Texas burn injury lawyer before accepting a settlement.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Burn Injury Attorney?
The emotional pain and physical pain an injured party feels are so much that they cannot handle their claim alone. This is why we advise burn victims to get a burn injury lawyer. Attorneys have the legal experience to handle negotiations and file a lawsuit if needed.
They will deal with the insurance bullies and get you the best compensation. In addition, lawyers are objective, can get you expert witnesses, help you make better decisions, and quicken the claim process. Lastly, you get peace of mind when you have an attorney because they will work while you focus on recovering.
Consult With a Texas Burn Injury Lawyer
Whether you suffered from a minor or severe burn injury, you should consult with a lawyer. At Glenn Law Firm, we offer a no-fee initial consultation and bring our decades of experience to bear on your case. Our Texas burn injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don't pay us until we win. So, contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys.