The Devastating Impact of Burn Injuries
Of all the catastrophic injuries you can suffer due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, burns represent some of the most painful. They also represent one of the most damaging types of injury in terms of the disfiguring scars they can leave over major portions of your body. An experienced burn injury lawyer will work with you to receive the compensation you deserve after a tragic incident.
By definition, an external burn occurs when your skin comes into contact with a heat source such as a fire, electricity, chemicals, radiation, etc. An internal burn occurs when you inhale a gas or liquid that has become superheated, ingest a chemical substance or suffer electrocution that sends electricity shooting through your body.
Burn Injury Types and Causes
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and contains three separate layers:
- Subcutaneous fat
The severity of your burn depends on how many layers it invades. It also depends on how much deeper it goes into your underlying muscles, tendons and other internal structures.
Burn Severity Categories
From least to most severe, health care professionals categorize burns as follows:
- First-degree burns that damage only your epidermis, such as mild sunburn, generally heal on their own without requiring medical intervention
- Second-degree burns that damage both your epidermis and dermis, such as more severe sunburn, may require a skin graft and leave a scar
- Third-degree burns that destroy not only your epidermis and dermis, but also the hair follicles and sweat glands they contain, and always require skin grafts and leave scars
- Fourth-degree burns that reach down into your fat layers
- Fifth-degree burns that spread down into your muscles
- Sixth-degree burns that reach down into your bones
Third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-degree burns all represent life-threatening situations requiring immediate and ongoing medical intervention.
Per the American Burn Association, upwards of 500,000 people in the U.S. receive burn treatments each year. While 94% of these burn victims survive, they suffer enormous pain while their bodies heal. Most of them must spend a long time in their hospital’s burn unit. Unfortunately, many of them are left with disfiguring scars.
Burn Injury Categories
Many events can cause a burn injury, but they tend to fall into the following five categories:
- Fire burns: 46% of all U.S. burn injuries; caused when you come into contact with the flames of a fire
- Scald burns: 32% of all U.S. burn injuries; caused when you come into contact with a hot liquid or its steam, such as overly hot bath water, spilled coffee, etc.
- Thermal burns: 8% of all U.S. burn injuries; caused when you come into contact with an excessively hot object or surface, such as an oven, stove burner, iron, hair curler, etc.
- Electrical burns: 4% of all U.S. burn injuries; caused when you come into contact with an electrical source, such as a frayed or improperly grounded electrical cord, overhead power line, etc.
- Chemical burns: 3% of all U.S. burn injuries; caused when you come into contact with a caustic substance, such as acids, drain cleaners, paint thinners, gasoline, etc.
The remaining 7% of U.S. burn injuries come from various other causes, including sunburn and the inevitable fireworks burns that always occur around the Fourth of July holiday.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Given that you will face a long hospitalization if you sustain serious burns in a fiery car crash, an on-the-job accident or some other catastrophic event, your medical and rehabilitation bills will quickly skyrocket. They may well exceed the limits of your insurance coverage. Working with a burn injury lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entity whose negligence or wrongdoing caused your injuries may be your only viable option for paying these bills, plus compensating you as much as possible for your lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.
Why You Need a Burn Injury Lawyer
Personal injury lawsuits represent some of the most complicated civil actions. Therefore, you should consider working with an experienced burn injury lawyer. An attorney will be able to assess your injuries, investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident or other event that caused them, determine who was at fault and therefore who you should sue, and then file such a suit on your behalf.
These, however, represent only the beginning of what may well be a long legal process. The next step consists of your attorney negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company in an attempt to arrive at a favorable settlement amount. Burn injury lawyers typically understand the complications and consequences of burn injuries, “what they’re worth” and also possesses strong negotiating skills. Remember, the insurance company will want to minimize the amount it pays you. Your lawyer’s job is to get you the maximum compensation allowable by law.
Should the settlement negotiations ultimately fail, your lawyer also needs to possess the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to take your case to a jury trial and aggressively pursue your right to compensation.
Keep in mind that you will be asking for both economic and noneconomic damages.
Your economic damages represent those to which you and your attorney can fairly easily assign a dollar amount. For example:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future rehabilitation expenses
- Lost earning capacity
- Past and future lost wages
Your noneconomic damages represent your intangible, but nevertheless very real, losses, including the following:
- The pain and suffering your burn injuries caused
- Your mental and emotional distress over what happened to you
- Any disability your burn injuries resulted in
- The disfiguring scars your burn injuries left
- Your loss of enjoyment of life because of your burn injuries
You and your lawyer will need to prove the defendant’s responsibility for your burn injuries. You’ll attempt this by what’s called the preponderance of the evidence burden of proof standard. What this means is that you must produce evidence at trial that convinces the jury that it’s more likely than not that the defendant was indeed responsible for your injuries. Therefore, they should be held accountable for causing them. In other words, the preponderance of the evidence implies a 51% certainty.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Submit a request online today or call us at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced burn injury lawyer in your area.