What makes a burn injury Case unique?
A burn injury carries a particular kind of horror. Each of us has experienced the pain of a third-degree burn at one point or another. Based on the memory of that pain, we can imagine the much greater pain of a severe burn, such as second-or first-degree burn. A person can sustain a burn from fire, an explosion, scalding water, hot oil, or a chemical burn. Thankfully, most of us get through life without suffering a severe burn.
The science and treatment of burn injuries is evolving. Treatment frequently involves specialists. There are regional centers with the expertise to treat burns in new ways. The American Burn Association is one repository of information.
Burn Injuries and the Law
In a legal case, burns are something a jury grasps very quickly. Burns are unlikely to occur without someone being at fault. So a victim can recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost earning potential, and for the costs of medical treatment. Read our general outline on compensation here.
Compensation is also available for injuries unique to burn injury lawsuits.
With a burn injury, you can also be compensated for disfigurement. The scarring left by a burn may change a person’s appearance. That change can affect a person’s self-worth or personality. It’s not uncommon to seek counseling or therapy to process the injury.
Emotional Pain and Suffering
There is also compensation for the emotional pain and suffering of an injury. Unlike some mental injuries that can’t be seen, no one doubts the trauma of a burn. A jury can imagine the suffering. In that sense, a burn injury case can be different from a PTSD case, in which a jury may need extra education to understand the injury. But depending on how the burn occurred, you could have PTSD from a fire, for example. Smoke inhalation can cause brain injuries as well. It’s nasty stuff.
You can work with your attorney to get the right experts to evaluate your situation. Whatever the case, you want to make sure that you’re fairly compensated.
In general, burn cases happen are caused by one of two things:
Products liability. There is a whole grouping of burn cases involving defective products, such as gas fireplaces, stovetops and ovens, propane storage tanks, or various valves in liquid propane and natural gas connectors.
Negligence. This category is the bread and butter of our practice. This is when someone is supposed to act in a safe manner and fails to act. For example, a person should have checked to make sure that the thermostat showed a low temperature, but didn’t. Or someone should have shut off the valve in the gas line but didn’t. A driver should have driven the tanker truck carefully, but drove negligently instead.
A burn can happen on the job, in the home, or a cabin. If it happens on the job, there is a worker’s compensation analysis to go through.
Because burn injuries can be so severe, it’s likely that the other side will fight very hard. They don’t want to spend more on compensation than they need to.
When we represent someone in a burn case, we’re going to assemble a team of specialists. We may bring on another attorney, several experts on medical treatment, a life-care planning specialist or an economist. In a product negligence case (one involving a defective product that caused the burn), we involve experts to show that there was a safer way to design or manufacture the product.
These kinds of cases take time. They need to be done carefully. They can take a year or more. I like to say that they should take as long as they need to, but no more. Of course, sometimes that goal is aspirational. You may need to wait to see how the injuries heal before filing a suit. The court’s calendar in a particular jurisdiction may prolong or speed-up the case.