Serious burn injuries can be an incredibly difficult hardship to face and may involve life-long damage, such as scarring or disfigurement. Depending on the severity, burn victims often require expensive skin grafting surgeries, intensive physical therapy, and even psychiatric care.
Advanced second-degree and third-degree burns are the types generally categorized as serious enough for specialized care in a medical center’s burn unit or dedicated burn center. Fourth-degree burns are the most severe, extending into bone. First-degree burns are usually not considered to be serious (unless they cover a large area of the body) because they affect only the epidermis, or the outermost layer of skin.
Where Are Burns Most Likely to Happen?
Believe it or not, most burns happen within the home—73 percent of all burns, according to the American Burn Association’s data from 2005 through 2014. Cooking, heating sources, and electrical malfunctions are the leading causes of burns at home, with fires or flames (43 percent) and scalding substances (34 percent) the two leading causes of injury.
The second-most likely setting for burn injuries is the workplace, with eight percent of burns occurring in occupational settings. In addition to fires or flames and scalds caused by steam or hot liquids, workplace burns can be caused by:
- Caustic chemicals
- Electrical sources
- “Flashing” fires (usually generated by an explosion, or when a flammable liquid or gas suddenly catches fire).
Burn Injury Lawsuits: Your Options
Recovering from the physical and emotional pain of a burn injury requires a great deal of perseverance. It can also be expensive for the victim and their family. Fortunately, the civil justice system provides a way for victims to receive financial reimbursement for costly medical treatments or surgical procedures when someone else has caused an injury accident.
However, in a burn injury lawsuit, certain elements must be provable:
- The plaintiff was owed a duty by the defendant. For example, a landlord may be required by law to provide working smoke detectors for tenants.
- The duty was breached. For example, the landlord did not provide working smoke detectors even though required to do so by law. In other words, the landlord breached his or her duty and was therefore negligent.
- The breach of duty was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus the landlord who did not provide working smoke detectors could be held liable if the occupants suffered burns because the detectors did not work during a fire.
What Types of Financial Damages Can I Recover?
With a burn case, you could be compensated for a number of damages. For example, you could be awarded damages for the following situations:
- Medical expenses you paid out of your own pocket
- Medical expenses anticipated to be paid out in the future
- Lost wages to date
- The loss of earnings ability in the future
- Compensation for pain and suffering, both past and future
- Scarring and disfigurement compensation
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Expenses for household services that were performed because the burn victim could not perform them
- Compensation for reduction in quality of life.
All of these damages are general or special compensatory damages in Maryland. Punitive damages are generally not sought in Maryland because the law requires proof that the defendant acted with “actual malice,” or a deliberate intent to injure or harm.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies Following Burns
Far too often, working with an insurance company proves to be an unfortunate obstacle that injured victims have to tackle after an accident. Filing a personal injury claim can be complicated and require a lot of confusing or misleading paperwork.
Insurance companies claim to help injured clients receive the money they need to recover from serious injuries; however, these companies may instead deny or prolong legitimate claims and offer a lower settlement amount than the victim is entitled to by law.
If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury, you do not have to settle for less than you deserve. An experienced lawyer will fight to protect your rights against deceptive insurance companies and help you win the full and fair coverage that is legally owed to you.
Contact a Committed Burn Injury Lawyer
Steven H. Heisler, “The Injury Lawyer,” can help you understand your legal rights and options in the overwhelming aftermath of a burn injury accident. He has a proven track record for providing successful legal representation and guidance for injured clients and their family members. While no amount of money can erase the physical and emotional damage of a burn accident, seeking justice in court can help bring you and your family the financial security you need to focus on the future. Steve is easy to talk to and understands the special circumstances that burn injury victims have to overcome. He fights to help each client obtain the legal support they need in order to recover.
If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury as a result of another person’s recklessness or wrongdoing, of if you have suffered a burn injury at your workplace, please call the Baltimore injury attorney Steven H. Heisler at (410) 625-4878 for a free consultation. If you prefer, use our online contact form.