Why You Should Call a Burn Injury Attorney


Laura Schaefer

When burn victims suffer severe injuries from accidents they didn’t cause, a burn injury attorney fights to secure compensation for their clients’ losses. These losses can be staggering, from thousands of dollars in medical bills, to lifetime permanent disfigurement from carrying a burn scar.

Burn injury is a sector of personal injury law practiced by specialists who understand how burns occur and the long-term effects of a burn accident.

Without an attorney to file your claim, insurance companies will try to take advantage of you and lowball your settlement. Protect yourself, and hire expert legal counsel.

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Table of Contents

Common Causes of Burn Injury

Burn injuries are often the result of negligence – breaching the duty of care – at home, the road, or workplace.

A landlord may not have followed fire-safety protocol. A nightclub, hotel, or other public facility may not have been up to code. A manufacturer may have sold a defective product to you that broke and resulted in your burn injury.

Burn injuries are not just caused by fire accidents. Burn injury attorneys must also consider how the following incidents cause a burn injury:

  • Workplace accidents
  • Electrical burns
  • Chemical burns
  • Radiation exposure
  • Motor vehicle accidents

There are more examples than the ones above that can cause a burn injury to occur. That’s why hiring a burn injury attorney is key to mitigating your losses.

Types of Burn Injuries You May Sue For

The types of burn injuries you may sue for.

Burn injuries, even minor ones, can result in long-lasting physical trauma if not treated properly:

  • Burn infections: A burn accident can open up the bloodstream to deadly diseases due to the open wound. A severe burn injury can even attract fatal bacterial infections like sepsis and MRSA.
  • Damaged immune systems: Due to cells rapidly dying from a burn injury, the immune system’s response may be more delayed and systemic. This immune response can escalate to burn shock, leading to potential organ failure.
  • Scar contracture: A lack of replacement skin from a large scar can pull the surrounding skin around the area. This causes skin contractions, a lack of movement, and general muscle tightness in the area.
  • Respiratory damage: A fire produces hot gasses that, when inhaled, burns respiratory system body parts like the larynx, mouth, and esophagus.

The nature of these burns changes depending on the type of burn injury sustained. This is why hiring a burn injury attorney is key to determining your damages. Make sure your case is properly analyzed by a burn injury lawyer before signing with your insurance.

Friction Burns

Motor vehicle accidents, especially motorcycle crashes, often cause friction burns, where rough objects like asphalt scrape parts of the body. Carpet burns also fall into the category of friction burns.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns occur when bare skin is exposed to corrosive or caustic materials, including bleach and other solvents. Blue-collar jobs like farmers and industrial workers are particularly vulnerable to chemical burn injuries.

Injuries from a chemical burn can escalate dramatically as the chemical stays on the body, eating away at the skin. Unsafe working conditions can also increase the chances for a chemical burn to occur.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns can happen due to loose electric currents, sparks or arcs. They are often the result of faulty wiring, improper training, or risky behavior. Higher voltage and amperage electrical burns can cause potentially fatal injuries when unchecked.

The severity of an electrical burn may not be evident by its outward appearance. Due to the electrical current traveling through the whole body, there may be internal damage burned inside the body.

The body may also convert the electrical energy to heat, causing a thermal burn. If there are downed power lines present, don’t hesitate to call 911 to prevent further injury.

Thermal Burns

The most common type of burn injury is a thermal burn, where excess heat makes contact with your body.

Fire accidents often cause these types of burns, but thermal burns can occur on any hot surface. This includes scalding liquids, electrical shorts, or high-temperature gasses like steam.

Radiation Burns

A radiation burn results from direct or prolonged exposure to sources of radiation like UV-rays and X-ray scans.

As a side effect of radiation therapy, burns often heal in a short amount of time when properly managed. However, improper use of medical equipment like CT scans can worsen the effects of a radiation burn.

Burn Injury Lawsuits You May Qualify For

It’s important to know the type of claim your burn injury lawsuit classifies as, in order to maximize your chances of compensation. A burn injury attorney can analyze your case and reassure you with the facts.

You may believe your claim won’t stand in court due to partially being at-fault for the accident. Even with slight liability, if your attorney proves the other party is mostly to blame for your damages, your legal claim may still qualify.

Hiring a burn injury attorney can help you focus on your injuries while potentially earning a higher settlement than talking with the insurance company alone.

The following are the types of burn injury lawsuits you may qualify for. Specific advice for your case can only be achieved by hiring a burn accident lawyer directly.

Workplace Burn Injuries

Burns are common workplace hazards with chemical, thermal, and electrical burns happening in a variety of professions. In a study surveying 2,510 burn victims, 15% of them were workplace-related.

A personal injury lawsuit for a workplace burn case may qualify if:

  • A defective product caused the burn
  • Someone other than the direct employer was negligent, such as a project manager, an architect or engineer
  • A worker employed by a subcontractor or a vendor caused the incident, leading to the burn injury

You may consider filing a workers’ compensation claim instead of suing the employer directly. Before this, consider talking with an attorney before filing for this type of claim. If you file for workers’ comp, however, you forfeit the right to sue for further damages, potentially reducing your settlement potential.

Your state’s laws may force you to file for workers’ comp after a work injury. In that case, a workers’ comp attorney is essential. Talk with a legal specialist before signing further papers.

Defective Products

Sometimes, burn injuries are the result of defection products such as flammable clothing. Another culprit includes home furniture or appliances such as heating equipment. Space heaters and heating pads, for example, can cause residential fires.

Some fire-safety equipment may sadly be to blame for burn injuries. This occurs when it has a defect causing it to fail when needed. If you were hurt in a fire due to defective equipment, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer who made it.

House and Apartment Fires

A home or apartment neglecting to follow fire-safety protocol can result in lifelong injury or death. Just in 2016 alone, the American Burn Association (ABA) recorded 2,800 deaths resulting from residential structure fires.

Landlords have a responsibility to keep their properties in good condition. They also must ensure their properties are equipped with certain fire safety features by code. Unfortunately, sometimes landlords are negligent and their tenants are injured by burns in apartment and house fires.

Landlords can be held liable for their negligence if a tenant is injured in a fire that was entirely preventable. Your burn injury attorney will look into whether your landlord followed basic safety codes.

Vehicle Fires

Two-thirds of all vehicle fires are caused by heat buildup from the engine, drivetrain, and electrical components. If defective, these energy sources have no way to transfer their heat, leading to a fire.

If a vehicle experiences a severe collision and fuel leaks from the gas tank, defective vehicles can catch on fire. This is called a post-collision fuel-fed fire. Even though this accounts for 7% of fires, 6 out of 10 fatal vehicle fires are caused by this phenomenon. 

If your car or truck caught on fire due to either the other driver’s negligence or the manufacturer’s negligence, you may be able to file a burn injury claim.

Degrees of Burn Injury Severity

Burn injuries are mostly categorized into four degrees, measuring the amount of skin damage sustained.

  1. First-degree burns damage the outer layer of skin. These cause pain, redness, and discomfort. The damage is temporary.
  2. Second-degree burns extend below the outer layer of skin. These cause damage to tendons and muscles and typically require medical treatment. This type of burn can take months to heal and discolor your skin.
  3. Third-degree burns damage all the layers of skin. They can also destroy nerves and leave permanent scarring. These burns require immediate medical treatment. Long-term medical care may be needed as well.
  4. Fourth-degree burns are the most severe. They damage muscles and bone, and can even lead to organ failure. These burns may be life-threatening and require utmost medical treatment.

How to Prove Liability After a Burn Injury

To prove fault, a burn injury attorney must establish that someone has been negligent by showing a breach in the duty of care. They need to show that the at-fault party had an obligation to act in a manner that ensured you were reasonably safe. For example, your employer must follow OSHA workplace rules to protect against injury.

Next, your attorney must prove a breach of duty. For example, if an employer asks you to handle chemicals improperly, that’s considered a breach of that duty of care. Your attorney then proves how their negligence led to injuries and losses. For example, if the chemicals spilled and directly burned you, causation is clear.

Finally, your attorney will show that you suffered losses or damages because of your employer’s negligence. For example, because you suffered burn injuries, you had to spend money on medical treatment and also could not work for a certain period of time.

Damages From a Severe Burn

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 180,000 deaths every year are caused by burns. According to the CDC, over 1 million burn injuries require medical attention each year in the United States and 50,000 require hospitalization.

The average cost to treat burn injuries is high: a 2014 systematic review found that a mean total healthcare cost per burn patient was $88,218.

Burn injury victims can often be left with physical and emotional scars that may never heal – therefore, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation.

Compensatory Damages

Burn injury victims can pursue compensation for measurable compensatory damages such as medical bills, rehabilitation, reconstructive surgeries and other medical treatments, travel to rehab, long-term care, loss of earning capacity, and lost wages.

Burn injury victims can also seek damages for non-economic (non-measurable) costs like pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement and loss of consortium (loss of sexual, physical, or emotional relations with a spouse).

Punitive Damages

Due to the potential catastrophic losses surrounding a burn injury, your case may qualify for punitive damages. These damages are not awarded to cover your losses, but to punish egregiously reckless behavior.

The purpose of punitive damages is to prevent further actions from happening in the future. Your case may set a precedent for further protection against reckless or malicious behavior.

Since some states issue a cap on punitive damages, you’ll need an expert burn injury attorney to present your case.

Long-Term Effects From a Burn Injury

Burns can cause pain and suffering, which can prevent you from doing activities you use to enjoy. This might include sports, going on planned vacations, finishing a project, or swimming.

They can also lead to psychological diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You may not be able to return to work for some time, meaning that you will miss out on your wages. Some burn injuries are so severe that you will have to change jobs.

Medical costs to treat burn injuries can add up to be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. You may have to pay for costs related but not limited to:

  • Ambulance rides
  • Imaging tests
  • Hospital stays
  • Doctor and specialist visits
  • Surgery or plastic surgery
  • Therapy and rehabilitation

For all of these reasons, it is important to talk with a personal injury attorney who has helped other burn injury victims recover damages to help deal with these long-term effects.

When to Call a Burn Injury Lawyer

It starts with a conversation. The time to call a burn injury attorney is as soon as possible. A personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate for your case. If you were burned on someone else’s property, for example, a premises liability suit against the negligent property owner could be your best option. An attorney can assess this.

If a defective device/vehicle/electrical system caused the burn, you may be able to file a product liability claim. If you were burned in an accident at work, you may try to recover damages through a worker’s compensation program.

Is There a Deadline to File Your Burn Injury Claim?

Yes, all legal filings are subject to the statutes of limitations, which are strict legal time deadlines. If you miss this deadline, you won’t be able to win a settlement payment.

IMPORTANT: Claim deadlines could be longer or shorter depending which state you live in. They also depend on the specific facts of your case. Insurance policies have notification deadlines as well and they are often shorter than the state’s statutes of limitation.

Find a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer With LegalASAP

If you’ve suffered a burn injury, it’s important to seek legal assistance from a burn injury attorney as soon as possible. They can evaluate your case, advise you on your rights, and help you pursue compensation for your burn injuries and related expenses through negotiation or litigation.

By working with a skilled burn injury attorney, you can navigate the complexities of the legal process and strive to achieve a fair outcome for your situation.

Need to speak to someone about a burn injury? Get in touch by clicking here.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.