Zephyrhills Burn Injury Lawyers
Serious burn injuries are among the most catastrophic personal injuries that one can suffer. Not only are burns extremely painful, but it can take years and countless surgeries for the accident victim to even make a partial recovery.
The aftermath of burn injuries is both grueling and prohibitively expensive due to both the pain and the medical costs involved. If you have suffered burns in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
First, you need to contact an attorney to learn more about the legal process.
Statistics About Burn Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one million people suffer burn injuries each year. Nearly half of these require medical treatment. Some of these injuries can be extremely serious and require prolonged medical care. Estimates are that up to 5,000 people each year die from burns. Even after the initial injury, patients are not out of danger. Burn infections can be even more deadly than the initial burn, and an additional 10,000 people each year die from them.
How Burn Injuries May Occur
Burn injuries can occur in:
- Building fires
- Car accidents (when the engine or gasoline catches fire)
- Work-related accidents
- Defective products
While many people associate burn injuries with fires, they do not always occur the same way. Of course, fires are the major cause of burns, but people can also suffer serious injuries from coming into contact with hot surfaces. For example, in a car accident, one’s body could contact the frame of the car that is burning hot.
Scalding hot water or chemicals can also burn people. Many people can remember the large jury verdict against McDonald’s for serving their coffee at dangerously hot temperatures. While some commentators focused on the size of those verdicts, they overlooked the real danger of what hot water can do to someone. The plaintiffs in those cases needed multiple skin grafts and were never the same again after the injury. Their injuries have likely plagued their lives with constant pain.
Fire or flame causes just over 40 percent of burn injuries. Scalding is the second most common burn injury, with 34 percent of injuries caused by it. The third leading cause of burn injuries is contact with a hot surface.
The effects of all of these are the same. Accident victims end up with a devastating and painful injury that requires years of recovery time. In the meantime, they incur high medical costs and may miss considerable time from work.
Lawsuits For Burn Injuries That Happen in The Home
Most burn injuries occur in the home. If you are renting an apartment or a home, the landlord’s negligence could be a cause of the fire. The landlord has obligations for the safety of their tenants.
This includes things like:
- Installing and inspecting smoke alarms
- Ensuring that the wiring is safe
- Having clearly marked escape routes
- Placing working fire extinguishers throughout the property
You can likely sue landlords for negligence if they fail to take the necessary measures to keep tenants safe from burn injuries. The landlord could also be liable if the appliances in the residence malfunction and burn the resident.
Home Appliances That Can Burn Consumers
Even those who have suffered burns in their own home might have a possible lawsuit if an appliance caused the fire in their home. There are numerous everyday products used in a home that can be defective and cause a fire.
- Power strips
- Stoves dryers
If a homebuilder recently built the home, they might be liable if defective electrical wiring caused the fire. In fact, defective electrical work is a leading cause of home fires.
The Four Different Types of Burns
Injured accident victims can suffer four primary types of burns:
- Thermal burns – this is the most common type of burn that comes from contact with fire, steam, hot liquids, or any other sources of extreme heat
- Chemical burns – contact with acid or a chemical explosion causes these types of burns
- Light burns – this usually comes from an extreme sunburn or exposure to ultraviolet light
- Radiation burns – these are rare, coming after contact with nuclear radiation
The Different Degrees of Burns
Within these categories of burns, there are different degrees of severity. They are:
- First-degree Burns – these are minor types of burns where only the top layer of skin is damaged. These are not usually the burns that require extensive medical treatment, and time can heal them within a week.
- Second-degree Burns – these burns damage beneath the top layer of skin and can result in painful blisters. You, or better yet, a healthcare professional, must bandage them, and they can take weeks to heal.
- Third-degree Burns – these are the types of burns that are at issue in most personal injury cases. They are among the most severe types of burns. These burns reach well beyond the skin, and they can affect organs, bones, and tissue. Third-degree burns require significant treatment both in the short term to save the victim’s life and in the long run to help them recover.
There are fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree burns that are the most severe burns possible. Accident victims often do not survive these types of burns.
The Dangers and Consequences of Major Burns
When an accident victim suffers third-degree burns, they will require extensive medical intervention. In the short term, patients need emergency care to stabilize them. One of the most immediate short-term effects that can endanger the patient is that the body can go into shock. Burn shock can lead to reduced oxygen levels and organ failure.
In the intermediate term, the biggest danger to the accident victim is infection. The body is already dealing with a weakened immune system because of the shock of the burns. The burns expose the body to more pathogens, and the patient can suffer from sepsis or pneumonia.
The immediate risk for infection does not go down until a medical professional removes the affected burn tissue. This requires multiple surgeries. At that point, doctors should have an understanding of the reconstructive work that is necessary. Removing tissue is just the start of your recovery.
Treating Third-Degree Burns
Third-degree burns will not heal on their own, as the damage is too severe. Therefore, the patient will require a series of skin grafts at the burn site. These use a combination of natural and artificial skin. Burn patients will often need years of many skin grafts, as medical professionals often cannot repair the site all at once. These surgeries have painful recoveries and damages beyond just the expense of the surgery.
Even after the patient is out of short-term danger, their ordeal is just beginning. Their injuries can leave them with disfiguration of their skin that may never fully go away. In addition, burns are incredibly painful. Their daily life can be a combination of therapy and other treatments for months after their burns. Oftentimes, burn recovery can take years. They may need extensive occupational and physical therapy to recover as much as they can.
Costs Associated with Burn Injuries
In the meantime, burn victims will incur significant damages every day. First, the medical process of recovery is extremely expensive. One 2013 study found that the cost of treating severe burns without complications tops $1.5 million. The average cost of a skin graft nears $20,000. More extensive procedures can reach $30,000, and a patient will need far more than just one skin graft. They may need dozens over the years.
We have just touched on the medical costs associated with treating serious burns. The other costs can be considerable. First, the burn victim may need to miss quite a bit of work time while they are having all of their treatments. Each skin graft requires a recovery time. Getting medical treatment may be a full-time job for years for severe burns, with continuous procedures and recovery time.
In addition, burns are among the most painful injuries that one can suffer. Initially, burn victims are in excruciating pain and require strong pain medication. This pain may not subside for months, and third-degree burns do not heal on their own. As a result, pain and suffering is a large part of a burn victim’s damages.
In this case, pain and suffering can include:
- The physical pain from the burn
- Emotional distress
- Cognitive changes
Further, one of the largest parts of burn accident injuries is payment for disfigurement. Severe burn injuries leave victims with permanent scars. When they are prominent, it will impact the rest of their lives. They can receive compensation for permanent disfigurement. This is often one of the largest elements of burn injury settlements.
The Legal Process After A Serious Burn Injury
There are two parts of the process for receiving financial compensation after a burn injury. The first is showing that someone else was legally responsible for your injuries. The second is proving your actual damages.
Demonstrating that someone else is to blame for your injuries involves the same test as every single personal injury case, no matter what type. You must demonstrate that there was a responsible party who was negligent. Stated briefly, negligence means that someone acted unreasonably under the circumstances, and it caused your injury. This requires evidence about the accident that could show who was to blame.
Proving your damages involves understanding what you can claim as compensation in an injury claim and how much your claim is worth. While it is easy to show your past medical bills, you would need a good estimate of what you would need to spend in the future. This is especially true for an injury like burns, where you may need multiple surgeries over many years.
How To Measure Pain and Suffering In A Burn Injury Case
The difficult conversation comes with pain and suffering. If you are filing an insurance claim, you can be certain that the insurance company will try to minimize what you are going through to avoid paying you. Their favorite tool is an objective formula where they assign a multiplier to your medical bills to come up with the pain and suffering calculation.
That in no way adequately compensates you for your own experience. The insurance company does not know about your day-to-day struggles, nor do they care. They just want to find a clean and easy way to pay you less than you deserve.
You need someone to tell your story and make sure that they understand what you are going through. An attorney could help present your claim and explain the exact impacts of your injuries, advising you to reject a settlement offer that does not fairly compensate you.
It is essential to get enough money in a burn injury settlement because there will be many future costs. You should resist the urge to take a quick settlement. The chances are that it will not fully compensate you, leaving you short of money when you need it in the future.
Given the extremely high costs of burn injury treatment and the severe impact that your injury has had on your life, you should not let the insurance company take advantage of you. Hiring an experienced attorney is one way to put pressure on the insurance company, so they cannot pad their profits at your expense.
Zephyrhills Burn Injury FAQs
How Much Compensation Can I Get for a Burn Injury?
This all depends on the severity of your burn. If your burn is minor and only requires some initial treatment, you could expect to pay $10,000 to $20,000 in medical bills. However, third-degree burns will result in much higher expenses.
You have the legal right to seek payment for all of your damages, no matter how high they are, and we can help you do that.
Compensation is an individualized consideration. Two burn victims could suffer the same injury and receive different amounts of compensation. Each accident has its own factors that play into how much compensation the victims could receive.
How Do I Know Now What My Future Medical Care Needs Will Be?
Burn victims will need treatment for years. They will need repeated skin grafts, often requiring dozens of surgeries. Each of these surgeries can cost an average of $25,000. An accident victim does not know at the time of their injury how many surgeries they will need in the future. They may not even know this when they present the claim to the insurance company.
This is why burn victims will need a detailed diagnosis of the extent of their injury. They may also need a medical expert who can testify about the proper course of treatment.
This is why burn victims should consider being patient and take some time to understand the scope of their injuries before they file a lawsuit or begin the claims process. The last thing that they want is to learn after the fact that their condition is worse than they thought. Then, they cannot go back and get more money if they already settled their claim.
What Different Burn Injury Lawsuits Can I File?
You can sue for whatever the tort is that caused your injury. For example, if an appliance you bought online injures you, you could file a lawsuit against both the product’s manufacturer and the online seller. This would be a product liability lawsuit.
If you suffered an injury in a fire in an apartment building, you could file a premises liability lawsuit against the owner. They must take reasonable steps to keep tenants safe.
Other than that, burn injury cases will follow the rules of negligence cases. You can file a personal injury case, arguing that someone acted unreasonably under the circumstances. If someone set the fire that injured you, an intentional tort lawsuit is what you would file.
Who Can I Sue in a Burn Injury Lawsuit?
You can sue whoever was responsible for your injuries, whether it was a person who caused the fire or a company that was to blame. In many cases, you will actually take action against a corporate defendant. For example, a hotel fire injured you; you could sue the owner of the hotel, a holding company that owns the franchise, or the hotel company itself. If an apartment fire injured you, the building’s owner and management company could be defendants in the lawsuit.
It is in your best interest to find a company to sue for your injuries. The chances are that they have a much larger insurance policy in place that could cover the full extent of your injuries. Policy limits will not be as much of an issue. If any employee of a company was to blame for your injuries while they were on the job, their employer could be legally responsible for your injuries. Employees are agents of the companies for which they work.
How Do I Know Who Was Responsible for My Injuries?
If there is a fire, it will be subject to an official investigation that will determine the cause of the fire. Investigators may treat the fire as a crime scene and perform interviews and use forensic tactics to figure out the cause. Once you know the cause of the fire, you would have a stronger sense of whether it was really an accident or whether you can blame someone for it.
If you have suffered an injury due to something other than a fire, your lawyer will investigate the incident the same as they would for any other personal injury claim. They would examine the physical evidence, speak with experts and witnesses to determine the cause of your burns. In a scalding accident, it would be more clear who was to blame for your injuries.
What if My Child Suffers a Burn?
In some cases, it is your child who has suffered the injury. Perhaps there was a fire in their school, or they suffered burns from defective toys. Either way, your child has the same legal rights as an adult to receive compensation for their injuries. However, the child cannot file a lawsuit on their own until they reach the age of 18. As parents, you can file a lawsuit on behalf of your child.
Some of the lawsuit proceeds would be needed now to pay for medical care for your child. However, much of the money would be placed in a bank account to be disbursed to your child when they turn 18. You could structure any settlement now to control how your child receives the money once they are an adult. For now, you would act as a trustee for the extra money that your child received.
Will I Need Expert Witnesses in My Case?
Your lawyer will need to work with a variety of expert witnesses as they seek to establish fault and your damages.
The list of necessary experts may include:
- Skincare experts who can testify about the number of procedures that will be necessary to help the victim recover as much as possible
- Healthcare inflation experts who can testify about the price of these procedures and how they may increase in the future
- Vocational experts who will give their opinion about whether the burn victim can work and how much the injury would reduce their ability to earn money
- Psychologists who will testify about the mental and emotional effects of the injury on the victim
We know expert witnesses that local juries will trust, and can call them to testify for you if needed to strengthen your claim.
The Insurance Company Has Offered Me a Settlement. Should I Accept it?
Many accident victims are thrilled when they get an offer from the insurance company because they think that it means that they have won their case. However, the settlement offer is just the beginning of the process in many cases.
It is one thing for the insurance company to offer you money for your burn injuries. It is another thing for the insurance company to offer enough money to fairly compensate you for your injuries. The two are completely different things.
Before you accept a settlement offer, you need to know the value of your claim and how close the offer is to that number. The chances are that the initial settlement offer and the ones after that may not be very close to that number.
Your lawyer will review any settlement offer and let you know how close it is to paying you what you legally deserve. If the offer is not in the right ballpark, you may reject it and file your own demand for the money that covers your losses fully. You are under no obligation whatsoever to accept a low settlement offer.
Should I Settle My Case or Take it to Trial?
This all depends on your own particular needs and whether the insurance company is being reasonable in settlement negotiations. Sometimes, you may not have a choice in this, and the insurance company will make that decision for you. They may deny your claim completely, leaving you no choice but to file a lawsuit. Alternatively, they may refuse to fairly compensate you, meaning that you have to go to a jury to have them decide damages.
Most plaintiffs will prefer to settle their case. There is the risk of getting nothing if you go to a trial. In addition, a personal injury trial will take years from start to finish, and you may need the money now. However, juries tend to award plaintiffs more money than they would get in a settlement agreement. There are tradeoffs for everything in the compensation process.
Even if you take your case to court, that does not rule out an eventual settlement. Most cases that start in court will settle before the case reaches a jury. Your lawyer will advise on the best strategy for your case, in part based on how the insurance company is acting.
Why Do I Need an Attorney for My Burn Injury Case?
To collect compensation for your injuries, you will need to prove that someone else was to blame for your injuries. This requires proof of what happened to cause the accident. When you are dealing with serious injuries, you are not in the condition necessary to go out and gather evidence on your own. Further, you may not even know how to preserve evidence and obtain it.
Once you hire an attorney, they will immediately get to work to investigate the cause of the accident and gather the evidence that might show that someone else was responsible.
Then, your attorney would work to obtain financial compensation. This may mean going through the insurance company’s claims process or filing a lawsuit in court. The legal process takes work and the expertise of an experienced attorney who knows how to handle a claim.
People who lawyers represent do far better in the personal injury process than those who try to represent themselves. This is not just a lawyer saying this to drum up business. Numerous statistical studies back this up.
What Happens if a Fire Burns Me at Work?
If your injury happened on the job, you would need to proceed through the workers’ compensation system. You do not really have much choice. Unless you can prove that a third party was responsible for your injury (not your employer or fellow employee), you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. The only exception is if your coworker was grossly negligent.
Workers’ compensation payments are less than personal injury settlements because they do not fully compensate for lost wages, and they do not cover pain and suffering. However, they do cover your medical bills, and you will collect compensation much sooner than you would for a personal injury claim.
In addition, you do not need to prove fault in a workers’ compensation claim. It doesn’t matter who (if anyone) was negligent. So long as your injury occurred on the job or was related to the job, you can receive benefits. This is true even if a mistake that you made led to your injuries. The workers’ compensation system will rarely ask about what happened. It will just want to see medical evidence and a connection to your job.
Can I Afford a Burn Injury Lawyer?
Money is not a consideration when hiring our burn injury attorneys. Families who already struggle with financial losses and expenses need not worry about whether they can afford our services. You do not need to write a check upfront, nor do you need to pay your lawyer by the hour. Even if your case goes to trial, you will not need to worry about paying us.
In a burn injury case, we will receive a part of the proceeds from your settlement or jury award. This is called a contingency fee. If you do not win your case, you don’t pay us. In that way, we share some of the same risks as you do.
This enables you to hire an attorney without having to think about money. Without a contingency system, many accident victims could not pursue compensation for their injuries because a lack of money could get in the way.
Zephyrhills Burn Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one have suffered burn injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You should contact a lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your case. The attorneys at Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers can help you. Call us today at (813) 489-6485 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options. You can hold the person who caused your injuries accountable and get the money that you need to pay for your injuries.