Did you get injured from a burn due to someone else’s negligence? You may be entitled to compensation. Call our law firm for a free consultation.
Most of us have experienced a burn of some kind. Whether it is from grabbing a hot dish from the oven or sitting just a little too close to a campfire, even minor burns can cause a lot of pain.
But what if you’ve been burned in a structure fire? Or what if that mysterious chemical under the sink at work leaves you waiting in the emergency room? Some burns are due to the negligence of another party, and require extensive and sometimes lifelong treatment. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a burn accident near Long Beach, California, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact one of the experienced burn injury attorneys from Madison Law Group today to go over your options.
Most Common Causes of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries happen under numerous circumstances. Some of the most common are:
Depending on where you work, you may know of the risk of experiencing a burn injury. These usually come in the form of explosions, thermal burns, and exposure to toxic chemicals. If your burn injury happened at work, you may be entitled to not only a workers compensation claim, but also a claim against a manufacturer or distributor. More information on workplace burn injuries is discussed below.
If a product doesn’t work the way it is advertised and then it explodes, ignites, or causes chemical burns, you may be able to seek compensation from the designer, manufacturer, or retailer of the product. Some products that may cause a burn include:
- Clothing: Some clothing is more flammable than others. This includes textiles made from cotton, linen, acrylic, and a lot of loose-fitting clothing. This is especially a danger to children, which is why under United States law, all clothing marketed as children’s pajamas must be either snug fitting or fire resistant.
- Beauty Products: Burns from beauty products can range from a curling iron that heats much too quickly or to a dangerous temperature, or chemical burns caused by skincare or makeup. Some products containing salicylic acid and potassium hydroxide have been known to cause burns, nerve damage, and scarring.
- Home Appliances: Small appliances such as toasters, toaster ovens, and space heaters account for an overwhelming number of residential fires every year. Large appliances like stoves, ovens, and dryers are also known to start fires if the appliance malfunctions or if proper safety procedures are ignored.
- Furniture and Mattresses: Some furniture and mattresses are extremely flammable depending on the material used to make them. This can cause a fire to spread quickly, which can lead to burns as residents attempt to leave a burning residence.
- Heating Pads: Heating pads emit heat, and if they lack an automatic turn-off feature or otherwise malfunction, the user of the heating pad may be burned due to extended contact. They can also cause fires if left on around flammable material.
- Products for Children: Any motorized children’s toy has the potential to malfunction and cause a fire. Bottle warmers can also sometimes heat liquid to an alarming temperature and cause burns.
- Vehicle Parts: Parts used in cars, trucks, or boats such as tires, brakes, air bags, and the parts within the motor, can all malfunction and lead to a potential burn, fire, or explosion.
House and Structure Fires
Homes and other structures can catch fire for numerous reasons. It is common in older homes for wiring to wear out and ignite, and in newer homes due to faulty wiring, broken smoke detectors, or defective appliances. A chimney that hasn’t been properly cared for can cause catastrophic damage to a home. Burn injuries and death can happen if a person is unable to escape a fire, which is sometimes due to safety procedures being ignored. If proper ventilation, smoke detectors, or fire exits are not provided by a landlord or employer, you may be able to file a claim against them.
Motor Vehicle Fires
While it is unlikely that a car will explode on impact these days, vehicles do still cause burn injuries due to hot fluids, or flames from defective parts.
Types of Burn Injuries
Different types of burns can have different effects and cause varying injuries. Some types of burns include:
- Thermal burns are caused when a heat source raises the temperature of the skin and surrounding tissues and causes cell death or charring. They are usually caused by hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, or fire coming into contact with the skin.
- Radiation burns are caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. They can happen if someone spends too much time in the sun, or even X-rays.
- Chemical burns are caused by strong acids, alkalies, detergents, or solvents coming into contact with the skin or eyes. This can happen if proper safety gear isn’t used when handling cleaning supplies, or by using certain skin care products containing salicylic acid and potassium hydroxide.
- Electrical burns are caused by electrical current coming into contact with the skin. These can be especially dangerous because the damage can be done internally and not show up on the skin.
- Other types of burns include the small percentage of burns caused by frostbite (a cold burn that can cause just as much damage as a burn caused by heat) and friction burns. Friction burns are also known by what caused them: rug burns, carpet burns, or rope burns.
Any of these burn types can potentially leave you susceptible to nerve damage and infections. If you’ve suffered any type of burn injury, it is a good idea to seek help from a medical professional.
Degrees of Burn Injuries
- First-degree burns: These are the most common type of burn injury and happen if someone comes into minimal contact with a hot surface or even a sunburn. A first-degree burn site is red, painful, and dry but does not blister. These rarely have long-term effects. A poorly treated first-degree burn can become infected, however, which can make the injury much worse.
- Second-degree burns: This type of burn penetrates the outermost layer of skin (the epidermis) and part of the next layer (dermis) of skin. Blistered and swollen skin usually accompanies second-degree burns, and they can be very painful. Second-degree burns should be examined by professional medical personnel, as blistered skin can easily become infected if not treated properly.
- Third-degree burns: These burns destroy both the epidermis and dermis. They may also damage bones, muscles, and tendons. When damage reaches bone, muscle, or tendons, we sometimes refer to them as fourth-degree burns. The burn site will appear white or charred, and generally, there is very little pain involved as nerve endings have been destroyed. These types of burns must be treated by medical professionals within a hospital with a burn center. Without immediate medical attention, the victim of these severe burn injuries will face life-threatening consequences.
While first-degree burns rarely have lasting effects, second and third-degree burns can leave behind a range of complications, including scarring, nerve damage, and loss of skin elasticity. Third-degree burns have an increased risk of life-threatening infections, and fourth-degree burns are considered catastrophic injuries that can result in death.
Calculating Burn Size
Doctors measure the size of burn based on the total body surface area (BSA) affected by the burn. This is calculated with a tool known as the Wallace Rule of Nines, or simply the Rule of Nines. This rule assigns different values to areas of the body. For example, most body parts have been assigned 9%, with larger areas such as the back or legs being assigned 18%. Smaller areas may be assigned 1%. If a patient has burns covering their legs and back, they will say the burn has a 36% BSA.
Burn Injury Treatment
The way a burn injury is treated will depend on the severity and the location of the burn. First-degree burns can be treated at home and usually heal on their own within a couple of weeks. Some minor burns may need treatment from a medical professional, but can generally be treated with basic first aid and antibiotics.
More serious burns might require more extensive treatment. Severe burn injuries will require a hospital visit or a stay at a burn center. The most common treatments for severe burn injuries include:
- Fluids: Burn patients are at risk for dehydration and may require an IV to stay hydrated and prevent organ failure.
- Medication for pain and anxiety: These can be administered via IV in the immediate aftermath of a burn accident. Burns can be incredibly painful and many patients experience anxiety in the days following the injury.
- Creams and ointments: Specialized creams and ointments are used during the recovery process to enhance healing.
- Antibiotics: Burn injuries are especially prone to infection due to the damage done to the body and exposure to outside bacteria. Antibiotics will reduce the risk of life threatening infections developing.
- Breathing assistance: If a victim has burns near the face or neck, or if they inhaled smoke or dangerous chemicals, they may require oxygen masks or intubation to ensure proper airflow.
- Surgery: Surgery following burn injuries usually comes in the form of skin grafting, where skin is removed from healthy areas and placed over burn sites.
- Occupational or physical therapy: Some burn injuries will affect the joints, and scarred skin may need help being stretched for proper elasticity and flexibility. Therapists will work with patients using special exercises to improve muscle strength and facilitate joint improvement.
Burn Rehabilitation Programs
In some cases, severe burns may require long-term treatment. Specialized burn rehabilitation programs may offer victims the following:
- Complex wound care
- Pain management
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Cosmetic reconstruction
- Skin grafting
- Counseling or therapy for the treatment of emotional or psychological needs
- Patient and family education and counseling
- Nutritional counseling for any diet changes that may be needed
Long-Term Effects of Burn Injuries
A severe burn injury can have many lasting effects, not only physically but emotionally, as well. Some people face extensive scarring, physical deformity, disfigurement, loss of limbs, recurrent infections and loss of mobility. If the burn penetrates into the muscle, bone, or tendons, the tissue damage can affect organ function, immunity, and other major systems within the body.
Burns can also cause lasting psychological damage and may require ongoing treatment for depression, anxiety, nightmares, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes the injured person or their families may need grief counseling to overcome feelings of loss.
Compensation for Burn Injuries
- Medical expenses: This can include doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and the costs of treatment.
- Surgical procedures: If you require surgery or skin grafting, you may be able to receive compensation for these costs.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation: Ongoing aftercare for a burn injury can be costly. You should not have to foot the bill on your own.
- Counseling and therapy: Psychological treatment costs, such as therapy or prescription medications, might be recovered through a civil claim.
- Lost wages: If you were severely injured in a burn accident, you may miss work and thus lose income. Our attorneys can work with you to get your wages recovered.
- Loss of earning potential: If your burn injuries cause lasting effects, it may interfere with your career. Because of this, you may be able to recover compensation for the loss of earning potential.
Some losses do not come with a set price tag. These can be more difficult to recover but are worth pursuing. Non-economic damages can include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life
When calculating compensation for your injuries, judges and juries will consider:
- The severity of the burn injuries
- Whether or not you will fully recover
- Where the injuries happened
- Whether your occupation will be affected by your injuries
- Whether the injuries will affect your family
- Your age
No two burn injuries are alike, and neither are their claims. Insurance companies and courts must consider all the facts before arriving at a fair compensation amount.
If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will likely need to prove that someone’s negligent or reckless behavior caused your injury. To do so, you must prove that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. Duty of care refers to the legal obligation to use reasonable care to not injure others.
- The defendant breached that duty of care.
- Your injuries were fully or partially caused by that breach in duty of care.
California practices comparative negligence laws, which means that even if you are partially responsible for your injuries, you can still receive damages. The amount you receive will simply be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but are found to be 30% responsible for the injury, you will receive $70,000 instead.
Madison Law Group can help you build a case to prove negligence, as it can be a difficult process to navigate on your own.
Determining who is liable for a burn injury is not always a cut-and-dry process. A burn injury attorney from Madison Law Group will be able to help you determine who is liable for your injuries. For instance:
- If the burn happened on someone else’s property, they may be liable for your injuries. If property owners have failed to follow safety procedures, or if they did not disclose a hazard that may cause a burn, you may be able to file a claim against them.
- If the burn occurred due to a product defect, the manufacturer or retailer may be held responsible for your injury.
- If the burn happened in a car fire, a number of parties could be held responsible. This might include the driver of another vehicle or a parts manufacturer.
- If the accident occurred at work, your employer may be held responsible for your injuries. You can learn more about workplace burn injuries below.
Workplace Burn Injuries
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, work-related fires and explosions are responsible for more than 5,000 burn injuries every year, which is about 15% of all reported burn injuries in the country. Up to 40% of all burn deaths were related to accidents within the workplace. Though substantial measures have been taken to ensure a safe workplace for employees, clearly more work needs to be done.
Thermal burns are the most common type of work-related burn, accounting for 20% of all workplace burn accidents. These are caused by hot liquids, open flames, hot objects, and explosions. Other common types of workplace burn accidents include chemical burns, electrical burns, and sunburns.
Workplace burns can happen anywhere, but they most commonly show up in:
- Manufacturing industries
- Food service industries
- Electric appliance companies
- The automotive industry
- Construction companies
- Chemicals plants
- Paper mills — While only accounting for 4% of burn injuries, paper mills account for the most severe
How an Attorney Can Help
If you’ve experienced a burn injury and you believe it could be due to the actions of another, Madison Law Group can help you through the claims process and represent you in court, should your case need to be escalated. Here are just a few of the ways our attorneys can help:
Determining if Legal Action is Necessary
Not every burn injury warrants a personal injury claim. Our burn accident attorneys can look into your case and advise you on your legal options and the realistic outcome of your unique situation.
A valid claim must have someone else at fault and there must be damages sustained in order to collect compensation. One of our experienced attorneys can gather and analyze evidence to determine who is at fault for your injuries and who you can file a claim against.
Clarifying Negligence and Victim Rights
Burn injury victims have rights that can be difficult to understand. The legal process, and even dealing with insurance companies, can be a lengthy process to navigate. Our attorneys know the laws and know the rights of you as the injured party. We can advise you on how to best handle the situation and keep you from accepting less than you deserve.
Discovering the Maximum Compensation for Damages
The attorneys at Madison Law Group specialize in personal injury claims, so our team can provide you with an estimate in terms of what we think can be achieved if you decide to pursue compensation. We know how to analyze the accident, and the probability of collecting damages from the liable party for maximum compensation. In order to prove these damages, we will help you gather things like:
- Copies of receipts, such as those received from medical expenses or property damage
- Testimonies from eyewitnesses, family members, and healthcare experts
- Tax records that show your earnings
- Expert opinions regarding any future medical treatment or additional expenses
Filing Burn Injury Claims
With the help of our attorneys, you can find out who is responsible for your accident, determine your claim’s value, and make sure your claim is filed on time. We can also help you file a claim against the defendant’s insurance company and make sure you aren’t getting settlement offers that leave you with a financial burden.
Handling the Burn Injury Lawsuit Process
Most burn injuries will go through insurance. This could be your own health insurance and the insurance of the one responsible for your accident. But sometimes insurance companies deny claims, or do not offer a fair settlement. If our attorneys are not able to negotiate a fair settlement for you, we will take your claim to civil court and represent you through the process. With Madison Law Group on your side, we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Statute of Limitations on Burn Injury Accidents
The state of California has a three-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This means if you were the victim of a burn injury, you have three years from the time of the incident to file a claim. The claims process can often be lengthy, especially if it needs to go to court. Because of this, we recommend you file as soon as you can. Call one of our attorneys today to get your claim started as soon as possible. The sooner you file, the sooner you can receive compensation and get your life back on track.
Sometimes, special circumstances could mean your statute of limitations is less than the normal three years. This is another reason why it is so important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Burn Injury Statistics
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burns are a global public health problem. Those in low and middle income areas are especially vulnerable, as are children. Burns that are not fatal are still the leading cause of morbidity (suffering from a disease or medical condition) worldwide, often requiring prolonged hospitalization, disfigurement, and disability.
In 2016, the American Burn Association released a fact sheet regarding burn injuries. According to their studies, 486,000 burn injuries are treated annually within hospitals with specialized burn centers in the United States. There are likely many more injuries that take place which require medical treatment, but the injuries were too minor to report or did not require treatment specifically at a burn center.
The same study found that 3,275 of these injuries were fatal. 2,745 happened from residential fires, 310 from vehicle fires, and the remaining 220 occurred in other types of fires.
Other Burn Injury Statistics
- 96.8% of those admitted for burn injuries survive. This does not mean the survivors fully recover, however, and many suffer lifelong disabilities due to their injuries.
- Nearly twice as many men were admitted for treatment than women. This could be because men are more likely to hold an occupation with a risk of fire exposure, and men may be more likely to remain inside a burning structure to make sure everyone else has made it out. However, women have a slightly higher rate of death compared to men.
- Cause of admission: 43% for exposure to fire or flame, and 34% were admitted for scald injuries
- 73% of those admitted experienced their burn at home, 8% happened at work, and 5% happened on the street or on highways
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that in the year 2000, someone was injured in a fire every 23 minutes in the United States. Additionally, they reported that up to 10,000 people die every year from infections related to their burn injuries.
Preventing Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are especially tragic because they are preventable. Some prevention strategies that are currently being developed at a global level include:
- Improving awareness of where and how fires start
- Developing and enforcing effective policies to protect workers and residents
- Identifying risk factors
- Strengthening burn care and treatment centers
Some ways that individuals and communities can help to prevent fires include:
- Enclose fires and limit the size of open flames within domestic environments
- Use safer cookstoves with less hazardous fuel sources (glass-top electric stoves)
- Have your home inspected for any hidden fire hazards, such as poor wiring
- Keep children away from cooktops, ovens, and microwaves
- Lower the temperature of your water heater to prevent scalding
- Install smoke detectors, fire sprinklers, and fire escapes in residential homes (and be sure to test your smoke detectors every six months)
- Support the development of more fire-retardant clothing to be worn while near an open flame (such as while cooking)
- Avoid smoking in bed, and always put out a cigarette before throwing it away
First Aid for Burn Injuries
Almost everyone has experienced some sort of burn in their lifetime. Some basic first aid for burn injuries is listed below:
- Remove clothing to stop the burning process
- Roll on the ground to extinguish flames on your person, or smother flames with a blanket
- Use cool, running water to reduce the temperature of the burn
- Irrigate chemical burns with running water
- Before administering first aid, make sure you are in a safe environment
- Avoid applying paste, oil, or raw cotton to the burn, as these can make the burn worse
- Do not apply ice to the burn site, as it deepens the injury
- Do not open any blisters, as popping blisters can introduce infections to the burn site
The best thing you can do after a burn is to seek medical attention from a professional. Speak to your healthcare provider before applying bandages or ointments to the burn injury.
Contact a Long Beach Burn Injury Lawyer Today
Burn injuries are not only traumatic physically and mentally, but they can be incredibly expensive to treat. Some burn injuries take years to heal and may even impact your quality of life. Even the most minor burn injuries can become infected and cause serious problems down the road.
Call Madison Law Group at (213)-292-5768 or through our online chat system to speak with us today.