A burn injury is a type of tissue injury caused by contact with heat, radiation, corrosive chemicals, electricity, or friction. As with other injuries, you can file a lawsuit over a burn injury if another party is found to be responsible. It isn’t always easy, but if you can prove how negligence or misconduct caused your harm, you should win your burn injury claim.
Who Can I Sue for a Burn Injury in Indiana?
If another party is responsible for your injuries, you can sue them for damages. Someone else may be responsible if their negligent or ill-intentioned actions caused you direct harm. Another party might also be held liable if they’re responsible for the location where you were injured and that location is determined to have been unsafe.
Who Can I Sue for Vehicle Burns?
If you’ve been burned as a result of a car accident, there are typically two parties you can sue. If your injuries were due to a defect in the vehicle, you can sue the vehicle’s manufacturer for burn injury damages.
However, in most car accidents, the party responsible for your medical expenses will be another driver of the accident. Car accidents can result in many different types of injuries, and the liable party is responsible for compensation for all required medical treatment.
Can I Sue for Home Burns?
Your home likely contains dozens of burn hazards.
Ovens, heaters, electrical cords, and chargers are just a few examples of things that could result in a severe burn. Most burn injuries at home are the fault of one of the home’s occupants, which means you can’t seek civil damages for them. However, some burns may be the fault of outside parties.
For example, if you rent your home, your landlord may be liable if they’ve failed to maintain a safe living space. Similarly, when defective products result in burn accidents, the victim has the option to sue the manufacturer. Talk to an attorney if you think another party may be liable for your injuries.
Who Can I Sue for Burns at Work?
Your employer is responsible for ensuring that you have a safe work environment and that all employees follow the proper safety procedures. If those procedures aren’t observed, people can get hurt. Burns are common in workplaces where employees work with hot machinery, near heat sources, or with electrical equipment.
Note, however, that Indiana also requires most employers to carry "Worker's Compensation insurance", which will handle the medical bills and time away from work. This is a very specialized and specific area of the law, and the rules and process for recovery may or may not require the participation of an attorney. If you were injured at work, call Stracci Law to determine if you need to access Worker Compensation, or if you need to sue a third party.
If you’ve been burned in a work accident, you’ll likely be offered workers’ compensation benefits or a quick settlement. Before you accept any settlement or benefits, speak with a personal injury attorney. A skilled lawyer can determine whether your case merits filing a lawsuit to receive maximum compensation.
Can You Sue a Restaurant for a Burn?
Restaurants can present threats to both customers and employees. Employees regularly work near open flames and may come in contact with hot appliances or heated metal utensils. There are limits to when you can sue while on the job, but if a third party’s action resulted in your burn, you may have good grounds for a lawsuit.
As a customer, you’ll need to prove negligence on the part of the restaurant or an employee to sue successfully. If an employee is found to be negligent, you can file a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.
Classification of Burns By Depth of Injury
The medical profession classifies burn injuries by dividing them into four degrees, based on the depth of the injury (how far it penetrates your body).
First Degrees Burns
A first-degree burn is the least serious degree of burn. This type of injury affects only the outer layer of your skin. Symptoms include redness, pain, and swelling in the affected area. In most cases, only first aid is required. Almost everyone has suffered a first-degree burn at some point. They usually heal within about a week.
Second Degree Burns
A second-degree burn affects the top two layers of skin. Symptoms include blistering, swelling, severe pain, and extreme reddening of the skin. A second-degree burn requires medical attention to prevent a potentially life-threatening infection from taking hold and to ease severe pain. Second-degree burns take weeks to heal, and they may leave permanent scars.
Third Degree Burns
As far as most people know, third-degree burn is the most serious burn grade. A third-degree burn destroys the top two layers of skin. It often causes nerve damage, which generates numbness rather than pain. The skin appears dry and charred. You never fully recover from a third-degree burn, although you might make a significant recovery with skin graft operations.
Fourth Degree Burns
Fourth-degree burns are the most severe cases. Many people do not even know of the existence of this category of burn. A fourth-degree burn destroys all the layers of skin, and it is almost always life-threatening.
A fourth-degree burn might also destroy muscle tissue, tendons, bones, and internal organs. Medical attention is an absolute necessity unless the victim dies before medical attention reaches them.
Types of Burn Injuries by Cause
There are several different frequent causes of burn injuries, as described below.
A chemical burn occurs when a corrosive chemical comes into contact with the skin. An acid burn is a typical example of a chemical burn. Solvents and detergents can also cause chemical burns, as can chemical explosions. Chemical burns are common workplace injuries.
Radiation burns include burns caused by:
- Sunlight (probably the single most common cause of burn injuries);
- Radio waves;
- Microwaves (which is why people use them to cook food);
- Medical devices; and
- Nuclear radiation.
Some types of radiation can cause cancer as well as burn injuries.
Electrical burns are also among the most common workplace injuries. You are at risk for an electrical burn any time your body comes into contact with an electrical current of sufficient strength. A high-voltage burn can be life-threatening and can even cause instant death.
Strictly speaking, a scald burn injury is a type of thermal burn. You suffer a scaled burn when your skin comes into contact with hot water, liquid, or steam.
A thermal burn is the most common type of burn injury. But what is a thermal burn? It is an injury caused by skin contact with hot steam, hot liquid, any hot surface, or fire. People associate fire and burn injuries for good reason–fire is one of the most common types of burns.
A friction burn injury occurs when your skin scrapes against a hard object such as asphalt, rubbing off some of your skin. Motorcyclists speak of “road rash”, which is a friction burn caused by a motorcycle accident.
Injuries and Complications After a Burn
Complications of a burn injury are frequently more dangerous than the burn injury itself. That is why complications can turn an ordinary burn injury lawsuit into a wrongful death lawsuit. Common burn injury complications suffered by burn victims include:
- Infections (the most common cause of death from a burn injury);
- Extreme pain;
- Skin breakdown;
- Organ damage;
- Psychological trauma, including suicidal impulses;
- Difficulties breathing, usually as a consequence of smoke inhalation;
- Blood clotting due to being bedridden;
- Illnesses that would normally be prevented by healthy skin.
Many other complications and side effects can occur as well.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
Where do most burn injuries occur? Following is a list of some of the most common locations:
- On the highway. Auto accidents and motorcycle accidents frequently cause burn injuries, among many other types of injuries;
- At work. A burn injury at work can generate a workers’ compensation claim or a product liability claim, among others;
- Kitchens, both at home and in restaurants. Hot liquids and corrosive chemicals cause a high percentage of kitchen-based burn injuries;
- The vicinity of power lines and electrical equipment, particularly for workers who deal with high-voltage equipment;
- Outdoors during activities like camping trips where people might light a bonfire or campfire;
- In the home when using candles or when setting a fire in the fireplace;
- At a gas station. Gas is corrosive when it comes into contact with the skin and carelessness can result in a chemical burn.
Ultimately, a burn injury can occur almost anywhere.
Burn Injury Compensation
You might wonder about the average compensation for a burn injury, but this statistic is virtually meaningless. Since burn injuries vary widely in severity, burn injury claims cover a very wide range of compensation demands. Furthermore, burn injury settlement amounts often depend on external factors, such as insurance coverage limits and the skill of your attorney.
Burn injury settlements and verdicts do tend to be high, however, because of the various ways that a burn injury can impact the victim’s health, psychology, and earning potential. Some of the common components of a typical burn injury settlement include:
- Medical bills. Medical bills are often sky-high, and treatment needs (skin graft operations, etc.) might extend for years into the future;
- Lost earnings can be immense, especially for a young victim rendered occupationally disabled by a burn injury;
- Pain and suffering, which can be horrific for certain types of burn injuries. Unfortunately, if you suffer a burn injury at work, compensation might fall within the jurisdiction of the workers’ compensation system. This will probably render you ineligible for pain and suffering damages;
- A victim may suffer significant mental anguish because of disfigurement and scarring.
Never underestimate your future financial needs after a burn injury. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you won’t be able to come back for more money later. When you hire an experienced firm like Stracci Law, we can make sure that the compensation you receive addresses these concerns.
Damages Available for an Indiana Burn Injury
There are two types of burn injury damages that you can receive as part of a lawsuit: economic damage and non-economic damages.
Economic damages pay for expenses or losses you received. Examples include:
- Medical expenses, including long-term therapy;
- Lost income due to work time missed while recovering;
- Potential lost earnings if you can no longer do certain types of work;
- Property damage;
- Other expenses like required assistance with life activities.
Non-economic damages represent losses that don’t have an objective monetary value. These include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental or emotional distress (treatment or therapy is covered by economic damages, though);
- Loss of relationships, including the death of family members.
An experienced personal injury attorney can determine the likely value of economic damages and non-economic damages before you file a lawsuit.
The Quality of Your Legal Representation Matters
If you have suffered harm from a burn injury caused by the misconduct of someone else, or by a defective product, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Experienced and skilled attorneys, like those at Stracci Law Group, can help you get the money you need for a quick and stress-free recovery. Our burn injuries attorneys have negotiated a multitude of personal injury burn settlements for our clients. As experienced Northwest Indiana personal injury lawyers, we offer the following advantages.
- A fearsome reputation at trial, rendering opposing parties far more cooperative once they discover that you have hired Stracci Law to represent you;
- Decades of combined experience;
- A proven successful track record of victories in personal injury cases;
- Rich experience in the local legal system, since our attorneys have practiced in Indiana for their entire careers.
Call us at (219) 525-1000 or contact us online. We serve clients in Gary, Crown Point, Hammond, Merrillville, Valparaiso, and elsewhere in Northwest Indiana.