Every year, too many people in the U.S. suffer moderate or severe burn injuries, resulting in physical and emotional scars that may take years to heal or never heal altogether. You may be entitled to compensation if this happens to you because of someone else’s negligence. Here’s what you need to know about seeking financial compensation for burns at work, out in public, or at home.
Have you suffered a burn injury at work? Swor and Gatto’s experienced personal injury lawyers can examine your case’s facts and circumstances. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Why Hire a Burn Injury Attorney?
A burn injury lawyer can be a valuable resource after a burn injury, helping cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages while holding the responsible parties accountable.
Here are just a few reasons to consider hiring legal representation after a burn injury:
Determine liability. A personal injury lawyer can help determine who is responsible for your burn injury and what legal options are available.
Negotiate with insurance companies. Insurance companies may minimize the money they should pay out in burn injury cases. We can work with the insurance company toward a fair settlement.
Represent you in court. If you cannot settle with the insurance company, you may need to file a lawsuit. Our burn injury lawyers can help you present your case and represent you in court.
Help you understand your legal rights. We can explain your legal rights and options and provide legal guidance based on our years of experience.
What Negligent Behaviors Lead to Burn Injuries?
Here are a few common negligent behaviors of businesses or property owners that can cause burn injuries, including:
- Failure to follow standard fire safety measures: Businesses and property owners are responsible for protecting their premises from fires by maintaining working smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and other fire safety equipment. They’re also required to follow adequate prevention measures.
- Failure to train employees on fire safety: Employees must be adequately trained in fire safety measures and procedures.
- Failure to maintain heating and electrical systems: To prevent fires and shocks, heating and electrical systems must be cared for properly.
- Failing to label and store hazardous materials properly: Dangerous materials (i.e., chemicals and flammable liquids) must be appropriately labeled and stored to prevent fires and other accidents.
- Failing to maintain appliances properly: Appliances, such as stoves and hot water heaters, must be adequately maintained to prevent fires.
If a business or property owner’s negligent behavior results in your burn injury, they may be liable to cover your damages.
Seeking Compensation for Burns at Work
You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer a burn injury. Workers’ compensation provides financial support to employees injured on the job or who become ill because of their work.
Often, if you’re injured on the job, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury. This means that even if your own actions contributed to the injury, you may still be entitled to benefits.
To begin the process toward workers’ compensation for burns at work, you must file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. We can help you navigate the claims process, negotiate with the insurance carrier on your behalf, and represent you in court if necessary. If your employer or the insurance carrier disputes your claim, we can also talk you through other legal avenues to explore.
Types of Burn Injury Compensation
Compensation for a burn injury can vary due to the circumstances of the incident. Here are a few damages that victims typically recover:
- Medical expenses. You may be able to recover the cost of any medical treatment you received as a result of your burn injury, including hospital stays, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, and other treatments.
- Lost wages. If you were unable to work due to your burn injury, you may be able to recover the wages you lost while you were off work.
- Pain and suffering. You may be able to recover damages for the physical pain and emotional and psychological suffering experienced as a result of your burn injury.
- Loss of consortium. If your injury has affected your ability to have a normal relationship with your spouse or partner, you may be able to recover damages for this loss.
- Property damage: If your injury was caused by a fire or other accident that damaged your property, you may be able to recover the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property.
You may also wind up paying for long-term professional care or become unable to work for an extended period, in which case we can help you seek compensation for those expenses. Once we know more about your case, we’ll help determine these losses as we review your legal options and seek the maximum compensation.
What If I’m Partially Responsible for My Burn?
You may receive reduced damages if you’re partially responsible for your burn injury. Most likely, your damages will be reduced by an amount proportional to your level of fault, according to the legal principle of “comparative fault,”
For example, if you were awarded $100,000 in damages for your burn injury but determined you were 25% at fault, your damages would be reduced by $25,000, leaving you with a total of $75,000.
The rules for determining fault and reducing damages vary from state to state. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you understand how Minnesota rules may affect damages for your burn injury.
Types and Degrees of Burns
- Thermal burns are the most common burn injuries caused by contact with a hot surface or flame.
- Chemical burns involve contact with corrosive acidic or alkaline chemicals (i.e., car battery acid, bleach, ammonia, pool chlorination products, and teeth whitening products).
- Electrical burns can happen when you make contact with an electrical current.
- Radiation burns come from radiation exposure, including specific medical treatments.
- Friction burns happen when skin is rubbing against a rough surface.
- Cold burns, also known as frostbite, occur after prolonged exposure to extreme cold.
The medical community classified burn injuries according to their severity or degree:
- First-degree burns are the least severe burn injury, affecting only the outer layer of skin, known as the epidermis, and usually cause redness, pain, and swelling. First-degree burns tend to heal within a few days to a week.
- Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and the layer of skin underneath it, known as the dermis. Second-degree burns are typically more painful and may cause blistering. They may take several weeks to heal and require medical treatment, such as wound dressings or skin grafts.
- Third-degree burns are the most severe type of burn injuries. They damage all layers of the skin and may also damage the underlying tissues, muscles, and bones. Third-degree burns may appear white or black and may not be painful, as there’s often accompanying nerve damage. These burns often require extensive medical treatment, such as skin grafts, and may result in permanent scarring, nerve damage, or disability.
Seek medical attention for any burn injury—even seemingly minor burns can become infected or progress more severely.
What to Do If You Experience a Burn Injury
Follow these tips to protect your health and potential legal claim:
Seek Medical Attention Right Away. Certain burn injuries can have a long-term impact. Seeing a doctor will ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. You will also obtain a medical report linking your injury to the accident, a factor that will strengthen your personal injury claim.
Keep a Record of Your Injuries. There is no telling how long your case will take; our injuries may have healed by the time the case goes to trial. Document any injuries and record how they have impacted your life. Keep a copy of your medical records handy and take pictures of your injuries at every stage of your recovery. This documentation will act as evidence, helping you build a strong case when seeking compensation.
Report the Matter to Your Manager. Inform your workplace manager of the incident as soon as possible. Communicate in writing rather than verbally, and keep a copy of the correspondence. A report can help your supervisor create a safer work environment and protect your legal rights to compensation.
Notify Your Workmaters. After suffering a burn injury at work, let your colleagues know to help prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. Tell them that you have notified the manager of the accident. Keep a record of witnesses who saw the accident and the resultant burn injury.
Gather Relevant Evidence. You’ll need to collect evidence to get fair compensation for your injuries. Documentation can help prove that the accident was a result of someone else’s fault and that it led to the burn injuries you sustained. Get photos and video footage to help you demonstrate what happened. This kind of evidence will be difficult to dispute.
Contact a Burn Injury Lawyer. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation, collect evidence, and explain your legal options while working to protect your legal rights. Then, your lawyer will make a solid case to increase your chances of getting a fair deal, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in court if the case proceeds to trial.
File a Compensation Claim. Once we’ve reviewed your case and established that your evidence is strong, you must file a claim. We can handle the necessary paperwork, work towards a quick settlement, and help maximize your compensation. This approach gives you ample time to focus on your recovery.
Find the Source Of Your Burn Injury
Burn injuries come from many circumstances:
- Faulty products, for instance, can leak caustic substances or cause fires. These can be part of product liability settlements and can be from products being extremely flammable or having a design flaw that causes problems.
- It might not be a product to blame but a company neglecting basic safety. A hotel might set its hot water system too hot for safety, resulting in scalding injuries for employees or guests.
- You might have been burned while performing your regular work duties when your company has neglected safety procedures.
- If your injuries were from a preventable accident, your case may be more challenging to prove—you’ll need someone who specializes in workers’ compensation claims.
- When your injury was caused by ‘gross negligence,’ the party that caused the burn may have blithely put people in danger. This can lead to punitive damages. The case could possibly be settled for a more significant amount, but don’t count on punitive damages—gross negligence is notoriously hard to prove.
Minnesota Burn Injury Lawyers Swor & Gatto Can Represent Your Case
Burn injuries leave psychological and physical wounds that can take a long time to heal. At Swor & Gatto, our Minnesota burn injury attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case, putting our years of experience to work for you.
If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury, Swor & Gatto in St. Paul is here to help you fight for compensation. To discuss your case, call us at 651-454-3600 or reach out online.