Burns are one of the most painful and life-threatening injuries a person can suffer, as well as one of the longest wounds to heal. When burns are catastrophically severe, the healing can take years or even a lifetime. This pain is made worse when the victim and their family and loved ones know that the injuries were caused by another person’s negligent action or inaction. Here are some factors to consider when determining if you need to speak to a burn injury attorney following a burn injury.
When are Burn Injuries Considered Catastrophic?According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) over 1 million Americans each year suffer burn injuries that require medical attention. Of this number, at least 50,000 require hospitalization, 25,000 have burns on over 25% of their body, and at least 4,500 die. Additionally, 10,000 Americans die of burn-related infections each year. Though the public often considers third-degree burns the most severe type of burn, there are actually four degrees of burns.
- First-degree burns can be treated with what is commonly found in a first aid kit.
- Second-degree burns cause blisters, and can require professional medical treatment, especially if they cover more than 10% of the body.
- Third-degree burns are the start of what are considered catastrophic burns. These permeate the skin to the layer of fat (adipose tissue) underneath and leave skin looking leathery, white, and waxy. Recovery may require skin grafts.
- Fourth-degree burns affect the muscle, organs, and bones, with the affected area often looking blackened or charred.
- Loss of motion
- Nerve damage
- Painful scar tissue
- Infection and other comorbidities
- Chronic pain
- Joint contracture
- Overheating (due to permanently melted pores)
How is Liability Determined in Burn Injury Cases?Here are some of the situations where another party might be deemed liable for catastrophic burn injuries:
- Car or Trucking Accident: When a car or truck accident happens due to another driver’s negligence, they can always be pursued for damages like lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills. This includes circumstances where a driver or passenger suffered severe burns.
- Defective Product: Manufacturers and retailers can potentially be held liable when a defective product results in catastrophic burns. Examples could include a defective toy, improperly manufactured or stored cosmetics that cause chemical burns, flammable clothing, defective appliances, flammable mattresses or bedding, holiday decorations, electronics, and more.
- House and Apartment Fires: Faulty wiring and other improper contracting work or maintenance are common causes of house and apartment fires. When a landlord knew about these issues and did not address them, they are responsible for burns and other injuries, losses, or damages suffered in the fire. The same liability would apply to a contractor or home inspector that knew about an issue but did not fix it or make it known to the owners.