A burn injury is marked by the extreme pain it can cause and the scarring it leaves behind. Skin is very delicate and will sustain major damage within seconds of being exposed to fire or heated metal, and even something as brief as a chemical flash can leave a person with deep tissue damage. Depending on the severity of the tissue damage, a victim may never fully recover and have to live with chronic pain or disfiguring scars. As a result, these lawsuits tend to involve higher settlements, especially if malice or gross negligence is part of the case.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CAUSES OF A BURN INJURY?
Plant explosions, workplace accidents and chemical spills all make up a significant portion of these accidents. The most common cause, though, is vehicle accidents. 2.3 million people were hurt in vehicle crashes in 2013. Though only a portion of these accidents involved fires, it still represents thousands of people who required a hospital stay after being hurt by fire or heated metal.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, as vehicles carry several gallons of highly combustible fuel, as well as motor oil and other flammable fluids. Commercial vehicles involved in a crash may pose a major fire risk, especially if they are carrying fuels or hazardous chemicals. In fact, the worst accidents typically involve cargo trucks for this reason.
The real danger occurs when a person is trapped in their vehicle after an accident. If someone is pinned down after the vehicle flips or if the vehicle is pressed against another object, it may take a long time before emergency responders can extricate the person. During this time, there is a risk of fire sweeping over the vehicle and causing extremely severe tissue damage.
HOW SERIOUS CAN A BURN INJURY BE?
The temperature of the flame or hot surface and the length of exposure to either will determine how extensive the damage is. Tissue damage is rated on a scale, from first degree to third degree, depending on how deep the damage extends. First and some second-degree cases don’t require hospitalization and will heal on their own, though it is recommended that the victim get medical help for pain management and to prevent infection.
Deeper second-degree and third-degree cases can be profoundly damaging and result in gruesome scars and nerve damage. Third-degree cases are so deep that they typically destroy nerve tissue outright, so there may be no pain at the time of the incident. However, as the body heals, chronic pain may present and subsist.
Where the damage is located and how severe it is will have a significant impact on the settlement a victim can attain. If a victim is left scarred in the face, they will likely win additional compensation for emotional distress as well as compensation for medical costs and ongoing therapy. If chronic pain or loss of motor function is also present, then this will increase the chances of a higher settlement. In any case, having an attorney on your side will maximize the likelihood of attaining compensation for any pain and suffering you have experienced.