Whether you can sue if you get burned at work depends on all the circumstances. If you work for an employer that carries workers’ compensation, you can’t sue your employer for your burn injury. If you work for a non-subscriber employer, you can sue if your injuries were caused by negligence. And in both situations, you may be able to bring a third-party claim if a negligent party that wasn’t your employer contributed to your injury accident.
When Employers Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
If your employer provides workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you can file a claim for benefits if you get burned at work. If your claim is approved, workers’ comp coverage will pay for medical care related to your burns and replace a portion of your weekly wages if you miss time at work. Generally, workers’ comp pays 70% of average weekly wages. By law, you can’t sue employers who carry workers’ comp unless you believe the employer intentionally caused your burn injuries, such as through battery or false imprisonment.
Non-Subscriber Employers and Lawsuits
In Texas, employers don’t have to carry workers’ comp. Those who don’t are called non-subscribers. Non-subscriber employers can be sued for negligence. So if your burn injury happened in the workplace due to negligence, you can sue. Companies that opt out of workers’ comp may carry private insurance to cover employees in case of accidents. Even if a non-subscriber pays for your medical costs with their private insurance, if you have severe and expensive burn injuries, you may still be able to sue for pain and suffering and the full range of your other damages.
Third-Party Lawsuits for Burn Injuries
Sometimes the negligence of third parties at workplaces contributes to accidents that involve burns and other injuries. Third parties are individuals or entities who aren’t your direct employer. They could be:
- Contractors at oilfields, construction sites, and elsewhere
- Drivers who deliver supplies to work locations
- Drivers on highways who cause a crash when you are driving for work
- Manufacturers of defective equipment, tools, or other products that malfunction and cause burn injuries
- Property owners who allow hazardous conditions to exist.
Whether you can sue a third-party for burn injuries depends on all the facts of your case.
What Damages Can You Claim for a Burn at Work?
In a lawsuit, the damages you can claim for a burn at work will depend on your specific injuries and losses. Generally, damages in burn injury claims include:
- Medical expenses for doctors, hospitalization, surgeries, skins grafts, therapy, and other treatments
- Costs of prescription and over-the-counter pain medications, antibiotics, and other drugs
- Reimbursement for time missed away from work while you recuperate
- Compensation for loss of earning capacity if you can’t work at all anymore or your ability to work is reduced
- Pain and suffering for your physical pain and emotional trauma from scarring and disfigurement
- Punitive damages meant to punish at-fault parties in cases of gross negligence.
If you tragically lost a family member to workplace burn injuries, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit (and survival action) against the party who caused the accident. Damages in wrongful death lawsuits may include medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering of the deceased, lost income and inheritance, lost love and support, and more.
How Does a Legal Claim for a Workplace Injury Work?
In a legal claim, you sue your employer or another party if you believe their negligence contributed to your burn injuries. Your attorney will evaluate all of your damages to determine the amount of compensation to ask for in a claim. Typically, your attorney will first try to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party (parties) or their insurance company (companies). Most cases are resolved through settlements. But if a fair settlement to pay for your injuries can’t be reached, your attorney will advise you about your options for going to trial. In a trial, all the evidence in the case will be argued before a jury. The jury will then decide the outcome of the case. The jury will also determine how much to award in compensation.
How Workplace Burn Injuries Can Happen
How much you might get in a burn injury lawsuit depends on the severity of your injuries. Burns range from first degree to fourth degree, which are the most serious. There are three general classifications of burns. They include:
- Chemical burns – Chemical burns happen from exposure to acids, solvents, and other corrosive substances. People who work in cleaning professions, manufacturing, chemical plants, laboratories, and oil drilling are some examples of workers who may be at risk of chemical burns.
- Electrical burns – Electricians who work around electricity can suffer electrocution and severe burns. Workers who come into contact with faulty electrical outlets or wiring can also suffer electrical burn injuries.
- Thermal burns – Construction fires resulting from flammable materials and other things are also not unusual and can cause severe burns to construction workers. Foodservice workers are often victims of thermal burns, which affect the skin. These burns result from hot liquids such as cooking oil splashing on the skin or reaching into an oven and coming in contact with hot surfaces or open flames.
These examples are just a small sampling of how workers can be burned on the job. If you are interested in learning whether you can sue a restaurant or another employer for a burn, it’s wise to get skilled legal advice from a work injury attorney.
Reach Out to Our Experienced Houston Burn Injury Lawyers
There are nearly 500,000 burn injuries requiring medical treatment every year, according to the American Burn Association. Serious burn injuries are extremely painful, disfiguring, and expensive to treat. At the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant in Houston, our burn injury lawyers help workers who have been injured get compensation to pay for medical care, lost income, and other losses they’ve suffered. Once we review the facts of your case, we’ll advise you about your potential options for suing for your burn injury. Even if you aren’t sure that you want to sue an employer or other party, we are here to answer all of your legal questions. To schedule a free consultation about your case, call us today at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.