Burns are one of the most serious types of injuries you can suffer in an accident. Not only are they one of the most painful injuries, burns can be very dangerous with a high risk of complications and a long recovery process.
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious burn injury, a San Diego burn injury attorney can help you by managing your case, gathering evidence, and pursuing the compensation you deserve while you focus on recovery. At Berman and Riedel, LLP, our experience in handling burn injury cases allows us to work closely with medical treatment facilities and our experts to ensure that every effort is made for a chance at a full recovery.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries in San Diego
While not the most common injury type, burn injuries are certainly one of the most devastating. There are four main types of burn injuries: thermal, chemical, electrical, and radiological. Some causes of burn injuries include accidents involving or caused by:
- Defective products
- Chemical substances or explosions
- Flammable materials
- Gas explosions
- Hot liquid burns
- Industrial accidents
- Building/house fires
- Car accident fires
- Workplace accidents including construction site accidents
There are up to 2 million reported cases of burn injury in the United States alone every year, of which over 4,500 are fatal. According to a 2007 study conducted by the American Burn Association, 40% of burn injuries with a known cause occur by fire or flame contact, 30% by scalding, 8% by contact with hot objects, 4% from electrical injury, and 3% from contact with corrosive chemicals. Children and older people are most at risk for suffering a burn injury, and older people are more likely to die from a serious burn injury
About 48% of burn injuries occur in the home (most to children and the elderly), 27% occur on streets or highways (including automobile accidents), and 8% occur in industrial or workplace settings. Burn injuries which occur in the workplace can be caused by dangerous conditions allowed to exist by the employer or by the negligence of third parties.
Annual burn incidence statistics from the American Burn Association:
- 486,000: burns that require medical treatment
- 3,275: deaths from fire and/or smoke inhalation (2,745 from home fires and 310 from vehicle fires)
- 40,000: burn injuries that require hospitalization
Defective products can also be a source of burn injuries, particularly with children’s clothing and toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission works in conjunction with many national organizations, including the American Burn Association and the National Association of Fire Marshalls, to make products safer in order to prevent burn injuries.
Compensation for Burn Injuries in California
Burn injuries aren’t just incredibly painful; they can be debilitating physically and financially. Treatment for burn injury victims is intensive, can be years’ long, and is very expensive. When burn injuries are severe, they may cause permanent disfigurement and scarring, loss of limb, or permanent bodily harm or loss of function. Burn injuries are extremely painful, and may prevent a person from being able to return to their normal way of living, including preventing them from being able to work. A burn injury victim may also suffer from psychological harm as well; a burn injury can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or/and depression.
If you have suffered a burn injury in San Diego, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit and/or workers’ compensation claim. Many parties can be held liable for a burn injury depending on how it happened. For example, the victim of a burn injury that is caused by a defective product – like an exploding e-cigarette – will likely file a lawsuit against the product’s manufacturer.
There is a deadline to file your claim for compensation. In California, there is a two-year statute of limitations. You must file your claim within two years of your injury in order to recover damages.
Types of Damages for Burn Injuries in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When a victim files a personal injury lawsuit for a burn injury, they have the right to seek damages for all losses that they have suffered. This includes economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are easier to calculate and refer to the actual value of financial losses such as:
- Medical bills,
- Future treatment costs,
- Lost wages,
- Future lost wages, and
- All other costs related to the injury such as medical devices, adaptations to the home, home health care, and transportation to treatment.
Noneconomic damages are more challenging to calculate as they refer to intangible and often emotional losses such as:
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of quality of life, and
Who Can Be Held Liable for Burn Injuries in San Diego? – Recovering Damages for a Burn Injury
Burn injury victims have many legal rights and avenues to help them on the long road to recovery. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may have options to recover compensation regardless of negligence or liability. You may also be able to pursue compensation from an at-fault party whose negligence or intentional wrongdoing caused your injuries.
Potential options to recover damages for burn injuries include:
- Government benefits such as unemployment compensation, Social Security disability payments, and medical treatment payment provided through Medicaid.
- Workers’ compensation benefits if the burn injury occurred at work.
- Auto insurance if the burn injury happened as a result of a car accident.
- Personal injury lawsuit if another party’s negligence caused your injury. A lawsuit can provide compensation beyond the options above to ensure you receive the money you need to get quality treatment and recover.
Experienced San Diego burn injury attorneys can help you explore your legal options for pursuing fair compensation from all sources available to you.
Treatment for Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are caused by a variety of factors such as heat, electricity, chemicals, friction, or radiation and are described in various degrees known as first, second, or third. Burns that affect the outermost layer of the skin are referred to as first degree burns and most associated with sunburns. When damage penetrates into the underlying layers of skin and blisters appear, the burn has now become a second degree burn. Third degree burns affect all layers of the skin and involve deeper tissues such as the muscle, nerves, or bone.
Treatment required depends on the severity of the burn. Superficial, or first degree burns, require little more than pain relievers and aloe. Major burns may require prolonged treatment and care at specialized burn centers. More severe third degree burns usually require surgical treatments such as skin grafting or plastic surgery.
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, you should seek treatment for a burn injury if you experience one or more of the following: fever, pus-like or foul-smelling drainage, excessive swelling, redness of the skin, a blister filled with green or brown fluid, or a burn that does not heal in 10 to 14 days.
Recovery for second and third degree burns is typically slow and painful, and with third degree burns, there is almost always uncorrectable scarring. Pneumonia is a very common complication following a burn injury, and because of the high risk of infection, extreme care must be taken by medical teams with extensive experience in burn treatment in order to increase the chances of survival for a burn victim.
If you or a loved one suffers a significant burn injury, it’s vital to seek medical treatment, preferably at one of the almost 150 specialized burn care centers in the United States which treat over half of all burn injuries. In the State of California, there are currently 11 burn care centers which have been certified through the American Burn Association, including 3 ABA certified facilities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, as well as the UC San Diego Regional Burn Center which has been treating fire and burn victims in San Diego and Imperial counties since 1973. The more experience the medical center has with treating burn injuries, the better chance of survival and healing with minimal scarring.
How a San Diego Burn Injury Lawyer Can Help
After suffering a serious burn injury, your focus should be on your recovery, not fighting for compensation and trying to hold the responsible party accountable. Experienced burn injury lawyers in San Diego can help you determine what damages that you should file a claim for as well as how much your case is worth. Perhaps most importantly, a personal injury attorney can also help you to investigate the cause of the accident, prove fault, and hold the responsible party liable for damages.
The burn injury lawyers at Berman & Riedel, LLP understand just how devastating a burn injury can be and how quickly your life can be turned upside-down. While we cannot guarantee that a settlement will change your life, we can promise to work hard on your behalf to help you recover the money that you deserve. Contact our law office today to discuss your case and how we can help you during a free consultation.