Burns are some of the most serious injuries that we see here at VanDerGinst Law.
After a burn, patients might lose a limb or need skin grafts before they can begin to heal.
Burns permanently disfigure skin, causing people to have “melted” appearance. The emotional scars are just as devastating as the physical ones and can cause years of disruption in our clients’ lives
If you have been burned in an accident, you might be entitled to compensation, but you need to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Burns
Our lawyers have seen all kinds of burns, including:
- Burns. You can suffer a thermal burn when you touch a hot surface or object, such as a flame, fire, steam, or heated appliances.
- Electrical burns. An electrical current can burn the body, including internal organs. The internal burns might be more serious than any external burn on the skin, so immediate medical attention is vital.
- Chemical burns. Acids and other corrosive chemicals can burn the skin on contact. You might be burned by bleach, chlorine, ammonia, sulfur, or battery acid.
- Friction burns. The body can burn when it rubs repeatedly against a hard surface. For example, someone who falls off a motorcycle and skids along the road can suffer burns on exposed skin.
If you have been burned, you should receive immediate medical help. Cleaning off chemicals can limit the damage to the body. With other burns, you will need to immediately cool the burned body part.
Doctors generally classify burns by degree, with more serious burns damaging tissue deeper in the body. Doctors generally use three or four classifications:
- First-degree burn. This is a surface burn that damages the outermost layer of skin, the epidermis. First-degree burns usually can be treated by soaking the affected body part in cool water and then covering with a sterile bandage.
- Second-degree burn. This burn damages both layers of skin, the dermis and epidermis. Second-degree burns can blister, which you should not pop. Cool the burn and cover with a bandage. Also watch for signs of infection.
- Third-degree burn. These burns damage tissue beneath the skin layers, including nerves, muscle, and other soft tissues. The burn might appear blackened or white.
Not every burn requires a trip to the hospital, but you should go if the burn is larger than a couple square inches or if the burn is very deep. A doctor can assess the burn and clean it, making sure that it doesn’t become infected. If the burn is very serious, you could be admitted immediately into the intensive care unit.
When treating a minor burn at home, remember not to use butter or oil to cool the burn. Water is sufficient. Creams and oils can lock in the heat and actually lead to more tissue damage. If your burn becomes painful or has puss leaking out of it, get to the hospital.
Burns and Legal Liability
To sue for a burn, you need to prove that an individual or entity (like a company) was responsible for the burn. As part of our practice, we have helped burn victims in the following situations:
- A car accident victim is burned when a car catches on fire or when splashed with battery acid or other fluids. The person who caused the accident is liable.
- A motorcyclist skids along the road, suffering road rash. The person who caused the motorcycle accident is liable.
- A consumer is burned when a defective product injures him. The product could leak battery fluid, catch on fire, or electrocute the consumer.
With a product liability case, the key is to prove the product was defective. If it isn’t, you usually can’t receive compensation. For example, you might have burned yourself with matches but there was nothing wrong with the matches. In this case, you might not be able to blame anyone, since the matches worked as expected.
Burns and Emotional Distress
Serious burns can lead to limb amputation and permanent disfigurement. However, burns also cause considerable psychological distress. Many burn victims report intense depression and anxiety, which can be crippling.
Psychological distress can center around the following:
- Limitations in movement
- Disfigurement, especially on visible portions of the body
- Fear about the future
- Physical discomfort, such as pain or itching
- Loss of independence
- Impairment of sexual intimacy
- Worry about death
- Financial fears, especially if the burn prevents the person from working
This psychological distress can also begin to cause negative health effects and cause stress for family members.
Burn victims often need mental health counseling and prescription drugs to manage sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and fear. Family members and other caregivers can quickly become burnt out and could benefit from group therapy or meeting other family members of burn victims.
Compensation after a Burn Injury
If someone else is to blame for your burn, then you might be able to receive compensation. For example, you could have been burned in a car accident or by a defective product. Our clients have received compensation for a range of losses, including:
- Medical care to treat the burn, including skin grafts, hospital stays, doctor visits, rehabilitation, prescription drugs, and mental health counseling.
- Lost wages, when you cannot work because of your burn.
- Pain and suffering, for the physical limitations imposed by the burn.
- Emotional distress, for the negative emotions discussed above.
- Loss of consortium, for changes to your marriage caused by the burn injury.
All of our cases are different, and it is hard to calculate in the abstract how much you might receive. Instead, meet with a burn injury attorney to go over your individual case. Many of our clients receive considerable compensation after a devastating burn.
Contact One of Our Burn Injury Attorneys for More Information
Bad burn injuries upend many of our client’s lives. If you or someone you love has suffered a burn, then you might be entitled to compensation in a lawsuit or an insurance settlement. VanDerGinst Law has the experience necessary to bring a successful claim.
The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.