Parker Waichman LLP Aggressively Litigates Claims on Behalf of Burn Injury Victims
Fire and Burn Injury, Death And Devastation. Fire can grow out of control rapidly, and once it reaches that point, it will destroy everything in its path. Fire can level a building in minutes and leave a swath of injuries, death, and devastation in its wake.
Fire causes injuries you might not wish on your worst enemy. The flames and heat scorch, burn or melt everything it encounters without discrimination. The effects fire and heat have on human flesh is horrifying. Skin chars and cartilage can melt leaving a scarred, distorted, and disfigured person as a reminder of the merciless power of fire. To compound problems, smoke inhalation can cause serious injuries and even death if the exposure to smoke is long enough. Smoke chokes off the air supply rendering the victim breathless and can poison a person as well because smoke from a fire is filled with dangerous chemicals that fill a person’s lungs when they try to breathe. The searing hot smoke scars the victim’s lungs as they gasp for air.
Chemical, thermal, and radiation burns can have a similar effect on the skin. Chemical burns from compounds such as acids can permanently disfigure a person. Those substances can melt skin with the slightest touch. It is scary to think of what happens if these useful, yet incredibly dangerous, substances get in a person’s eyes, nose, ears, or mouth. Radiation burns can pierce the skin and penetrate deep into a person’s body and injure bones and organs.
Parker Waichman LLP is Recovering Financial Awards for Burn Injury Victims
It is clear to see why people must take great care when encountering fire, chemicals, and other heat sources and be diligent about fire safety. Still, faulty wiring, failing infrastructure, and carelessly manufactured items that explode or ignite continue to inflict devastating injuries as well as cause the deaths of thousands of people each year. That is why the fire and burn injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are tireless advocates for fire and burn victims. Victims and their families’ lives have been irrevocably altered by the physical and emotional pain of burns and scarring or the tragic loss of a beloved family member to fire or burns. Parker Waichman LLP handles cases from around the country where people have suffered permanent injuries or were killed by fire or chemicals. You can trust the fire and burn attorneys with Parker Waichman LLP to exhaust every option to maximize your financial recovery. While it may not right the wrong you suffered, obtaining a financial settlement could ease the burden which was unfairly and unjustly cast upon you.
Horrific Injuries Caused by Burns
Human flesh melts and scars when it has been exposed to a heat source. This type of burn is known as a thermal burn because the injury is caused by heat so high that the human body cannot tolerate the temperature and begins to break down. Thermal burns occur when skin has been exposed to steam, heated metal, hot liquids, or exposure to another type of heat source in addition to flames.
Many people laugh at the notion that a popular fast food chain lost a court case worth millions of dollars because a woman spilled hot coffee on her at a drive-through window. The result of the lawsuit means that coffee cups now bear the warning “Caution! Contents are hot!” While people might find the whole case ridiculous and a black mark on American society for its apparent love of lawsuits, it is important to remember that someone suffered a thermal burn because of another’s negligence. That individual was seriously hurt and deserved to receive compensation for her pain and suffering.
If you or someone you loved found them in that position, would you not want a dedicated team of legal professionals to fight as hard as they can to help you recover damages?
Parker Waichman’s burn injury lawyers take that sentiment to heart. They know that filing claims against organizations such as large corporate fast food chains might cause them to suffer ridicule. Even still, they are fostering change for increased protection by taking negligent and reckless companies to task in court.
Burns are categorized by their severity on a scale of one to four, with four being the most severe. Everyone is familiar with a first-degree burn. A first-degree burn stings when the heat source touches the skin. The affected spot will grow red and tender, but it is merely superficial, meaning there is no bubbling or blistering of the skin.
Second-degree burns are quite painful. Second-degree burns develop a blister almost immediately after the skin is removed from the heat source that caused the injury. Second-degree burns affect the skin growing deeper than the outermost skin cover. A blister which is improperly treated could result in scarring.
Third-degree burns char or cause a discoloration of the skin. Also, the burn patient might not feel any pain at the burn site because third-degree burns typically penetrate deep into the patient’s skin and damage, if not destroy, the nerve-endings in the affected area.
The highest burn category is fourth-degree. Fourth-degree burns can go as deep as to burn muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bone; such an injury in ghastly and incomprehensible. Body parts can melt together and harden to the extent that they cannot be separated. The fact that someone survives such a serious injury is nothing short of miraculous.
Burn victims must receive treatment in highly specialized burn units. A burn victim is very susceptible to infection because the skin is the first layer of protection against a burn. Therefore, people suffering thermal burns must receive care in hospital settings which can prevent bacteria and fungi from infiltrating the wound. First and second-degree burns rarely require hospitalization for lengthy stays. First-degree burn victims probably do not need to seek medical care unless the burn victim is very young or very old. Second-degree burn victims should seek medical treatment if the blisters are large, cover a large area of the body, or are leaking or oozing coupled with a high degree of pain and redness or changes of color in the skin.
Burn victims must seek medical treatment immediately if:
- The burn appears to be a third-degree burn,
- The victim is presently suffering from another medical condition,
- The person suffers other injuries like broken bones in the incident,
- The burn site is on or near a mucous membrane such as the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears,
- The burn occurs in a highly sensitive area such as the groin, palm of the hands, or bottoms of the feet,
- The burns are chemical or electrical burn injuries,
- The victim suffers smoke or chemical inhalation, and
- Tburns over a large area of the body.
Medical Treatment of Burn Victims is Complicated
Treatment for burn victims requires a multi-faceted approach. According to the National Institute for Health (NIH), the prevailing opinion of physicians involved with burn care takes the position that treatment and recovery require more than just grafting skin from one area of the body and laying it over the wound. Obviously, treatment of the most critical symptoms is necessary so that the victim can survive the incident. The patient will receive treatment in intensive care and acute care settings until there is a high probability of survival. Treatment and recovery do not get any easier.
The goal for caregivers is to start rehabilitation as soon as the person is out of the woods. Patients will receive regular dressing changes which are very painful. The pain will need to be treated with potent painkillers because of the severity of the pain. Many doctors prefer analgesics for pain rather than opioid-based pain medications. However, pain that cannot be calmed with non-narcotic drugs may be treated with more potent drugs. Pain may be tremendous and could last for a very long time after the onset of the injury.
Smoke and heat inhalation causes significant damage to the lungs. Heat sears the sensitive lining and bronchi of the lungs. Additionally, smoke chokes the patient and makes breathing very difficult. Modern burn injury treatment protocols require burn patients to receive frequent, if not constant, breathing assistance. Breathing treatments focus on removing lung excretions and preventing lung disease like pneumonia from infecting the lungs.
As excruciatingly painful as it might be, burned limbs should be moved as soon as possible after the injury. Physicians reporting to the NIH suggest that physical therapy and movement of the burned limbs should begin the day of admission to the hospital or the following day. Doctors advocate for beginning movement very soon after the injury occurred to help facilitate recovery because experience has shown that overall recovery is optimized by starting therapy immediately if possible. By contrast, when patients wait until they feel “up to it” before they start physical therapy, the patients are less likely to make a full recovery. Every treatment “window” should be used to help move the patient along in their recovery. Pain is an issue. However, making sure burn victims attend every possible training session is essential. Therefore, doctors will prescribe pain medication to help the patient make it through an arduous physical therapy session.
A significant function of movement and physical therapy is designed to keep swelling down. Increased swelling slows or even prevents recovery. Great care should be taken to reduce swelling. That means some physical therapy treatments should be geared toward swelling reduction with rhythmically pumping motions. Patients should also wear clothing designed to reduce swelling. Additionally, limbs will need to be raised so that swelling can leave the extremities and excreted from the body.
There are instances which require physicians to immobilize a limb. Immobilization commonly occurs when there is a bone break or other orthopedic injury in the burned area. Skin grafts might need to be immobilized after surgery as well. Doctors recommend that if the body part must be immobilized that the limb should be placed in a way to prevent deformities from occurring, which is a significant threat to the patient after suffering a terrible burn, and for as little time as medically possible to promote healing. That may not always be the case.
Splinting to avoid deformity is called an anti-contracture measure. Scar tissue will grow and quickly cover the affected area. Scar tissue is hard, tight, and lacks flexibility. Therefore, the hardened skin becomes difficult to move. Once full contracture sets in, the patient might never regain full range of motion. Complications arise because patients might feel more comfortable in a state of contracture after suffering the injury. Muscles, joints, and even skin are more readily rested in a flexed state. The patient must fight through the urge to keep their limbs bent and continued to work on regaining or maintaining a full range of motion.
Scarring treatment and prevention also begins as soon as the patient arrives at the hospital. Not only are scars unsightly, but they also play a significant role in contracture. Wearing compression garments and receiving appropriate treatment, including plastic surgery, can reduce or eliminate scarring as long as the physicians treating the patient started wound care and scar reduction protocols as soon as practicable upon arrival at the healthcare facility.
Healthcare providers should encourage their burn patients to try to regain a normal life. This might not be at all easy, but that does not mean it should be avoided. The task is a tall one but the emphasis and focuses on recovering independence helps with healing. Patients might need to relearn or adjust to specific activities they once took for granted. The sooner this happens, the better off they will be.
Psychological Trauma Suffered by a Burn Victim.
The emotional and psychological treatment goes hand-in-hand with physical recovery and well-being. Burn patients face nearly insurmountable psychological impediments to a full recovery depending on their situation. Depending on circumstances, some people might need to learn how to live with a disfigurement, a loss of a limb, or discolored body. The psychological trauma could be compounded by the circumstances that lead to the injury like a house fire, work-related injury, or a car accident.
Many burn victims do not experience the emotional toll a burn injury takes until the hospital discharged the patient to his or her home. That is when the victim starts to feel like they are losing control. Rehabilitation can be very long, painful, and arduous. The victim might not be able to work again, play with their children, or even feel like they can go out in public without feeling like their distorted features render them repulsive to the rest of the world. Psychological trauma from burns can cause a patient to suffer:
- Loss and
- Longing for their former life while despising the life forced upon them.
Damages Available for Burn Victims
If you or your loved one suffered burns because of the negligence or recklessness of another, you or your loved one could be qualified to recover substantial financial compensation. A plaintiff may recover damages for another’s negligent conduct, reckless conduct, or intentional conduct.
To recover damages from another for injuries under a theory of negligence, the injured party must prove that the other:
- Failed to act in circumstances which required action as a reasonable person should have in the same or similar circumstances,
- They suffered injuries from the failure to act, and
- The failure to act caused the injuries.
The amount of compensation depends on the facts of your case. Generally, the law in most states permits recovery for two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages, as will be explained, are losses that can be calculated loss medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages pertain to the pain and suffering of the injured victim.
A plaintiff may recover medical expenses for treatment and recovery. Those costs include expenditures for an ambulance, emergency room, doctors’ visits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, medication, and medical device costs. Future medical expenses form a significant component of medical damages. The victim might require long-term rehabilitation or permanent healthcare due to a disability. These are damages for which the victim can receive compensation.
Economic damages include lost wages. The person or entity responsible for your injuries must compensate you for the time you missed from work as well as lost economic opportunities you might have had in the future but missed due to your burns. Economic opportunities can include the money you lose because you cannot work as well as those opportunities that come about for gainfully employed individuals such as raises or promotions. Although wages refers to salary or hourly employees typically, those who are self-employed or are compensated on a commission-basis can receive a financial award for those lost opportunities as well.
Non-economic damages are not as easy to calculate when determining economic damages. Non-economic damages try to compensate the person for their pain and suffering. It requires judges or juries to put a dollar figure on what you or your loved one went through because of another’s negligence. Non-economic damages also include compensation for mental anguish and diminished quality of life.
A common non-economic damage for which a burn victim may seek compensation is scarring or disfigurement. Valuation of a scar in terms of damages is difficult. The total amount of damages you could receive for scarring depends on how old you are, whether you are male or female, your profession, and a host of other factors. For example, the scars left by the burns the face of a young model or worth more than the scars on the upper arm of a factory worker. Seems harsh, but that tends to be the reality.
But, scarring and disfigurement can be painful, especially if the scar forms over a joint. The rough scar tissue is difficult to move and regaining the same range of motion is nearly impossible. Notwithstanding a burn victim’s gender, being marked by unsightly scars is emotionally traumatic because we are all judged by our appearance in one way or another. Every person can experience a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. Such emotional suffering can dimish the quality of a person’s life and lose the enjoyment in their lives which everyone is entitled to experience.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Burn Cases?
Each state has a different statutory scheme for statute of limitations. Each state is different. Many states have a three-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury action. While some other states are limited to two years. The timing could depend on the nature of the incident too. For example, some states require car accident cases to be filed in court within two years of the date of the incident. Whatever the length of the statute of limitation, you can rest assured that Parker Waichman’s burn injury attorneys will make certain they will handle your claim within the statute of limitations period.
Parker Waichman’s Awards and Accolades
Our lawyers are dedicated to superior advocacy, and we are proud to have received honors from the legal community and beyond, including:
- A Near perfect 9.8 rating on AVVO.
- A Martindale-Hubbell® “Preeminent Lawyers” AV peer review rating.
- Lawdragon’s Highest Ranking of “5 Dragons”.
- A listing in Best Lawyers Publication.
Call for Your Free Case Review with One of Our Burn Injury Attorneys
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