Choose Skilled Burn Injury Lawyers to Fight for Your Legal Rights
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. It can also cause injuries you might not wish on your worst enemy. The effects fire and heat have on human flesh are horrifying; skin chars, and cartilage can melt, leaving a scarred, distorted, and disfigured person as a reminder of the merciless power of fire. And smoke inhalation can cause serious injuries or even death if the exposure to smoke is long enough. Smoke chokes off the air supply, rendering the victim breathless, and it can poison a person as well, since smoke is filled with dangerous chemicals.
Chemical, thermal, and radiation burns can have similar effects on the skin. Chemical burns from compounds such as acids can permanently disfigure a person; some substances can melt skin with the slightest touch. And radiation burns can pierce the skin and penetrate deep into a person’s body and injure bones and organs.
No matter what type of burn you have endured, if you have been forced to cope with this type of injury through no fault of your own, the experienced attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are here to help. We’ll fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve to ease your recovery.
Get Help From Tireless Advocates for Burn Injury Victims
It’s 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. If this has happened to you, a good burn injury lawyer is imperative. The fire and burn injury attorneys at Parker Waichman are tireless advocates for fire and burn victims. We know that your life can be irrevocably altered by the physical and emotional pain of burns and scarring or the tragic loss of a beloved family member to fire or a burn injury. Our law firm handles cases around the country, fighting for people who have suffered permanent injuries or were killed by fire or chemicals. You can trust your Parker Waichman LLP burn and fire injury attorney to exhaust every option to maximize your financial recovery. While it may not right the wrong you suffered, obtaining a financial settlement can ease the burden that 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 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 herself 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, the full story is that the coffee was purposefully made very, very hot; so hot that someone suffered a thermal burn because of the negligent act. That individual was seriously hurt and deserved to receive compensation for her pain and suffering.
If you or someone you loved was in that position, would you not want a dedicated team of legal professionals to fight as hard as they can to recover damages?
Parker Waichman’s burn injury lawyers take that sentiment to heart. They know that filing a burn injury lawsuit against an organization such as a large fast-food chain might cause them to suffer ridicule, but they know that the truth will foster change 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 heat source is removed. Second-degree burns affect the skin, growing deeper than the outermost skin layer. A blister that is improperly treated could result in scarring.
Third-degree burns char or cause a discoloration of the skin. The patient might not feel any pain at the burn site because third-degree burns typically penetrate deep into the patient’s skin and damage or destroy the nerve endings in the affected area.
The highest burn category is a fourth-degree burn. Fourth-degree burns can go as deep as to burn muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bone. Body parts can melt together and harden to the extent that they cannot be separated. If someone survives such a serious injury, it’s 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 that can prevent bacteria and fungi from infiltrating the wound. First- and second-degree burns rarely require hospitalization or 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 already 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 or ears
- The burn occurs in a highly sensitive area such as the groin, palms of the hands or bottoms of the feet
- The burns are chemical or electrical burn injuries
- The victim suffers smoke or chemical inhalation
- The burns cover a large area of the body
Complexities of Medical Treatment for Burn Victims
Treatment for burn victims requires a multifaceted approach. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the prevailing opinion of physicians involved with burn care is that treatment and recovery require more than just grafting skin from another area of the body. 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.
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, requiring potent painkillers. Many doctors prefer to avoid using opioid pain medications, but pain that cannot be calmed with non-narcotic drugs may be treated with more potent ones. Pain may be tremendous and can last for a very long time after the onset of the injury.
Smoke and heat inhalation cause significant damage to the lungs. Heat sears the sensitive lining and bronchi of the lungs. 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 diseases like pneumonia.
As excruciatingly painful as it might be, burned limbs should be moved as soon as possible after the injury. When patients wait until they feel up to it before they start physical therapy, they are less likely to make a full recovery. Doctors may prescribe pain medication to help the patient make it through an arduous physical therapy session.
A significant function of movement and physical therapy is keeping swelling down, as increased swelling slows or even prevents recovery. Patients should also wear clothing designed to reduce swelling. Additionally, limbs will need to be elevated to reduce swelling in the extremities.
In some cases, doctors may need to immobilize a burned limb because of a broken bone or orthopedic injury. Skin grafts might need to be immobilized after surgery as well. Doctors recommend that if a body part must be immobilized, the limb should be placed in a way to prevent deformities from occurring and kept still for as little time as medically possible to promote healing.
Splinting to avoid deformity is called an anti-contracture measure. Scar tissue will grow and quickly cover the affected area, and this 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 a full range of motion. Muscles, joints, and even skin are more readily rested in a flexed state, but a burn patient must fight the urge to keep their limbs bent and work on regaining or maintaining a full range of motion. Wearing compression garments and receiving appropriate treatment, including plastic surgery, can also help to reduce or eliminate scarring.
Psychological Trauma Suffered by Burn Victims
Emotional and psychological recovery goes hand-in-hand with physical recovery and well-being. Burn patients can face severe psychological impediments to a full recovery; depending on the circumstances, some people might need to learn how to live with a disfigurement, a loss of a limb or a discolored body. The psychological trauma could be compounded by the circumstances that led to the injury, like a house fire, work-related injury or car accident.
Many burn victims don’t experience the full emotional toll that a burn injury takes until the hospital discharges them. 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:
- Longing for their former life while despising the life forced upon them
Compensation 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 for your personal injury. Burn settlements allow a plaintiff to recover damages for another’s negligent conduct, reckless conduct or intentional conduct.
To recover damages for injuries under the legal guidelines for negligence, the injured party must prove:
- The other party failed to act in circumstances that required action in the way a reasonable person would have in the same or similar circumstances.
- They suffered injuries.
- The failure to act caused the injuries.
The amount of compensation depends on the facts of your case. The law in most states permits recovery for two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are losses that can be easily calculated, like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages pertain to the pain and suffering of the injured victim.
A burn injury lawyer can help a plaintiff recover medical expenses for treatment and recovery, including expenditures for an ambulance call, emergency room treatment, doctor visits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, medication, and medical devices. Future medical expenses can form a significant component of medical damages. The victim might require long-term rehabilitation or permanent care due to a disability. These are damages for which the victim can receive compensation.
Economic damages also 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, such as raises or promotions.
Non-economic damages are not as easy to calculate, as they require 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, scars left by burns on the face of a young model are worth more than scars on the upper arm of a factory worker. Scarring and disfigurement can also cause physical pain, especially if the scar forms over a joint. And anyone with scarring can experience a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence that diminishes their quality of life.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Burn Cases?
Each state has a different statute of limitations. Many states have a three-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury action, but in some states, you’re limited to two years or less. The timing could depend on the nature of the incident as well as the nature of your injuries. 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 limitations, you can rest assured that a Parker Waichman burn injury attorney will make certain to handle your claim in a timely manner.
Our lawyers are dedicated to superior advocacy, and we have secured more than $2 billion in compensation for our clients. We are also proud to have received honors from the legal community and beyond, including:
- A near-perfect 9.8 rating from AVVO
- A Martindale-Hubbell peer review rating of “AV Preeminent”
- Lawdragon’s highest ranking of “5 Dragons”
- A listing in Best Lawyers
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With One of Our Burn Injury Attorneys
Contact Parker Waichman today for a free case evaluation to find out what we can do for you. Just call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our client contact form for a free consultation with a burn injury attorney who can answer your questions and help you determine your legal rights. With our help, you can get the compensation you deserve.
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