Parker Waichman LLP – Florida Fire and Burn Injury Lawyers
Fire and burn injuries carry numerous consequences that are life-altering for many victims. Not only do fire and burn injuries cause physical and emotional pain and suffering, and disfigurement in some cases, but such injuries also make it difficult for victims to get back to work and live the same life they lived before being injured. While fire and burn injuries may not prevent a person from doing the same activities he or she did before being injured, the permanent scars and disfigurement can be a daily reminder of the injury, making the situation very difficult emotionally.
Hundreds of thousands of people are treated in emergency rooms each year for fire and burn injuries sustained in the United States. Burn injuries have many causes, with the most common being fire, high-temperature steam, exposure to certain chemicals, radiation and electricity. Some burns are minor and require minimal treatment while others are severe and life-threatening, requiring expensive treatment in hospitals and burn units. Burns can happen in the workplace, as a result of a car accident, or because of any other accident that causes a fire to erupt. Depending on the specific facts of a person’s situation, fires and burns may be caused by negligent conduct, and to find out whether someone is to blame for causing a person’s burn injuries, it is a wise decision to consult with a Florida Fire and Burn Injury Attorney.
Parker Waichman LLP – Obtaining More than $2 Billion in Compensation for Injured Clients
At Parker Waichman LLP, our team of Florida Fire and Burn Injury Attorneys are nationally-recognized for providing superior legal representation to clients, helping them recover compensation for suffering injuries through no fault of their own. Our law firm’s successful representation of clients has helped them recover more than $2 billion collectively in settlements and verdicts at trial for their clients. Because of our legal team’s ability to help so many clients, we have been recognized with positive peer-reviewed ratings, including the following:
- AVVO Rating of 9.8/10;
- AV Peer-Reviewed “Preeminent Lawyers” rating;
- Listed in Peer-Reviewed “Best Lawyers”; and
- Ranking of “5 Dragons” according to Lawdragon’s peer review.
While our law firm is honored to receive positive peer-reviewed ratings, we believe it is important for every potential client to speak with our legal team directly to find out how we have been able to assist so many clients across Florida and throughout the United States.
Florida Fire and Burn Injuries – Florida Fire and Burn Injury Lawsuits and Settlements
Understanding the Different Types of Fire and Burn Injuries
Many people have experienced some burn in their lifetime, whether from touching a hot surface or getting a severe sunburn. However, most people do not experience the type of burns that leave permanent scars and disfigurement. More often than not, individuals who sustain severe burns are injured from fire, steam, hot surfaces, and scorching liquids. Burns sustained because of steam, hot surfaces, liquids, and electricity often occur in the workplace, especially when a person’s job involves using equipment that can cause a fire and burns.
To understand the catastrophic nature of burn injuries, it is first important to understand the different types and degrees of burn injuries as set forth below:
- First-Degree Burns – These burns are the most minor and typically do not lead to permanent damage. A sunburn is considered a first-degree burn, and only affects the outer layer of the skin, which is called the epidermis. The skin becomes red and may peel as it heals. There could be minimal pain associated with the burn, and this often subsides over a short period.
- Second-Degree Burns – These burns involve both the epidermis and the dermis, which is deeper in the skin (the second layer). In addition to pain, redness, and peeling, second-degree burns may involve the development of fluid-filled blisters. Depending on the severity of the second-degree burn, a skin graft may be necessary. Some individuals may experience scarring while others may heal without the development of scars.
- Third-Degree Burns – These burns are considered severe, as the burn reaches through all layers of the skin. While some individuals will certainly experience some pain, third-degree burns often damage nerve-endings, so pain may not be a symptom immediately following such a severe burn. Instead of being red or pink, the skin may appear yellow, black or brown, as the skin has been scorched. Third-degree burns are likely to leave scars that could fade over time but are typically noticeable to the naked eye.
- Fourth-Degree Burns – These burns are the most severe of all and can be life-threatening. Not only are all layers of the skin damaged, but tendons, bones, and muscles may be damaged as well, not to mention the extensive scarring and disfigurement a victim may experience.
Treatment in specialized burn units is crucial for individuals in need of skin grafts, pain relief, and other treatments to help reduce the chance of permanent scarring. Additionally, regardless of how burns are sustained (fire, chemical exposure, radiation, electricity, and steam, among others), the consequential damage can be equally painful and debilitating. Some individuals may find themselves in burn units for days, weeks or even months to recover from injuries that may leave a mark forever. Burn injuries to the face and other parts of the body that are exposed can be more emotionally painful than burn injuries in areas that are rarely seen, but regardless of the location of a burn injury, the suffering can be a daily struggle for any burn injury victim.
Also, every person’s body is different, so a second-degree burn for one person may cause more pain and damage than the same type of burn injury would for another person. Therefore, it is important to remember that two cases that seem similar are never exactly alike and one case cannot be used as an example of how another case will turn out. Even if two individuals have the same or similar burn injuries, one person may have severe scarring, and the other one may have no scarring at all. As such, every burn injury case must be evaluated based on its own facts and circumstances, and not compared with another person’s situation.
Filing a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida for Fire and Burn Injuries
Speaking with a qualified attorney is the first step to filing a lawsuit for burn injuries in Florida. It takes the skill and knowledge of a Florida Fire and Burns Injury Attorney to represent an injured person’s rights and interests adequately, or the rights and interests of a deceased loved one who suffered fatal injuries. Before a lawsuit can be filed, an attorney will determine if there is clear evidence that negligent or intentional conduct was the cause of a person’s injuries. Such evidence should demonstrate the following elements:
- The person or party alleged to be at fault owed a duty of care to the injured victim;
- The person or party alleged to be at fault breached the duty of care to the injured victim;
- The person or party’s alleged negligence or intentional conduct caused the victim to suffer burn injuries; and
- The victim’s burn injuries resulted in damage, whether in the form of physical and mental pain and suffering and/or in the form of medical expenses or lost wages.
Fire and burn lawsuits may involve multiple parties, especially if a fire erupts in an apartment building, a grocery store, or if a burn injury is sustained in the workplace. As such, blame may be shared among more than one person. Regardless of whether a fire is considered to be an accident, if a person’s negligence was the root cause of the accident, that person can be held liable for any resulting injuries.
The Statute of Limitations for Fire and Burn Lawsuits in Florida
Many people believe that filing a lawsuit is easy, and while it may be “easy” to file a complaint in court, it is not always easy to keep a case in court, especially if the time limit for filing the lawsuit has expired. In Florida, as in all states, there are laws called “statutes of limitations” that place restrictions on how much time a person has to bring a lawsuit. These laws are extremely important when evaluating a potential personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit relating to fire and burn injuries. As such, any person considering legal action for suffering burn injuries should be aware of the following time limits in Florida:
- Personal Injury – A person wishing to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida for burn injuries has four years from the date of the accident that caused the burn injuries, or four years from the date a person became aware that the burn injuries were related to an accident, to file a lawsuit. However, with burn injuries, it is usually obvious that a specific accident or incident caused the injuries, so the date of the accident would likely be the trigger date to set the statute of limitations.
- Wrongful Death – If a person wishes to pursue a case on behalf of a deceased loved one, he or she must file the lawsuit no later than two years after the loved one passed away. There are very few exclusions to this rule, so once this two-year mark has expired, it is usually too late to pursue legal action on behalf of a deceased loved one.
- Minors – The standard rules apply to minors except in situations where a minor suffers injuries very early on in life. If a child sustains burn injuries at the age of two or three, for example, a lawsuit must be filed by the child’s eighth birthday. However, if a child suffers burn injuries at age eight or nine, for example, the standard four-year rule will apply. The rules for minors can be confusing, so it is advisable to discuss the matter with an attorney.
Missing a statute of limitation can prevent an injured person from every recovering compensation for his or her suffering. Therefore, it is crucial to act swiftly to speak with an attorney as soon as a person becomes aware that his or her burn injuries may have been caused by another party’s negligent or intentional conduct.
The Litigation Process and What to Expect When Filing a Fire and Burn Injury Lawsuit in Florida
Any personal injury lawsuit has the potential to take a long time to resolve, whether a case is settled or goes to trial. The legal process of pursuing a lawsuit can be stressful, however, when a person has suffered severe and permanent burn injuries, the result of obtaining compensation for pain and suffering (both physical and emotional), medical bills, and lost income is well worth it. While it is not possible to reverse the permanent consequences of many burn injuries, compensation is the best option available for helping an injured person overcome a tragic experience. Anyone interested in pursuing a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one should expect the following process when contacting an attorney:
- Free Case Evaluation – An attorney will gather initial case information about a potential client’s injuries and what may have caused the injuries.
- Decision to Pursue the Case – After further evaluation, an attorney will decide whether to pursue a case on behalf of an injured client. If an attorney declines to take a case, the client will receive a thorough explanation as to why the case has been declined.
- The Lawsuit – Once an attorney agrees to take a case, the lawsuit will be filed against the alleged negligent part(ies). In some injury cases, a matter may be resolved through settlement before filing the case in court.
- Discovery – Once a lawsuit is filed, the case will go through the “discovery” process which involves exchanging information about each side’s case (such as medical records, witness statements, and accident reports), taking depositions of fact witnesses and expert witnesses, and providing expert reports that support each side’s case.
- Mediation and Settlement Negotiations – A significant number of cases are settled before going to trial, and negotiations are often ongoing throughout the litigation. The settlement may happen through mediation, or it could happen shortly before a case goes to trial.
- Trial – If a case has not settled by the time it goes to trial, the case will be heard before a jury that decides whether an injured plaintiff is entitled to compensation. It is not unusual for a trial to start and for the case to settle before going to the jury. Also, it is usually one year or longer from the time a case is filed to the time a trial begins, especially because the Florida court system is booked for multiple trials week after week.
- Appeal – If a case proceeds to trial, the losing party will typically appeal the decision on one or more grounds. Filing an appeal and going through the appeals process can take a very long time, which is why many injured individuals choose to settle claims before they go to trial.
Because many burn injury cases are settled before they go to trial, the initial phases of a lawsuit are crucial to develop key facts and prove that a person’s burn injuries were caused by another party’s negligence or intentional conduct. Additionally, the early fact-finding stage of discovery can help to support the value of a plaintiff’s claims. As such, it is always important to act quickly after suffering burn injuries if another person or party may be to blame for causing the fire or accident that resulted in burn injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Florida Fire and Burn Injury Lawsuits
How do I prove that someone else is responsible for causing my burn injuries?
Before you can prove someone else is responsible for causing your burn injuries, you must first speak with a qualified burn injury attorney experienced in handling serious fire and burn injury cases. An attorney will evaluate all of the available information, and if there is evidence that another person or party (such as a building owner, which could be a person or a company) played a role in causing the burn accident that resulted in your burn injuries, you may be entitled to compensation. There must be a link between the accident and the resulting injuries to prove that someone else was to blame.
How much compensation am I likely to recover because of my burn injuries?
Compensation for injuries is measured based on the severity of the burn injuries and the extent of medical treatment associated with the burn injuries. For example, a person who sustains third-degree burns and incurred six-figure medical bills or more is likely to receive more compensation in a lawsuit or settlement than a person who has sustained first or second-degree burns and made a full recovery. If scarring is permanent, the damage is considered to be worse, justifying a higher award in compensation.
Is it possible for more than one person to be responsible for my burn injuries?
Yes. When dealing with burn injuries, there is a good chance that more than one party may be held responsible for causing the fire or accident that resulted in burn injuries. If a person sustains burn injuries in a house fire, the owner of the home may be the only party held responsible. However, because a significant number of fires and other burn-related accidents happen in multi-home residences, businesses, and in the workplace where multiple parties are present, more than one person or party could be held liable for causing a person’s injuries.
Can my family members receive compensation for my burn injuries?
It depends. If a person’s burn injuries prevent that person from being able to work or provide support to a spouse and children (or any other family members dependent upon the injured person), family members may be entitled to compensation. Additionally, if a spousal relationship is harmed because of burn injuries, the non-injured spouse may be able to file what is called a “loss of consortium” claim which is often filed when a marital relationship is significantly affected by one spouse’s severe injuries.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has received a burn injury as a result of an accident or incident, and you believe someone else may be at fault, it may be time to consider how a Florida Fire and Burn Injury Attorney may be able to help you. At Parker Waichman LLP, our attorneys have a thorough understanding of just how severe and debilitating burn injuries can be, and our firm has helped many clients receive compensation for their pain and suffering. Our attorneys represent clients from all across Florida as well as throughout the United States. To schedule your free consultation to discuss legal options with one of our Florida Fire and Burn Injury Attorneys, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by calling (800) YOUR-LAWYER (968-7529). Our legal team is staffed with individuals fluent in Spanish to help our Spanish-speaking clients have a good understanding of their legal rights.
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