Burns are among the most painful and traumatic injuries that one can suffer. The injury’s physical, financial, and emotional costs will take a toll on the victim and their family. What can make the situation worse is that someone else is often to blame for the accident due to carelessness or legal violations.
While the Phoenix burn injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., cannot restore your physical health, we will work for you to recover financial compensation from the person or company to blame for your injuries. We can gather the evidence necessary to prove their responsibility and effectively negotiate your settlement check. If we need to take your case to court, we will tell your story to the jury.
Our legal team does what it takes to obtain maximum settlements for our injured clients. For example, we obtained a $1,125,000 settlement at mediation on behalf of a driver who sustained significant burn injuries while making a delivery on the job. We proved that the defendants deviated from standard safety procedures and, therefore, were liable for the harm that resulted. Further, our office previously helped this client obtain a workers’ compensation settlement for more than $200,000 plus disability pay related to this same accident.
We bring all of our experience and resources to the table for every case, and we can advise you whether you have a burn injury claim at no cost to you. Reach out today for more information.
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Burn injuries can happen at a moment’s notice. Often, all it takes is bad luck or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. You might suffer a scald from a hot drink from one of the many coffee shops around Phoenix, suffer an electrical burn near one of the many development construction sites around the city, or get into a truck crash on I-17 that ends in a fire. Regardless of how your injury happened, if someone else was to blame for your injuries, they must pay for your damages.
Here are some common causes of burn injuries:
- Car accidents – Depending on where the collision happened, the gas tank or engine can ignite, injuring drivers and their passengers when they cannot escape the car in time. You will need to establish fault for the injury. Some cases may be against the car manufacturer, while others can be against the driver who caused the accident.
- Chemical burns – These happen when people contact dangerous and corrosive substances. Chemical burns can happen in motor vehicle accidents or premises liability cases. These are substances that people should never touch or contact and should always be out of reach.
- Electrocutions – People can suffer electrical injuries when they contact a power source. This can happen with an appliance in their own home or outside power lines. A property owner can leave electrical wires exposed. Electrocution can cause severe burns.
- Apartment or house fires – Tenants can suffer injuries in a fire that started elsewhere in the building, either because of improper maintenance or another homeowner’s carelessness. Residents who live in townhomes or row houses can sustain injuries and suffer property damages when a fire starts in an adjoining home.
- Scalding – These injuries happen due to water or steam. All it takes is two to three seconds of burning water in contact with the skin to cause severe injuries.
As technology evolves and new products come to market, we see injured clients with different burn injuries.
Burn injuries are about much more than damage to the skin. Of course, they will require immediate and long-term treatment for the victim to recover as much as possible.
In the short term, burn injury victims may need the following care:
- Initial stabilization – the hours after a burn injury are the most critical because that is when the victim’s life can be the most endangered. The immediate risk is that the victim can suffer from organ failure or shock. After that, the highest risk is that the burn will become infected, and the patient will go into septic shock. Patients can also experience respiratory distress in the aftermath of a burn injury.
- Pain control – Once the initial shock subsides, the burn victim will experience intense pain. Not only will doctors need to manage the physical pain with pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures, but they will also need to manage the patient’s anxiety.
- Infection control – Burn victims will experience immunological dysfunction. Combined with a burn that can reach deep below the skin, this presents a high risk for infection. Patients may need intensive antibiotics or antimicrobial therapy.
Burn injuries can result in a lengthy hospital stay. Often, patients need treatment at specialized burn centers. One study estimated that two days in the hospital are necessary for every one percent of the body covered with burns.
Once the patient stabilizes, doctors may think about their long-term prognosis and measures to help begin the healing process. Depending on the severity of the burn, patients may need surgical procedures. Doctors can perform plastic surgery to improve the appearance of the skin and flexibility. They may also perform multiple skin grafts to replace the burned area.
Abels & Annes, P.C. Gets Results
The legal test used is the same in any burn injury case, no matter how it happened (except for some product liability cases). As the plaintiff, you must prove that the defendant was negligent.
You see this same four-part test in any personal injury case:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff the duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care by doing something (or not doing something) that a reasonable person would not have done.
- You suffered an injury.
- The defendant was the proximate cause of your injuries.
Proving negligence will usually require an extensive investigation into the cause of the burn or fire.
Even burns that do not seem so significant can require expensive treatments. In 2014, the average cost of a burn-related hospital stay was $24,000. Given the accelerated pace of inflation, that cost has escalated significantly since then. Third-degree burns will require even longer and more costly hospital stays.
For many burns, the immediate treatment represents only a fraction of the overall lifetime cost of the injury. Burn victims will need extensive follow-up care for their injuries. The most common procedure for long-term treatment of serious burns is a skin graft.
Depending on the severity of the burn, a patient may need multiple skin grafts. This procedure involves harvesting the skin from another area of the body and using it to replace burned skin. A skin graft is expensive plastic surgery. The average cost of this procedure can reach $30,000. In addition, burn victims may require extensive rehabilitation. In the meantime, they will suffer from pain, discomfort, and emotional distress from their injuries.
Damages That You Can Receive for a Burn Injury
Medical costs are just a fraction of the total costs associated with a severe burn injury. These are among the more painful injuries possible. The accident victim can be in excruciating pain for years. Therefore, the non-economic costs of burn injuries can be high.
Here are several elements of non-economic costs that can lead to even more substantial compensation for an accident victim:
- Pain and suffering – including the anxiety and depression that an accident victim deals with. This is in addition to the physical pain.
- Disfigurement and scarring – accidents victims can receive compensation for permanent injuries that will not heal
- Embarrassment from the effects of the injury
- Emotional distress – the actual injury itself may have caused trauma because the accident victim is fully conscious and aware that the injury is happening
People often ask us what the average burn injury settlement is. It is a question that is difficult to answer on its own. Your situation may be different from other victims. The defendant in one case may have the greater ability to pay greater damages than the one in another case. One accident victim may have settled their case earlier, possibly leaving money on the table.
Legally, you deserve full payment for your damages, whatever they are. In practically every burn injury case, you deal with an insurance company that does not want to pay the money you deserve. To them, you are just a claim number that they want to clear off the books for as little as possible, so they can move on to underpaying the next claimant.
Why Burn Settlements and Awards Can Be High
Many people fail to understand the severity of burn injuries. Even a one-time accident of spilling scalding hot coffee in your lap can leave you with critical injuries. Take, for example, the 1992 case of a woman who was awarded $3 million for spilling burning hot McDonald’s coffee in her lap. Some people used that case to criticize what they called an out-of-control personal injury system.
What really happened?
- The plaintiff suffered second and third-degree burns on 16 percent of her body
- She went into shock from her burn injuries
- She was in the hospital for over one week
- She underwent numerous skin grafts
- The plaintiff suffered permanent scarring and disfigurement
- McDonald’s offered a paltry settlement for serious injuries that resulted from something that they purposefully did
While much of the verdict was punitive damages, you can see how even what an insurance company may characterize as a less serious injury can alter a person’s life. Any burn injury can cause significant damage. Never underestimate a burn.
An insurance company often stands between you and the financial compensation that you legally deserve. If they make you a settlement offer, it is usually far too low to fully compensate you at first. It is a time-honored process that you need to negotiate your claim with the insurance company. Therefore, you need an attorney who can see the big picture instead of just the short-term check the insurer puts in front of you.
Your attorney will advise you when you need to reject a settlement offer and counter with a demand of your own. If the insurance company denies your claim or refuses to fairly compensate you, the option of a lawsuit is on the table. In some cases, insurance companies can try to be penny wise and pound foolish, and we are there to hold them accountable with their policyholders who caused your injuries.
Burn injuries are among the most agonizing. Your stress should not be about the legal process. Let Abels & Annes, P.C., handle the details and stand up to the defendant and their insurance company on your behalf.
Call Abels & Annes, P.C., today at (602) 819-5191 or contact us online to set up a time to discuss your case, so you can begin the process of working towards financial compensation. You have every incentive to make this call soon because it can take a considerable amount of time for your case to unfold.
714 E Rose Ln
Phoenix, AZ 85014
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