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Burn Injury Attorneys
Sacramento, Fairfield and Bay Area
In addition to the physical and emotional trauma of suffering a burn injury, victims are often overwhelmed by the costs of medical treatment. When a victim suffers a burn injury because of another party’s negligence, however, he or she may be entitled to compensation for his or her injury. At York Law Corporation, our burn injury attorneys are lawyers known throughout the North Bay Area, including Sacramento, Fairfield, and surrounding communities, for their dedication to protecting the rights of burn injury victims. If you or a member of your family has suffered a first, second, or third degree burn, contact our firm today to secure the legal counsel you need and deserve.
Types of Burn Injuries
There are three categories of burns: first-, second-, and third-degree. First-degree burns are the least severe; they damage the outer layer of skin and typically heal in a few days. Second-degree burns damage the second layer of skin but do not completely destroy it. Third-degree burns are the most severe; they damage all layers of skin and sometimes the underlying muscle tissue.
Burns are classified in degrees which increase in severity. First-degree burns are the least severe, only affecting the surface of the skin. They usually are red and sensitive to the touch, but involve minimal tissue damage. The symptoms of first degree burns are peeling skin, redness, swelling and pain.
Second-degree burns affect the outer layer, known as the epidermis, and the under lying layer of skin, known as the dermis. It causes redness, swelling, blistering and pain. If the second-degree burn is deep enough and is not properly treated, it can become a third-degree burn due to swelling and decreased blood flow in the tissue.
Third-degree burns are the most severe, affecting the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis (the third layer of skin that lies beneath the epidermis and the dermis). It causes the skin to appear charred and white. The burn areas are usually numb; however, the person will be in a great deal of pain. Unfortunately, third-degree burns typically result in extensive scarring.
Common Causes of Burn Injury
Coming into contact with a thermal, light, chemical, or radiation source can cause a burn injury. Common sources of burns include fires, home and workplace accidents, automobile accidents, gas explosions, exposure to toxic chemicals, and even certain leisure activities. Often, the exposure to the hazard could have been prevented, by those responsible either for creating or designing the product that caused the burn (product liability) or for maintaining safe premises (premises liability). When a burn injury victim is able to prove this lack of prevention, he or she may be able to obtain damages.
Burn injuries result from a number of different causes and can vary in severity. The American Burn Association estimates that 500,000 Americans receive medical treatment annually for burn injuries, and about 4,000 die every year.
The most common causes of burn injuries include the following:
According to the American Burn Association, fires cause nearly half of all burn injuries at 46%.
Fires occur thousands of time a year. Negligence resulting in household fires from smoking, cooking accidents or unsafe use of wood stoves or heaters is among the most common causes of accidental household fires.
Defective products can also increase the risk of fires. Defective products are ones that do not function as they should, creating unreasonably dangerous situations and exposing the consumer to physical harm. Car fires, for instance, may be the result of a poorly designed or manufactured product within the car.
Injuries that occur from gas explosions can be extremely severe. Gas explosions result from a gas leak, such as natural or propane gas, in the presence of an ignition source. It commonly causes post car collision fires.
The American Burn Association reported that electrical burns make up 4% of burn center admissions. They happen when an electrical current passes through the body from an electrical source. The effects range from minor without permanent injury to tissue damage to instantly fatal.
Chemical Burn Injury:
Chemical burns in the United States make up for 3% of all burn center admissions. They can occur as the result of an accident or assault either at home or at work, but most chemical burn accidents occur in the workplace. Chemicals responsible for most serious injuries include acids and strong bases such as alkaloids.
Industrial accidents injure thousands of people a year, both workers and people living near industrial plants alike. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1970 regulates workplace conditions to promote a safe working environment. Among the regulations is a ban on smoking at or in the vicinity of operations which are considered fire hazards.
Welders are also at a higher risk of injury. Injuries are caused by UV radiation, which can burn the eyes and the skin. Flash burns are injuries that occur when one is exposed to bright UV light from welding.
Smoke inhalation can lead to serious medical complications and even death. The number one cause of death related to indoor fires is from smoke inhalation; fifty to eighty percent of fire deaths are a result from smoke inhalation. It occurs when one inhales hot gaseous products of combustion.
Effects Of A Burn Injury
The effects of burns differ depending on the temperature of the heat and the duration of exposure. The severity of the burn, however, depends primarily on how deep the injury is and how much area has been burned. Deeper burns damage more layers of the skin and will require more extensive treatment. They heal more slowly, are extremely painful and can have emotional effects such as depression.
Additionally, burn injuries are expensive to treat. The medical care costs alone for third degree burns can exceed $200,000, often requiring long-term hospital care, doctors’ visits, physical therapy and counseling.
Costs Associated with a Burn Injury
Residential fires are becoming more prevalent in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2007, on average, someone died every 153 minutes from residential fires; every 30 minutes, someone was injured. They also found that fires in residential properties accounted for a whopping $6 billion in property damage. Additionally, fire and burn injuries cost approximately $7.5 billion each year: $3.3 billion in non-hospitalized fire and burn injuries, $3.1 billion in fatal fire and burn injuries, and $1.1 billion in hospitalization costs.
On an individual level, burn injuries are one of the most expensive catastrophic injuries to treat. Even though there is no concrete data on this subject, expensive medical treatment such as skin grafts, lengthy hospital visits and specialized care can easily cause treatment to exceed two hundred thousand dollars. The cost of rehabilitation, which may last the victim’s entire lifetime, also adds to this amount.
Treatment Of Burn Injury
If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury, the first step is to seek immediate medical attention. Burns can result in permanent scarring, debilitating injury or even death. Treatment from a burn injury primarily depends on the severity of the burn. Third-degree burns require extensive medical care and treatment. Call 911 immediately if you suspect that someone has endured third-degree burns.
Filing A Burn Injury Claim
If you or your loved one sustained a burn injury due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to compensation. If you wish to file a burn injury claim, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Contact an experienced attorney you can trust to timely file your claim within the applicable statute of limitations.
- Find an experienced burn injury attorney to handle your case. Wendy York and her team of experienced legal professionals are renowned for their skill in presenting the strongest cases possible on behalf of their clients. Contact York Law Firm to schedule a consultation with one of our burn injury attorneys.
Who is Liable in a Burn Injury Case?
In order to succeed in a burn injury case, you must prove liability by way of negligence, strict liability or intentional wrong.
A party is negligent if she failed to act as a reasonable person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. Examples of negligence resulting in burn injury include house fires due to negligence (cooking, grill fires), motor vehicle accidence (driving recklessly or disobeying traffic signals) or workplace fires.
Strict liability is the theory that a person, company, or manufacturer is liable even though there is no “fault” on their part.
If the wrongdoer intentionally acted to inflict the injury on the plaintiff, such as in cases of assault, she will be found liable.
Legal Considerations in a Burn Injury Case
Statute of Limitations:
As with any lawsuit, burn injury lawsuits must be filed within a certain period of time of the harmful wrongful conduct, a period known as the statute of limitations. Failure to bring suit within this period may bar your ability to bring suit completely. The statute of limitations, however, differs depending on the subject matter of the case. Contact us and one of our attorneys can advise you on the applicable statute of limitations.
Recovering Damages in a Burn Injury Case
The injured plaintiff can recover past and future medical expenses and non-economic damages (also referred to as pain and suffering – the harms, injuries and losses suffered). Punitive damages can also be awarded when the plaintiff can prove that the wrongdoer acted fraudulently, maliciously or recklessly.
Types Of Damages
Compensatory damages are damages meant to “right the wrong.” In other words, they are meant to reimburse/make up for the injuries, harms and losses sustained by the victim.
There are two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include quantifiable amounts such as out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, lost wages or property damage. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, physical injuries/harms, mental anguish and emotional distress. They also include “loss of consortium,” or damages for loss of society, comfort and care of the injured plaintiff.
Damages awarded to the victim in order to punish the wrongdoer for her gross negligence are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded where the conduct was malicious or in reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s rights, displaying an indifference to the rights and safety of others. Punitive damages may also be awarded when the defendant’s conduct is fraudulent or oppressive.
Contact Our Burn Injury Attorneys
York Law Corporation is dedicated to helping burn injury victims obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. If you have a potential case, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with one of our burn injury attorneys. Our lawyers serve Sacramento, Fairfield, and surrounding North Bay Area communities.