New York Burn Injury Lawyer
Legally Reviewed By: Jud Waltman
Severe burn injuries can occur in seconds, but they cause a lifetime of pain, disfigurement and emotional distress. According to the American Burn Association, more than 400,000 burn injuries are treated every year in the United States.
Ongoing medical treatment and skin grafts have the potential to improve quality of life, but access is often out of reach due to cost. When catastrophic burn injuries are the result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve substantial compensation and access to the best treatment available.
The New York burn injury lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm are dedicated to the cause of those who are wrongfully injured. While compensation cannot reverse injuries, it can drastically improve treatment outcomes and help you experience a fulfilling life.
How much compensation can I receive for my injuries?
Compensation in personal injury cases depends on how you received your injuries, where the incident occurred and who is liable. You may be unable to recover damages if your injury occurred at home because of an accident you caused. However, if you rent and faulty electrical wiring or excessive water heater settings caused your injuries, you may be able to recover damages.
Burn injuries require long-term care and may result in permanent disability. Compensation could be substantial. The following factors influence the amount of compensation you could receive:
- Fault. New York state law allows you to recover damages as long as at least a portion of the fault can be attributed to someone else’s negligence. Compensation will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
- Source of injury. How and where you sustained your injuries determines the source of compensation.
- If your injuries occurred as a result of a car accident, your compensation will most likely come from an insurance company or, in some cases, a manufacturer of a defective product.
- If your injury occurred in the workplace, your compensation may come from workers’ compensation.
- If your injury occurred at home, your landlord may be liable.
New York law allows personal injury victims to claim up to three types of damages:
- Economic damages. These damages cover monetary losses such as medical bills, property damage and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages. These damages cover non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, disfigurement and mental anguish.
- Punitive damages. These damages are only awarded in special cases where you can prove your injuries were caused because of fraud, malice or recklessness.
If your compensation comes from workers’ compensation, non-economic damages and punitive damages are not available. You will receive payment for medical expenses and two-thirds of your wages up to a maximum. You cannot sue your employer if you are eligible for workers’ compensation. However, you can seek additional compensation from other third parties such as manufacturers of defective equipment and premises owners.
How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit for my burn injuries?
What if my loved one died from serious burn injuries?
If your family member has died because of another party’s negligence, your family’s personal representative can file a wrongful death claim. You may be able to recover economic, non-economic and punitive damages.
If the injury occurred at work, workers’ compensation provides survivor benefits to eligible family members.
How are burns classified?
The four types of burn injuries are classified by depth or degrees of burns.
First-degree burns are superficial burns that only impact the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. They cause pain and redness, but usually no long-term damage.
Second-degree burns, or partial-thickness burns, affect the epidermis and part of the lower layer of the skin, the dermis. They cause pain, redness, blistering and swelling.
Third-degree burns, or full-thickness burns, destroy the epidermis and dermis and sometimes impact the innermost layer of skin, the subcutaneous tissue. They are characterized by blackened, charred skin.
Fourth-degree burns impact all skin layers and penetrate muscle and bone. Pain may not be present due to nerve damage.
Potential Complications from Burn Injuries
While most first- and second-degree burns heal without complications, third- and fourth-degree burns are life-threatening during the acute stage. The following complications may arise:
- Infections, including sepsis
- Heart rhythm disturbances from electrical burns
- Low blood pressure
- Complications from smoke inhalation
The healing process tends to be prolonged when compared to other traumatic injuries. Burn injury victims are left with permanent disfiguring scars that cause psychosocial disorders including low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Catastrophic burn injuries impact multiple body systems long-term:
- Excessive metabolism causes muscle and bone density loss.
- Scar tissue hardens and requires repeated surgeries and causes chronic pain.
- Risks of chronic health conditions increase:
- Nervous system disorders
- All types of cancer
- Immune system suppression
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
Who is most at risk for burn injuries?
The majority of burn injuries occur inside the home. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
Children are at heightened risk of burn injuries because of their inability to recognize and escape unsafe situations. The most common burn injuries in children are scalds from hot water or steam. Thermal burns from fire and chemical burns from household chemicals are also common. The most dangerous room for a child is the kitchen.
Children are more likely to experience severe burns because their skin is thin and delicate.
What are the most common causes of burns?
Burns in the home most often occur as the result of exposure to fire or scalding water. Outside the home, thermal burns are also common, but electrical, chemical and radiation burns occur in the workplace and in auto accidents.
Thousands of older adults are burned every year in their homes. This is especially prevalent in New York City, where elderly adults are more than three times as likely as elders residing elsewhere in the state to be hospitalized with burn injuries. Thermal burns and scalds are the most common. Aging causes changes that increase the risk of burn injuries:
- Reduced mobility
- Memory lapses
- Loss of sensation and eyesight
- Dizziness and shakiness from medications
OSHA statistics show that more than 5,000 occupational burn injuries from fires and explosions occur yearly. Some studies show up to 45 percent of burn injuries occur in the workplace, with the highest burn rates occurring in food service establishments, manufacturing facilities and construction sites.
Scalding Hot Water
Scalding burns occur from contact with steam and hot liquids above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water with a temperature of 140 degrees can cause second-degree burns in three seconds and third-degree burns in five seconds. Coffee is often served at temperatures of 175 degrees.
Despite the known dangers of scalding water, as many as 41 percent of urban inspected homes were found with dangerous water heater settings. This was especially prevalent in rental properties. Landlords are required to provide safe conditions. If your hot water is too hot, you have the right to ask your landlord to adjust it.
Do I really need a personal injury lawyer to help me with my burn injury case?
Legal representation can ensure you have access to the highest quality care as well as funds to provide for your daily needs for as long as you are disabled or in recovery. Your quality of life in the future correlates strongly to the quality of care you receive.
At The Lanier Law Firm, our goal is to restore your independence and quality of life as much as possible. Our experienced attorneys can provide a free case review, anticipate your future medical costs and calculate how much compensation will be necessary to restore your life.
We have achieved verdicts and settlements in the millions and billions on behalf of our clients and won many prestigious recognitions and awards for our high-caliber representation and success. We are successful because we care.
Not only do we offer a free consultation, but we charge fees only after we have won your case. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation.
NYC Burn Injury Resources
Immediate medical attention results in the best outcomes. New York City is home to the following burn and trauma centers: