Burn injuries are some of the most serious injuries a person can sustain.
Even relatively minor scalds can be extremely painful and result in significant scarring and other damages. The more severe types of burns, however, may require hospitalization and extensive surgery.
When a burn injury is caused by the negligence of a person or business, the injured person may have a legal claim for compensation. Navigating the legal process is difficult without the counsel of an experienced attorney.
By working with a Michigan burn injury lawyer, you will have help needed to pursue your claim so you can focus on your recovery.
Common Types of Burn Injuries
Naturally, the most common source of a burn is from direct exposure to flames. This might occur in a house fire or when someone is trapped inside a car following a crash. However, there are numerous causes of burns, including:
- Scalding liquid burns from hot drink spills or faulty hot water heaters
- Friction burns from sliding along pavement after a bicycle or motorcycle accident
- Chemical burns from household cleaners and other substances
- Defective exploding products like pressure cookers and e-cigarettes
- Steam burns, including from manhole covers
- Work injuries
- Heat burns from tools or direct contact with hot surfaces
- Surgical fires in an operating room
- Radiation burns resulting from medical malpractice
The pie chart below shows the distribution of causes of burns. According to the graph, approximately three of every four burn injuries are a result of fires or scaldings.
Thermal burns are the most common type of burns, according to the Cleveland Clinic. These burns occur when flames, hot metals, scalding liquids, or steam come in contact with the skin. These burns can result from many different circumstances including house fires, vehicle accidents, kitchen accidents, and electrical malfunctions.
Many of these burn injuries result from careless behavior and reckless conduct, and can oftentimes be prevented. Many times, a person suffers a burn injury because a business refused to provide needed safety measures to protect a victim from harm.
The pie chart shows the percentage share of the top 10 most preventable deaths in the United States in 2017. Hazardous fires and burns accounted for nearly 23% of all preventable deaths.
Classifications of Burns
Burns are classified into different levels of severity.
First-degree (superficial) burns. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. They are painful and may still leave scars, but generally require no or minimal medical treatment. They are often treated with over the counter creams.
Second-degree (partial thickness) burns. Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the lower layer of skin. The burn site looks red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful. They may result in nerve damage and, as a result, may require skin grafts.
Third-degree (full thickness) burns. Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. They may go into the innermost layer of skin, the subcutaneous tissue. Third-degree burns are the most catastrophic and debilitating. These may require total removal of the affected tissue and might never fully heal. Many of these burns require multiple surgeries, skin grafts, and even hyperbaric chamber treatment. They can result in permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Fourth-degree burns. Fourth-degree burns go through both layers of the skin and underlying tissue as well as deeper tissue, possibly involving muscle and bone. There is no feeling in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.
Burns occur mainly in the home and workplace. Children and women are usually burned in domestic kitchens, from upset receptacles containing hot liquids or flames, or from cookstove explosions.
The pie chart below shows the distribution of places of occurrence from burn victims. Nearly 75% of all burn injuries occur at home with the next most popular location being at the victims occupation.
Filing a Lawsuit for a Michigan Burn Injury
Cases stemming from burn injuries are similar to other personal injury cases. Burns can be caused accidentally or intentionally.
For a burn injury lawsuit, you must prove that a person or other entity was negligent in their conduct. This could be by acting in a certain way or failing to act in a certain way. For example, a nurse’s aid who spills a pot of hot coffee on a patient’s lap would be negligent. And, a company that sells an exploding product would be negligent for burns suffered by a consumer.
To win a case, it must be proven that the defendant was negligent and that it caused a burn injury.
Liability can be based on a dangerous condition, the lack of safety precautions, and even the failure to supervise a child or elderly person. Most burn injuries are completely preventable when due caution is exercised.
How Much are Burn Injury Settlements?
Burn injury settlements are often substantial. This is because the pain and suffering associated with burns is significant and lasts a long time.
Additionally, many burns result in permanent scars, deformities, and disfigurements. These disfigurements cause embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional trauma for the victim. As a result, compensation payouts are very high.
The burn injury victim can also sue for all medical expenses related to the burn treatment.
Settlements can include money to pay for future treatment, scar revisions, and plastic surgery. Other damages include payment of lost wages and income.
The Time Limit to File a Burn Injury Claim in Michigan
One element of any case that a potential claimant must be aware of is the statute of limitations.
According to Michigan Compiled Laws §600.5805, most plaintiffs in injury claims have three years from the date of suffering a burn to pursue a case. Minor children have until their 19th birthday to file a lawsuit, even if there injury occurred much earlier in life.
However, for cases involving medical negligence by a doctor or medical provider, there is only a two year statute of limitations.
There are other time requirements for medical malpractice lawsuits so it is important to contact an experienced attorney immediately.
Get a Michigan Burn Injury Attorney for Help
Burn injuries are serious matters that may result in severe pain and disfigurement. If the negligence of another party caused your injuries, you have the right to compensation and should speak with a burn injury lawyer today.
We charge no fees unless you win a settlement and it costs you nothing to get started on your case.
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