Burn injuries are among the most common injuries Americans face. Burns frequently lead to scarring, disfigurement, loss of sensation and feeling, and numerous other injuries. In many instances, burn injuries are avoidable. Florida residents who suffer burns due to the negligent or careless actions of someone else might be entitled to significant compensation to cover medical bills, lost time at work, and pain and suffering. Determining whether you have a case isn’t always straight-forward. That’s why the team at AJK Legal is here here to help you make sure that you get the care and compensation you’ll need when an accident leaves you with burns.
Types of Burns
There are four types of burns injuries that are common. Each type of burn is characterized by the severity of the injury. Understanding the severity of a burn is essential in understanding how to proceed with your claim.
- First Degree Burns: First degree burns are mild and are typically seen as reddening of the skin with some localized pain, but are not severe enough to warrant medical intervention. A sunburn is a good example of first degree burns. It is common for welders to suffer first-degree burns from the light emitted by the welding machine. First degree burns typically heal on their own without causing long-term damage.
- Second Degree Burns: A second degree burn will cause skin damage to the outermost layer of skin as well as the dermis, the second layer of skin. Second degree burns typically result in swelling, blistering, and can leave scars. These burns are frequently associated with accidents involving boiling water, sparks or open flame, and contact with hot metal. A second degree burn may require medical attention and can lead to complications like infection or long-term nerve damage.
- Third Degree Burns: A third degree burn damages or destroys both outer layers of skin and causes destruction of nerve endings. These burns may appear charred or blackened, but can also involve swelling, blistering, and other damage. This is a serious injury that will likely require medical attention and could possibly demand skin grafts and other medical procedures to ensure health. Third degree burns can be the result of direct contact with very hot metal, liquid, or other heat sources. Chemicals can cause third degree burns.
- Fourth Degree Burns: A fourth degree burn will require hospitalization and specialized care. These injuries completely destroy flesh, muscle, and can even burn bones. Fourth degree burns may take years to recover from and can require hundreds of medical procedures and the need for life-long treatment. Direct exposure to intense flame, chemicals, and other accidents can cause these severe injuries.
- Fifth degree and Higher: Burns rated higher than fourth degree are almost always fatal. These injuries destroy bone, muscle, and flesh. An individual who survives a fifth degree or higher burn will live in constant pain and have significant, life-altering injuries that may affect their circulation, breathing, and digestive systems while also leading to a wide range of mental health concerns.
How Burns Happen
Most burns are the result of contact with hot surfaces, like placing your hand on a hot burner right after turning it off. Burns caused by fire and hot materials are treated differently than other types of burns largely due to the need to prevent infections from trapped materials. We will sometimes see burn injuries resulting from illegal or inappropriate use of fireworks, work-related injuries, and car or motorcycle accidents. Many of these injuries result in claims due to the cause of the accident.
Chemicals are frequently responsible for causing burn injuries in occupational and industrial applications. Lots of chemicals used in common work environments can cause severe burns that lead to long-term health problems. Chemicals like those used to clean swimming pools can cause burns to the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. Manufacturing and industrial occupations often deal with toxic chemicals that have the potential to cause a variety of burns, including some of the most significant injuries.
Electrical burns are another common source of injuries. Electrical burns can happen due to exposed wiring, improper or defective equipment, and other accidents. Electrical burns can also carry the risk of shock which may lead to heart attacks, strokes, loss of consciousness, and other dangerous situations.
Radiation burns are caused by UV-rays, X-rays, and similar light-energy sources. Patients undergoing cancer treatment may experience burns from radiation. In some cases, improper training or incorrect treatment procedures can cause unnecessary burns to patients.
Understanding the Cost of Treating Burns
One of the primary reasons you’ll consider filing a personal injury claim after suffering a burn is to compensate you for the cost of medical treatment. Burns are often expensive to treat and can require years of therapy, numerous surgeries, and may require specialized medical equipment that can be prohibitively expensive to many Floridians. Understanding the costs of treating burns can help you to make the decision to retain a lawyer who specializes in handling burn cases so that you are not stuck with large medical bills from an accident that wasn’t your fault.
- Ambulance Costs: The typical ambulance ride can run between $1,000 and $2,000 dollars. Specialized transport, such as airlift, runs much higher. A life flight trip can cost $40,000 on average. Burn victims often require specialized care that isn’t available everywhere. Transporting burn victims is substantially more difficult than many other life-threatening injuries.
- Emergency Room: You can anticipate paying between $2,000 and $3,000 for an emergency room visit. Emergency rooms are typically equipped only to save your life. Once you are stable for care, you’ll be moved to the ICU.
- Intensive Care Unit: A person staying in an ICU in Florida will pay $2,366 on average per day. Third degree burn victims often must stay in ICU for 12 days on average. That’s an average cost of about $30,000.
- Skin Graft Surgery: Third-degree burn injuries and higher always require skin grafts to repair areas where the skin was permanently destroyed. The average cost of a skin graft is between $18,000 and $28,000. About one-third of grafts fail, leading to an additional expense of $11,000 to more than $100,000.
- Reconstructive Surgery: Many severe burns leave an individual disfigured. Reconstructive “plastic” surgery is frequently necessary to provide the victim with some semblance of normalcy, allow function of the nose, mouth, ears, or eyes, and to prevent additional suffering. The cost of surgery will vary from case-to-case and depends largely on the amount of skin and location that has been damaged.
- Long-term Care: Many victims of severe burns are left with serious scarring that is more than simply cosmetic. Around 40% of burn victims must undergo repeated surgeries to release scar tissue that can prevent movement, hinder breathing, and cause a wide range of other problems.
- Medical Equipment: Long-term care of burn victims regularly requires the use of medical equipment ranging from compression clothing to reduce scarring to respirators and other devices to aid in breathing, circulation of blood, and other bodily functions. Costs can range from a few thousand dollars to more than $50,000 over the course of a lifetime.
Personal Injury Law in Florida Relating to Burns
Like many types of injuries that happen, there are different ways in which the laws of Florida can protect you depending on the nature of the injury. In some cases, several aspects of law will overlap, making your case more complex and difficult to litigate.
- Premises Liability: One of the more frequent causes of serious burn injuries results from improper safety procedures or incorrectly repaired equipment on someone’s property. Premises liability law affects patrons of restaurants, gyms, and other business, as well as guests at hotels, resorts, or on cruise ships. Renters may also be protected under premises liability law when injured while living or visiting rental properties.
Some examples of the types of injuries you may suffer that fall under premises liability law include burns from hot coffee or other liquids spilled by employees, exposed hot water piping that should be covered, leaks from hot water heaters, and unprotected high-heat surfaces. Premises liability may also apply in certain situations involving chemicals like those used to treat swimming pools, fertilizers and other lawn-care products that aren’t properly stored or labeled, or damaged heating and air-conditioning equipment.
- Worker’s Compensation: The largest percentage of burn cases typically fall within worker’s comp law. This law ensures that employees who are injured on the job can receive medical care without risk of being fired, demoted, or otherwise punished. Common work-related burn injuries happen in thousands of occupations ranging from hospitality to nursing to industrial work.
Anytime you suffer an injury while on the job, you are entitled to benefits provided through worker’s compensation, regardless of whether the injury was your own fault. Your employer may not prevent you from seeking medical attention and may not retaliate against you for seeking help.
- Car Accidents: There are numerous ways that car accidents can result in burns, including friction burns from road surfaces, fires, and chemical spills. In many car accident claims in Florida, you may be able to file claims to cover your injuries through car insurance. Often, burn injuries are considered serious and life-altering events, a classification that changes the way laws are applied.
- Defective Products: When a manufacturer sells a product, they are responsible for warning consumers of potential risks, including the risk of fires. Sometimes, products are incorrectly made, leading to an unnecessary risk of burns to consumers. Defective product claims can be made against manufacturers to cover the costs of medical treatment, long-term care, and you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.
Types of Compensation You can Receive
Every accident is unique. There are numerous laws in Florida that work to provide you with protection from the costs of an accident that wasn’t your fault. Depending on the specific circumstances, you might be entitled to one or more forms of compensation for your injuries.
- Medical: In almost all scenarios, burn injuries that were not your fault fall within areas of Florida law that allow you to be compensated for necessary medical procedures.
- Lost Work: Numerous types of burn injury claims will provide you compensation for the time you will miss at work while recovering from your injuries. This is an invaluable benefit, as burn injuries can often prevent individuals from returning to the type of work they previously accomplished.
- Pain and Suffering: Quite a large number of non-work-related burn injuries qualify for pain and suffering compensation. This is money intended to ease the burden of an injury with life-long consequences. There are various different ways that pain and suffering is applied and calculated depending on the specifics of your case.
- Punitive: Punitive damages are those that have the purpose of dissuading particularly negligent offenders from habitually repeating the behavior. Punitive awards are often the ones that make newspaper headlines specifically because the purpose is to prevent these types of easily prevented accidents from happening.
AJK Legal Can Help You With Your Florida Burn Injury Case
Navigating the legal procedures following any accident can be a particularly challenging experience. When you suffer a major injury such as a burn, there are many things you’ll be unable to do or will struggle to accomplish. Acting quickly when you are injured is the best way to ensure you don’t lose benefits and your rights are respected. We understand how traumatic burn injuries are and our burn injury lawyers are ready to work on your behalf to see to it that you get the best quality care available as quickly as possible.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a burn accident, it’s imperative that you contact our office as soon as possible. We provide a free consultation service so that you can share the facts you have about the accident. Our legal team will be able to let you know what the best course of action may be and we will be able to immediately begin the process, even while you or your loved one is hospitalized.
Our burn injury law team understands the nuances of Florida law and we have a proven track record of helping Floridians get the just compensation and benefits they deserve. We only get paid if we win- so you know that our motivation is to get you the best settlement possible.
The lawyers at AJK Legal have helped injured people get their lives back on track after suffering injuries caused by the negligence of others. We won’t rest until we know you have the best outcome available. Even if you are unsure whether you have a valid claim, you should contact our attorneys as soon as possible before the pain you are in today becomes permanent. Let us help your family through this difficult time and we will give you the peace of mind you need to rest and recover.