New York Burn Injury Lawyer
Burn injuries are among the more common types of injuries that occur across the nation. Victims may sustain burn injuries in a range of incidents from getting scalded at home or in the shower to suffering them in a structural fire or due to a chemical spill at a construction site. When discussing such injuries, the term “burn” refers to conditions experienced by victims that are more severe than the mere burning sensation. Burn injuries are usually characterized by severe skin damage that causes the affected skin cells to die.
While some people may recover from burn injuries without experiencing serious health consequences depending on the cause and the extent of the injury, most burn injury victims, however, require immediate medical care to prevent severe health complications or even death. If you or a loved one has suffered burn injuries due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person or entity, it is important that you contact an experienced New York burn injury lawyer to explore your legal rights and options. You may be able to seek and obtain valuable compensation needed for treatment, surgery and other expenses.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
According the American Burn Association (ABA), 2,745 people died from residential fires and 310 from vehicle crash fires in 2015. One civilian fire death occurs every two hours and 41 minutes. The odds of a U.S. resident dying from exposure to fire, flames or smoke is one in 1,442. During the same time 486,000 victims sought medical treatment for burn injuries. About 40,000 people were hospitalized for burns including 30,000 in specialty burn centers.
Building fires: These are among the most common causes of burn injuries in New York City. The taller the building the greater the risk of fatalities during fires, as it becomes more challenging for firefighters to rescue victims. When a building catches fire, many occupants get trapped between burning stairways and windows forcing them to jump and become seriously injured. Spending an extended time inside a burning building also causes smoke inhalation injuries, which may prove fatal.
Gas explosions: Explosions caused by gas leaks have claimed a number of lives over the years in New York City. UCSD’s Regional Burn Center reports that a majority of adults were burned in their homes as a result of propane or natural gas explosions. These catastrophic incidents may occur as the result of a faulty line, due to the negligence of a utility company and/or because of a defective product or appliance.
Hot liquids and scalding: Children are at a much higher risk for hot liquid burns because a child’s skin is much thinner than adult skin. Liquid burns, which may barely harm an adult, can injure a child’s skin deeply and at lower temperatures, even from only a few seconds of exposure. The elderly are more vulnerable to hot liquid and scalding burns as well due to sensitive skin and slower reaction times. In addition to hot water, hot drinks and oils can also cause scalding burns.
Burns caused by electrical accidents: There are more than 400 electrocutions each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and an estimated 180 electrocutions are related to consumer products. Wiring hazards such as damaged or exposed commercial and household wiring together accounted for 20 percent of electrocutions. Ladders coming in contact with power lines, power tools and other equipment can also lead to electrical accidents that result in severe burns to the victims. Burn injuries caused by electrical accidents may lead to nerve and tissue damage as well.
Home appliances: A number of fires and burn injuries are caused by home appliances from defective heaters to coffee makers. In such cases, the manufacturers of the defective products can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused.
Car fires: Motor vehicle fires kill at least 500 people and injure thousands more each year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One of out every five fires involves an automobile. One out of eight fire deaths results from car fires. Car fires tend to occur because of a collision, a defective part or vehicle malfunction.
Water heater fires: Water heaters these days are equipped with sensors that detect burning vapors unlike older models. However, there are dangers of newer-model water heaters catching fire as a result of lint, dust and oil collections. Water heaters must not only be updated but be properly maintained by being kept clear of dust and lint. If you live in an apartment or rental property, your building manager and/or building owner are responsible for maintaining the water heater. Defective or poorly maintained water heaters can cause severe burn injuries.
Workplace accidents: Workplace fires and explosions result in hundreds of fatalities and burn injuries each year. Some common causes of work-related fires include chemical hazards, spontaneous combustion of chemicals or rags and weak fuel pipes. Burn injuries suffered on the job especially in a construction or factory setting can prove devastating for workers and their families.
Seriousness of Burn Injuries
The severity of a burn injury depends on the extent of damage to the skin, muscles, tissues, bones and other internal organs. Burn injuries are divided into four categories depending on their severity.
First-Degree Burns: These are the burn injuries that cause minimal skin damage. They are superficial burns because they affect the outermost layer of the skin. Common symptoms include redness, minor inflammation and pain. Since this type of burn injury only affects the top layer of the skin, the signs and symptoms disappear once the skin cells shed. First-degree burns usually heal within seven to 10 days or more. First-degree burns are usually treated with home care and the healing time is quicker here relative to the other categories.
Second-Degree Burns: These burn injuries are more serious because the damage extends beyond the top layer of the skin. The skin blisters and becomes red and sore. Some blisters may even pop open giving the burn a wet appearance. Some second-degree burns take longer than three weeks to heal, but most will heal within two to three weeks or more. In some severe cases, skin grafting may be needed to fix the damage.
Third-Degree Burns: These are extremely severe burn injuries. This is when the damage extends through every layer of the skin. The skin may appear white or waxy, charred or leathery. These wounds can cause severe scars.
Fourth-Degree Burns: These injuries damage the skin, underlying tissue, nerve endings and may reach all the way to fat, muscle or even to the bone. These burn injuries look black or charred and dry. There is no healing with this type of burn. In most cases amputation is required and often, patients die.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
In burn injury cases, liability often depends on who or what caused the injuries. For example, if a property owner and/or property manager fails to install smoke alarms or sprinklers in an apartment complex or rental property, or if the alarms or sprinklers are not working, then the owner and/or manager can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused. New York law requires all property owners and/or property managers to install and maintain these safety systems to protect their tenants and visitors.
Property owners and/or property managers can also be held liable for scalding burn injuries that occur due to hot pipes or faulty water heaters. In cases where a defective product such as a space heater caused or contributed to the fire accident, the manufacturer of that faulty product can be held liable. In incidents where gas explosions causes burn injuries, negligent utility companies can be held financially responsible for the victims’ injuries, damages and losses. One of our clients recovered $2,500,000 for burns from a space heater.
What is Your Burn Injury Claim Worth?
If you have suffered severe burn injuries, you may be wondering what your claim might be worth. The value of your claim will depend on the seriousness of the injuries and the extent of losses you have sustained. You need to take into consideration the types of physical, financial and emotional damages you may have suffered. In a personal injury case, monetary damages are paid to the injured person or the plaintiff by the party that is found legally responsible or liable for the incident. Your case may go to a jury trial or like a majority of personal injury cases, get settled out of court.
Here are some of the types of losses and damages that often determine the value or worth of a personal injury claim:
Medical expenses: A victim who has suffered burn injuries is likely in need of intensive treatment and rehabilitative care. Often, burn injury victims require skin graft surgery where skin is taken from one part of the patient’s body and grafted on to the portion that has been damaged by the burn. These are considered cosmetic procedures (as opposed to life-saving) and are often not covered by insurance. Medical expenses will also include medication, medical equipment and rehabilitation. Often, plaintiffs will be awarded damages for cost of future treatment as well. This is particularly true in cases where patients have suffered permanent injuries or disabilities.
- Lost wages: You can seek and obtain compensation for workdays lost. If your injuries have proved disabling, you may seek compensation for lost wages and loss of earning capacity, or in other words, income you might have earned in the future, but cannot because of your injuries and disabilities.
- Past and future pain and suffering: You can seek compensation for the physical pain and suffering you have had to endure during the incident and in its aftermath. Burn injuries can be particularly painful and the recovery process can be extremely slow and costly.
- Emotional distress: In addition to the significant physical pain, there is also a significant amount of stress and psychological effects because the victims have suffered a traumatic event. Patients may suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Loss of life’s enjoyment: When injuries caused by a fire or any accident keep victims from enjoying their everyday pursuits and hobbies, they may be entitled to “loss of enjoyment” damages.
- Loss of consortium: This refers to the impact the injuries have on the plaintiff’s relationship with his or her spouse or partner. The loss of companionship or the ability to have a sexual relationship can cause significant issues for couples.
Getting Results in Burn Injury Cases
The Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm has had significant success representing burn injury victims. Here are a few settlements we have helped secure for our seriously injured clients:
$2,500,000: Burn Injury from defective space heater.
$2,250,000: Toddler burned by hot water in a bathtub.
$1,170,000: Settlement of burn injury case.
$985,000: Settlement in a fire accident case where injuries were sustained because the homeowner did not have smoke detectors installed in an apartment.
$850,000: Settlement for a child who suffered serious burn injuries on his leg due to medical negligence.
$850,000: Slip-and-fall burn at workplace.
$750,000: Hot water burn injuries suffered by a 3-year-old child when he was burned by hot water from the sink.
$670,000: Settlement in a case where a 13-year-old girl was burned with hot water when being cared for at an institution.
Contacting an Experienced New York Burn Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered burn injuries or if you have lost a loved one in a fire, the experienced New York Burn Injury Lawyer at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com
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