If you suffered a burn injury in an incident caused by someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
The North Carolina personal injury lawyers from Johnson & Groninger PLLC are available to provide you the best possible representation for your claim. Continue reading to learn more about burn injuries. If you have any questions or are ready to speak with an attorney about your case, call us at (704) 200-2009.
Types of burns
A multitude of incidents may cause burn injuries, including car crashes, fires, or chemical exposure. There are also different types of burns, as we’ll explore below.
Exposure to acids and alkalis can lead to significant burn injuries. Chemical burns can happen in lab accidents, from exposure to something as simple as battery acid, and even in car crashes. Chemical burns are very common in the manufacturing and construction industries.
Electrical burn injuries happen when the body makes direct or indirect contact with a “hot” or live electrical current. Electrical burns are especially dangerous as they can cause surface charing which can hide substantial internal damage below.
Thermal burns include all burns caused by external heat sources such as house fires and scalding liquids. Direct contact with a source of extreme heat causes the temperature of the skin and tissues to rise, resulting in tissue death and skin charring.
Radiation burns result from the body being exposed to high levels of radiation, which can include microwaves and other sources that are often found in manufacturing and construction.
Degrees of burns
Burn injuries are categorized in “degrees.” The degree of the burn is based on how deep the burn has caused damage. Sometimes the signs and symptoms of a severe burn can take a few days to develop.
That’s why it’s essential to seek prompt medical care after a burn injury, in order to accurately identify the extent of the damage and get the right treatment.
A first-degree burn damages only the epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin. This type of burn causes redness and pain, but will generally go away on its own. A common example of a first-degree burn is a sunburn.
A second-degree burn causes damage to both the epidermis and the dermis, the second layer of skin. Second-degree burns can result in red, white, or splotchy skin, swelling, blisters, and extreme pain. Some second-degree burns may require skin grafts and can lead to permanent scarring.
Third-degree burns are especially threatening to your health as they extend through the first and second layers of skin and impact the fat and other tissues below the skin. Skin damaged by a third-degree may appear black, brown, or white, and can look leathery.
Third-degree burns may destroy nerves, causing numbness. Third-degree burns are severe and should be treated immediately by a medical professional.
Potential damages for a burn injury
Damages are meant to make the injured party “whole” and to put them in a financial position that is as close as possible to where they would be if the accident never happened. These damages will cover the costs associated with the burn injury including medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages.
Being made “whole” also means getting compensation for losses that don’t automatically have a monetary value attached to them. Those losses include pain and suffering, loss of activities, loss of quality of life, scarring, and permanent injury, for example.
Medical bills and related expenses
Burn injuries can lead to significant medical costs both immediately after the incident and into the future. They sometimes require multiple surgeries and skin grafts and rehabilitation.
These injuries often result in permanent scarring and mobility impairment, both of which can impact a patient’s quality of life. Damages will cover the costs you’ve already incurred and those that are expected to occur throughout your life.
Lost wages and loss of earning potential
Burn injuries can require lengthy recovery periods and can cause partial or permanent disability, all which might limit your ability to work in the same capacity or might cause you to miss work or stop working altogether. You’re entitled to the value of any lost wages and work benefits like accrued sick and vacation time while you were out of work recovering from your injury.
If your burn injury changes your ability to work in the long-term, you could also be entitled to any loss or decrease of your earning potential. These damages require more work to prove than medical costs, but an experienced attorney can help you receive what you deserve.
If your property was damaged as a result of the accident or incident, you are entitled to the fair market value of any property or belongings lost. For example, if you were in an accident caused by a negligent person and your car caught fire, you are entitled to the fair market value of your car to assist you in replacing it.
Pain and suffering
You also are entitled to damages for the pain and suffering, and even emotional distress, you’ve suffered as a result of your burn injury. This can include psychological conditions that arise following the accident such as post-traumatic stress, sleeplessness, fear, or anxiety.
Punitive damages are different from the above types of damages which are all considered “compensatory damages.” Punitive damages aren’t based on or calculated by the loss suffered by the victim, instead they’re intended to punish the at-fault party to serve as a deterrent to them and to other persons who might repeat the action(s) which caused your injury.
Punitive damages are only available in certain circumstances that are set out in North Carolina’s punitive damages statute.
Why hire a lawyer after being burned?
When your burn injury was caused by someone or something else, you’ll need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company to collect your damages, and sometimes this requires a lawsuit. You’ll also need to collect necessary evidence and seek appropriate medical care, including follow up care, to prove your injuries and the amount of damages you’re requesting.
It sometimes requires meticulous work to identify the appropriate insurance company (or companies) you need to contact and where or how to file your claim. Patients may also find it difficult to find the best places to receive the care you need and to know what evidence you should collect.
Our team of Charlotte personal injury lawyers are highly experienced in pursuing the correct insurance companies and presenting all the evidence to ensure that our clients collect the damages that they deserve.
Best burn treatment centers in North Carolina
There are two burn treatment centers in North Carolina where you can receive top-notch care for your burn injury:
- UNC Jaycee Burn Center which also has a specialty clinic for pediatric burn care because pediatric burns are some of the most common injuries experienced among children. Most commonly, younger children suffer from scald burns, whereas older children are more likely to experience contact burns.
- Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist is slightly smaller than UNC, but the treatment and care they provide is no less excellent, including burn-dedicated ICU and acute care units, hydrotherapy areas, and long-term individual units.
Burn injury complications
Because burn injuries can be very severe and might require ongoing treatment, and can lead to life-long disabilities, they can have a multitude of complications.
The body’s ability to self-regulate is impacted by a burn injury because the tissue and capillaries are affected by the heat. This can result in loss of vital fluids, including plasma, can lead to low blood volume, magnifying the severity of the overall injury and its impact on health.
Given that burn injuries are open wounds that can expose tissues, organs, and bone to the world, bacterial infections are common and can prevent the wound from healing or might require additional surgeries.
Because the body is in shock and has a lesser ability to self-regulate, burns can lead to hypothermia.
Fires, steam burns, smoke inhalation, and inhaling chemicals can cause varying types of lung damage.
Bone or joint problems
Third-degree burns can descend into the bones and joints, leading to permanent issues with movement, resulting in disability.
Second-degree and deeper burns can lead to scarring, even if they don’t require surgeries r skin grafts.
The scarring that results from a burn injury can be disfiguring. Injuries that result in disfigurement can impact quality of life and also require ongoing physical therapy and mental/psychological care to address the implications of the injury. These negative changes to life are recoverable in damages.
How an attorney from Johnson & Groninger PLLC can help
Working with an experienced burn injury attorney to collect evidence, draft your claim, and negotiate a settlement or take the insurance company to court is the best way for you to get the best possible outcome from such an awful situation.
The experienced NC personal injury attorneys at Johnson & Groninger PLLC will investigate your claim to discover all potentially liable parties and the full extent of your damages. If you suffered a burn injury caused by someone or something else, don’t wait to contact us because you have limited time to file your claim.
Call us at (704) 200-2009 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.