It is easy to underestimate the devastating effects of a serious burn until you experience one. Beyond the intense pain, burns are one of the leading causes of permanent disfigurement. Burn victims are also more vulnerable to infections and other potentially fatal complications.
If you or a member of your family was severely burned due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other damages. A personal injury lawyer at Englander Peebles can help you to navigate the claims process and fight for just compensation for your serious injuries.
We understand that no amount of compensation can undo the trauma of a catastrophic injury. However, filing a successful claim may allow you to regain your financial footing. Our burn injury lawyers represent clients in Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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Common Causes of Burn Injuries in Florida
Burn injuries can be among some of the most severe and complex injuries that people suffer. This is because they have an impact that far exceeds what is visible on the surface. They often lead to infections, organ failure, and chronic pain.
Unfortunately, burns often result from the negligence of others. Some of the common causes of these injuries are:
Construction Site Accidents
Some people suffer burns due to overheated chemicals or hot metal on construction sites. Likewise, electrical burns are quite common at construction sites.
Car wrecks are also a frequent source of burns, often due to car fires, airbag deployment, or heated fluids leaking from the engine compartment.
House or Apartment Fires
Negligent and careless people sometimes start fires by leaving a cigarette or a candle burning without supervision, or because they fail to clean their chimney. These careless acts can cause innocent victims to suffer burns.
Overly hot food and beverages and hot cooking utensils can also cause burns. Grease fires are a huge problem in kitchens as well.
Types of Burn Injuries
Different types of burns lead to unique complications. The four most common types of burns are:
Direct contact with a hot substance or fire causes this type of burn. People often suffer these burns in house fires, car accidents, or explosions. Burns caused by thermal heat sources tend to result in deformed skin and deep tissue damage. Steam and vapor can also be a source of thermal burn injuries.
Not to be confused with radiation, a radiant energy burn is caused by exposure to certain types of light sources like the sun or ultraviolet (UV) light. While it’s rare for a sunburn to be caused by someone else’s negligence, there are situations where UV light exposure is caused by certain construction implements.
Perhaps one of the most common burn injuries is a chemical burn. These burns can happen for all sorts of reasons. Some people suffer chemical burns from acids or hazardous materials.
Whether at work or due to a hazmat truck spill on the highway, these burns can be very serious. Some chemicals can also have a noxious vapor element that can lead to internal respiratory problems and burns to the throat and lungs.
Finally, those who are unnecessarily and recklessly exposed to radiation may have a right to be compensated. Many people are exposed to radiation without even realizing it due to large corporations failing to properly warn the public of known dangers.
How to Classify Burns
Burns typically come in three degrees or levels:
These minor burns generally involve only the top layer of the dermis (skin). They don’t cause much damage, or least they do not cause permanent damage. Think of your typical minor sunburn with some light redness or warmth to the touch, which goes away after a few days. Usually, a little aloe and cool water will help relieve the pain.
Once a burn gets to second degree, things begin to be more serious. Lower levels of tissue are affected, and a person may notice blistering and exposed underlying tissue. These types of burns can take a longer time to heal, maybe several weeks or months.
Once a burn reaches this level of severity, a high likelihood of permanent disfigurement and deformity of skin exists. Damage is deep and goes beneath the surface to affect bone, muscle, and tendons. It can be quick to develop an infection, and it can lead to hypothermia.
Due to a person losing the ability to regulate temperature, the burn can weaken the immune system. People with third-degree burns often suffer from painful nerve damage and may even require skin grafting, which is a painful and exhausting medical procedure. Third-degree burns may result in death.
Long-Term Effects of Burns
Those who survive a serious burn may suffer for years. Permanent and long-term effects can include:
A survivor will generally be left with a permanent and visible sign of the trauma. This scarring and disfigurement can, in turn, lead to emotional anguish and withdrawal from social activities.
Nerve Pain and Chronic Pain Syndrome
Chronic and never-ending pain is another unfortunate consequence of many severe burns. Often, because the burn damage cannot be repaired, this type of pain must be tolerated for life.
Because muscle tissue and muscle loss can occur, a burn victim may suffer from a general malaise or weakness and fatigue. This weakness can further add to one’s withdrawal from social life.
Muscle Density Loss
Because of the loss of muscle density, a person may notice that the burned sections of an extremity such as a leg or arm actually appear smaller than before.
Increased Risk of Infection
Because our skin plays a huge role in preventing exposure to infections, damaged skin can lead to a higher risk of future infections.
Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all common. For those who have been caught on fire, electrocuted, or suffered a painful chemical burn, the emotional and psychological scars can be worse than the physical ones, leaving the person to suffer from horrible nightmares and anxiety when around triggering events or situations.
Many burn victims must go through years of counseling and psychiatric care to cope with what they have endured.
Recovering Compensation After a Severe Burn Accident
People can seek two general categories of damages in a burn injury case under Florida Law: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages include economic damages such as lost wages and medical bills and non-economic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering.
As you may suspect, proving the value of economic damages is more straightforward. They can be calculated using medical bills, pay stubs, invoices, receipts, and other documentation. Proving the value of non-economic damages can be challenging since they are more subjective in nature.
In burn injury cases, pain and suffering is often the largest component in personal injury awards. The personal injury attorneys at Englander Peebles will consider several factors when calculating your pain and suffering damages, including:
- Your age
- The severity of your injury
- The effect that the injury has had on your life
- Whether the damage is permanent
Punitive damages may be sought in exceptional cases. Those damages are meant to punish and deter wrongful conduct. They do not compensate a victim for his or her losses.
Who May Be Responsible for My Burn Injuries?
It is not always obvious which party or parties may be responsible for burn injuries. The answer to this question really depends on the facts surrounding your injury.
If your burns occurred in a car accident, for instance, the driver who caused the collision may be liable for your damages. The driver’s insurance policy should cover your losses. If the driver has no liability insurance or inadequate insurance, you may need to turn to your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy.
If your burns were caused by a defective product, the liable party could be the designer of the product, the manufacturer, the vendor, or another party involved in the development or distribution of the product. Burns that occur at work may be covered by workers’ compensation.
Get Help From a Fort Lauderdale Burn Injury Lawyer Today
The Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Englander Peebles can investigate your case, identify all potentially liable parties, and help you to pursue the compensation that you need and deserve for your burn injuries. If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic burn injury in Florida, we won’t let an insurance company take advantage of you. Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation through one of our offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or Boca Raton.