Yes, you can recover financial compensation after a burn injury caused by another’s negligence. The law is clear – no one should be liable for damages they did not cause.
Since New York has a no-fault system in place, filing a lawsuit against an at-fault party may be restricted. However, burns often cause life-threatening injuries, disfigurement and scarring and breakdown of organ systems. Because of this, it might be possible to go outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
How Much Compensation Are You Entitled to in a Burn Injury Accident?
The amount of compensation depends on the type and intensity of the burn and the degree of damage that occurs. It is also necessary to factor in scar formation or organ damage.
Burn Injury Statistics
Overall, a burn is the most painful and disabling type of injury an individual can suffer. According to the National Institute of Fire Protection, over one million people are seen in emergency rooms every year nationwide due to burn injuries. Of these, 50,000 will suffer a fatal injury and die.
What Are Burn Injuries?
If a person encounters a chemical, fire, heat, friction, or radiation, it is possible that they will experience damage to their bodily tissues. This can happen in a car collision, a construction site accident or due to a defective product. There are different levels of damage or burn injury. The proportion of the body surface that is burned also has a big effect on the severity of the burn injury.
How Do You Classify the Severity of the Burn?
Doctors use a rating system that classifies burns from first degree to fourth degree, with the latter being the worst.
- First-degree burns: This type of burn affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. A burn will cause the area to redden, but it will heal quickly. There is a moderate degree of pain, which also resolves. A first-degree burn does not blister. First-degree burns are usually not serious, and recovery occurs without sequelae. In some cases, an award of $10,000 can be won.
- Second-degree burns: This burn affects both the epidermis and the dermis. The dermis is the layer of skin that contains capillaries, nerves, and hair follicles. A second-degree burn, which can be caused by hot liquids, oil, flames and metal, blisters. One common type of second-degree burn is when a person sits out in the sun. While each case is different and the awards may vary, on average $25,000 to $75,000 may be awarded.
- Third-degree burns: This type of burn is often life-threatening because all layers of skin and nerves are destroyed, and underlying muscles are damaged. The skin has a charred appearance and does not heal quickly. The end result of a third-degree burn varies such that some people may recover while others may experience long-term suffering and death. The average settlement, depending on circumstances, ranges between $100,000 and millions.
- Fourth-degree burns: These are the worst and result from lye or gasoline burns and electrocution. All layers of the skin are destroyed, and causative chemicals can be quickly absorbed. Not only are they life-threatening but often require an amputation when an extremity is involved. Payouts can be in the millions.
Burn Injury Care
Burn injuries have a significant effect on just about every organ system. While medicine has made huge strides in terms of inhalation and infection treatment, the consequences of a burn are difficult and time-consuming to treat. This leads to long-term hospitalization, usually in a specialized burn unit.
The following provides the initial care protocol:
- Initial stabilization in the ER
- Continued cardiac and respiratory stabilization in intensive care
- Wound care
- Fluid replacement and pain management
- Reassessment of burn extent and depth and recalculation of fluid needs
- Management of sepsis and organ dysfunction, particularly the kidneys
Some patients, depending on the severity of the burn, require surgery to remove tissue that has died and placement of skin grafts. Recovery is long and rehabilitation is needed as patients begin to heal. Scarring is common and may require cosmetic surgery. Severely burned patients are frequently disabled for more than three months or permanently. When organ system failure, permanent disability or being unable to work for more than three months occurs, the injured party can go outside of New York’s no-fault insurance and file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Calculating the Value of My Claim
The following damages can be recovered:
- Medical expenses in the present
- Long-term medical costs
- At-home nursing care
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Funds to cover the household tasks previously done by the injured individual such as childcare, landscaping or tax preparation
- Home modification to accommodate a disabled individual
- Lost wages
- Permanent lost wages until the time of retirement if disabled and unable to work
- Emotional and psychological damages
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in some cases