When most people sustain a burn injury, it is fairly minor. A burn could result from touching a pot on the stove, or getting too close to a fireplace while throwing another log on. However, there are times when burns are extremely serious and change a person’s life forever. This is often the case after a house fire or an explosion at the scene of a car accident.
When these severe burn injuries occur, the consequences are often permanent. A person may suffer from scarring and disfigurement, and have to undergo painful skin grafts. All of this is not only agonizing for the accident victim, but treatment is also expensive. Fortunately, accident victims can seek compensation for their injuries if someone else was to blame for the accident that caused them. This can often help ease the financial burden of the injuries.
Causes of Burn Injuries
Most people are not aware of just how common burn injuries are. According to the American Burn Association, 486,000 people received medical treatment for burn injuries in 2016 alone. Some burn injuries were so severe they were fatal for 3,275 people that same year.
These injuries and fatalities are so commonly seen due to the fact that burns can occur in a number of ways. Some of the most common causes of burn injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, if the gas in any vehicle ignites
- Defective products, such as faulty stoves
- Home fires
- Workplace fires and explosions
- Scalding injuries
- Gas explosions from pipelines or factories
- Chemical accidents
- Electrical accidents
When any of these accidents occur, the resulting burns are typically serious. In some cases, surgery is required to treat the burns.
Types of Burns
When most people think of a burn injury, they imagine minor burns that are easy to treat. Burn injuries are often some of the worst seen at accidents though, and among the hardest to treat.
First-degree burns are those minor injuries that are not very serious. The skin may become red and slightly swollen, but likely will not blister. Running the burn under cool water for several minutes and applying burn lotion is often enough to treat these types of burns.
Any burn that is more severe than a first-degree burn is a serious injury. Second-degree burns do not only damage the top layer of skin, but the layers underneath, as well. These burns will cause the skin to blister and give it a shiny appearance, as though it is wet. Injury victims should always see a doctor for these types of burns to ensure they do not become infected.
Lastly, third-degree burns are the very worst kind and damage all the layers of skin. In some cases, these burns go so deep they damage internal organs. Sometimes they even cause nerve damage so the accident victim is unable to feel pain. These burns most often require skin grafts, which is an extremely painful process of replacing the old non-viable skin with new skin.
Liability for Burn Injuries
The effects of a burn injury can stay with an accident victim for the rest of his or her life. Severe burning may cause scarring and disfigurement. This cannot only cause someone to lose full function of that body part, such as a hand that has become disfigured, but can also cause emotional distress. Sometimes burn victims are embarrassed by their injury and it causes them to withdraw from social situations or even stop working.
When burn injuries affect someone’s life in such a serious way and the accident that caused the injury was the fault of someone else, burn victims can file a lawsuit against the liable party. Determining who was liable for the accident is sometimes trickier than it sounds.
For example, if the burns were caused by a multi-vehicle accident, the injured party would need to identify the negligent driver who caused the accident. If the burn injuries were caused by a faulty stove, the burn victim may need to determine if the manufacturer was responsible, or if it was the supplier who installed a new part on the stove.
Sometimes it is quite obvious whom the liable party is for burn injuries, but that is not always the case. It is often especially difficult for burn victims to identify the negligent party when they are trying to recover from such serious injuries. A personal injury lawyer in West Virginia can investigate the accident and determine whom to hold liable so burn victims can claim the compensation they need.
Compensation Available for Burn Injuries
According to a study done in 2011, burns are extremely costly to treat. The average cost for hospital stays due to burns alone was $15,250. When electrical burns were studied, this amount increased to $22,501. In addition to these costs, a person incurs many other costs when injured.
Accident victims should not have to pay for these costs when the accident that caused their injuries was the fault of someone else. West Virginia allows burn injury victims to claim compensation in a lawsuit filed against that negligent party.
A personal injury lawsuit can provide for many of the costs associated with burn injuries including:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy expenses
- Property damage expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
These are just a few of the most common types of compensation available in burn injury lawsuits. An attorney can review the facts of the case and advise on all types of compensation available.
Hire a West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney For Burn Injuries
Burn injuries can be severe and often take a lifetime for victims to recover. While compensation is often available through a personal injury lawsuit, it is not always easy to claim. A personal injury lawyer in West Virginia can give accident victims their best chance of success when filing a claim.
If you have been in an accident and have suffered severe burns, or any other type of injury, do not try to handle your claim on your own. Contact Goddard & Wagoner today to learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations. Call us today at (304) 470-8441 or fill out our online form and we will be in touch.