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Burns are one of the most expensive and traumatic injuries that a person can experience. Third degree burns can take years of treatment in order to heal and often have a significant impact on the victim’s quality of life and ability to work in the future. Burn accidents in Denver can cause much pain and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment, therapies, and physical rehabilitation. While third degree burns are more deadly, even a simple first-degree burn can become infected and require expensive medical treatment.
Given the complex and lengthy nature of burn recovery, victims should not shoulder the burden on their injuries alone. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a burn injury due to someone else’s negligence or intentional misconduct, you may be entitled to compensation. Insurance adjusters, landlords, negligent employers, and others at-fault will work hard to minimize payouts to burn injury victims. That’s why it’s important that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
At Zinda Law Group, our Denver-area personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and skills necessary to help you maximize your compensation for your burn injury. Our firm has handled numerous burn accident cases for plaintiffs across the state of Colorado. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our experienced Denver-area burn injury lawyers today.
Severity of Burn Injuries
A “burn” refers to any damage to the skin or deeper tissues caused by sun, hot liquids, fire, electricity, or chemicals. There are four main types of burns:
- Thermal Burns – caused by exposing skin to fire, steam, hot liquids, or other sources of extreme heat
- Light Burns – caused by exposing skin to sunlight or ultraviolet light
- Chemical Burns – caused by exposing skin to a highly acidic or alkali substances
- Contact Burns – caused by placing skin in direct contact with a heat source or in the vicinity of a radioactive substance
Although burns can be caused by a variety of sources, the severity of a burn is graded largely by the size and depth of the affected tissue as well as the symptoms reported by the patient. The Mayo Clinic reports that it can take a day or two for the signs and symptoms of a severe burn to fully develop.
Burn severity or the “degree” of a burn is graded according to the depth of skin that was damage:
- 1st-Degree Burn. This type of burn refers to a minor injury that affects only the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). Such burns may cause redness and temporary pain.
- 2nd-Degree Burn. This type of burn affects both the epidermis and the second layer of skin (the dermis). Such burns may cause swelling, redness, or white-splotchy skin. Blisters may also develop, and the pain can be quite severe. When a second-degree burn runs deep or affects an area of thin skin, the victim can also develop scarring from blisters.
- 3rd-Degree Burn. This type of burn reaches the deepest layer of skin. It penetrates through the epidermis, the dermis, and into the fat layer beneath the skin. Third-degree burned areas may become black, brown, or even white in color after the initial burn. The skin may look leathery or slough off when friction is applied. Third-degree burns can destroy nerves, causing numbness and even loss of mobility. They also present the great risk for scarring and often require skin-grafting to heal fully.
- 4th-Degree Burn. This type of burn reaches beneath the deepest layers of skin and fat, affecting the bones, muscles, and organs underneath. As with third degree burns, these burns require long-term medical care as well as medications, surgeries, and skin grafts. Such burns always result in scarring.
Burn Injury Statistics
According to the American Burn Association (ABA), sourcing data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey which provides the annual estimates of hospital admissions and emergency room visits in the United States, there were approximately 489,000 burn injuries that received medical treatment across the United States in 2017.
Of these 489,000 injuries, the ABA reports an average of 3,275 deaths related to fire and smoke inhalation. Fire and smoke inhalation deaths are often combined in the data sources because deaths from thermal burns in structural fires cannot always be distinguished from deaths from inhalation of fumes or smoke. The ABA estimates that the odds of an American dying from exposure to fire or smoke-related injuries is almost 1 in 1442, which means there is about one civilian death due to fire or smoke inhalation every 2 hours and 40 minutes in the United States.
While analyzing this data, the ABA determined that when burn victims required admission to the hospitalization, 43% were the result of direct contract with fire or flames, 34% were the result of scalding or boiling water, 9% were the result of contract burns, 4% were due to electricity, 3% were caused by chemical exposure, and the other 7% were undetermined. Also, the most common places where burn injuries occur were in the home (73%), while participating in recreational activities and sports (9%), while at work (5%), and while driving (5%); (the other 9% was undetermined).
While these statistics appear grim, the ABA also reports that the survival rate for most structural fires is about 96.8%.
Can I File a Lawsuit for a Burn Injury?
The answer to this question depends largely on how the burn occurred and who was responsible for the injury. If you were burned as a result of your own negligence or recklessness, you will most likely not be able to recover compensation for your injury.
If, however, someone else’s negligence or intentional conduct caused or contributed to your burn, then you may be entitled to damages, including, but not limited to, permanent or temporary disability, lost wages, medical expenses, loss of quality of life, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disfigurement.
How Much is My Burn Injury Case Worth?
The value of your burn injury case depends on several factors, including the severity of the burn, the other types of damages alleged, and the specific damage cap in your state.
Types of Damages
Generally, there are two categories of damages available to Denver plaintiffs for compensation: economic damages and non-economic damages, both of which will be factored into the evaluation of your claim.
Economic damages refer to the losses that can be easily documented and quantified. In order to determine the extent of your economic damages, courts will look at a host of expenses, including:
- What you were charged for any medical treatment that you were provided in connection with the initial accident,
- If any medical treatment or therapies will be necessary in the future,
- Whether you lost any wages as a result of the injury or recovery period, and
- Whether your ability to earn wages in the future has been impaired or impacted by the accident.
Non-economic damages refer to the losses that are more difficult to quantify monetarily. In order to determine your non-economic damages, we take into consideration:
- Any emotional distress or pain and suffering caused by the injury,
- Any permanent physical impairment or disfigurement that results in the loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Any other non-financial inconveniences you may experience as a result of the injury, such as lost companionship or lost consortium.
The challenge with non-economic damages is deciding how to place a value on the intangible losses and then to justify this value to an insurance company, judge, or jury. It is for this reason that many personal injury claims require experts to testify to these quantities.
State-Specific Damage Caps
Another important consideration when assessing the value of your burn injury claim is your state’s damage caps. A damage cap refers to a state law which places a limit on the amount that plaintiffs can recover for particular types of damages.
Under Colorado law, while there is no cap on the amount of economic damages that a plaintiff can receive for their personal injury claim, there is, however, a cap on non-economic damages. The current non-economic damages cap for civil claims (other than medical malpractice claims) sits at $250,000, but this sum can be extended to the absolute maximum of $499,999 through a demonstration of clear and convincing evidence for its justification to the court. C.R.S. § 13-21-102.5(3)(a). Similarly, the award for noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice action cannot exceed $300,000. The state also imposes a $1,000,000 cap on total damages. C.R.S. § 13-64-302.
Can I File a Lawsuit If I Was Burned While at Work?
If you suffered a burn injury while at work, recovering compensation for your injuries can be both complicated and easy, depending on the severity of the injuries and the responsiveness of your insurer. The good news is that if you are injured while on the job, then you are most likely entitled to compensation; however, the party from whom you will recover may vary. This is particularly true if you are enrolled in a workers’ compensation insurance program.
Workers' compensation (also known as “workers’ comp”) is a form of state-designed insurance, ran through employers and opted into by employees. Workers’ compensation statutes provide a framework for states to issue wage replacements and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of their employment. In exchange for enrollment in this rapid and guaranteed compensation system, employees are mandated to relinquish their right to sue their employer for negligence. Across the country, the majority of states have made it compulsory for almost all employers to carry some form of workers’ compensation insurance (depending upon the given characteristics of the organization), with the notable exception of Texas.
In reality, although workers’ compensation provides some level of coverage for medical expenses and lost wages sustained by employees and/or their beneficiaries, it is not always adequate to cover the full extent of the damages, both physical and psychological, that the accident victims have suffered and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives. In-fact, the Workers’ Compensation Act often acts as a cap to limit the amount of recovery a client can pursue from their insurer, preventing them from receiving a full, fair, and complete recovery. Thus, there are a number of exceptions and alternatives that you should understand to fully protect your rights to compensation for work-related injuries.
While the vast majority of injured employees will only recovery by virtue of workers’ compensation, there are some rare exceptions where they may still retain the ability to file a personal injury claim against either their employer or some other party. These exceptions include:
- Failure of the Employer to Maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Third-Party Exception
- Intentional Torts committed by the Employer
The burn injury lawyers at Zinda Law group may be able to handle both your workers’ compensation claim and any other third-party claims that you may wish to file.
Common Accidents Resulting in Burn Injuries
Our firm handles burn injury cases involving:
- Structural fires (homes, apartment buildings, shopping centers, etc.)
- Workplace accidents
- Motor-vehicle accidents
- Electrical fires
- Defective products
- Chemical burns
- Faulty fire prevention devices
- Scalding water and excessively high hot-water pumps
- Recreational fires (bonfires, camping, other accidents in outdoor spaces)
GET HELP FROM OUR colorado Burn injury ATTORNEYS TODAY.
At Zinda Law Group, our Denver burn accident attorneys have helped severe burn survivors and their loved ones get their lives back after undergoing extensive medical treatments and lengthy rehabilitation programs. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for any associated medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and all the other costs caused by your accident.
Our firm believes that injured clients should not have to worry about their ability to afford high-quality legal representation. This is why we offer 100% free consultations. Zinda Law Group operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you or a loved one have suffered a severe burn, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with our Denver-area attorneys today. We are also offering free virtual consultations during the COVID-19 crisis.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.