A Guide to Burn Injury Settlements

Settlement Values for Burn Injuries

Burns are extremely painful and traumatic injuries to incur; they can take months to heal, and they often leave scars that last for years, if not forever. These injuries are unfortunately all too common, as the American Burn Association states that 450,000 people receive medical attention for burns each year. 

If you have suffered a burn at the fault of another person, company, or organization, you can hire a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to ensure you are compensated for any medical bills and pain you suffer as a result. These kinds of claims are often seen the most, as they can be expensive to deal with.

The most common situations where a second degree burn accident attorney in Los Angeles is hired to get the victim compensation are:  

  • Truck or car accidents 
  • Workplace injuries 
  • Defective products 
  • Electrical accidents 
  • Apartment building fires
  • Fires in public places 
  • Scalding water or pipes 
  • Scalding drinks at restaurants

If you find yourself suffering a burn that you think needs medical attention, don’t hesitate to visit the emergency room. Then, contact Gutierrez Law’s lawyer for fire-based accidents to ensure that your medical bills are covered by the party liable for your injury. We will work to ensure that the settlement you are given is enough to cover the treatment of your burn as well as any compounding suffering. 

The settlement for a burn injury lawsuit depends on the number of damages that you and your attorney claim were a result of the injury. Burns can have severe and long-lasting effects on the skin and body, as well as your mental state. 

Bodily Injury Damages

Burns can range in severity from first-degree to fourth-degree, and compensation is usually only necessary for second-degree and above. 

  • First-degree: a first-degree burn only affects the outer layer of skin. While it’s painful when it first happens, the burn usually only causes a change in skin color, which can be temporary.
  • Second-degree: The burn site of a second-degree burn looks red, blistered, and may be swollen and painful. The top and bottom layers are affected.
  • Third-degree: Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention, as they destroy the epidermis and dermis and reach down to the innermost layer of skin. Victims with this kind of burn will need on-going medical treatment, including possible skin grafting. 
  • Fourth-degree: This is the most severe level of burn, and it can even damage bone and muscle. Since nerve endings are destroyed, the victim will not feel pain, but they will require surgery and skin grafting.

Burns not only require immediate medical treatment, sometimes they multiple treatments over a period of months or even years. Depending on your job, you may have to take time off to recover. This results in lost wages, which will only add to the financial burden. You may also need to start seeing a physical therapist so that you can adjust to moving with your damaged skin and scar tissue.

Depending on the severity and placement of the burn, you may need to undergo amputation, skin grafting, and even reconstructive plastic surgery. Those are just the physical damages, as the emotional turmoil and trauma you face can also be immense.

Pain and Suffering 

A liable defendant must also compensate for the emotional pain a disfigured or traumatized burn victim has suffered and will continue to suffer for, perhaps, the rest of their life. Damages for pain and suffering are determined by the extent and nature of the physical damage. 

If the victim is disfigured by scar tissue and burnt skin, they are more likely to be embarrassed, insecure, or depressed than someone with less visible injuries. For example, someone with scar tissue across their face will receive a higher settlement than someone with a burn on their thigh. 

PTSD occurs in roughly a third of burn survivors, so the trauma that the victim will endure should also be taken into account. Effects of this kind of trauma can include nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety.

Punitive Damages

Situations where the liable party acted with an extreme level of carelessness or intent to harm can result in additional compensation. Punitive damages are awarded in personal injury cases when the defendant acted intentionally or very negligently, and they serve as a sort of punishment. 

Courts that assign punitive damages are trying to make sure that the defendant does not repeat the same behavior that led to your injury. 

Settlement Values  

Settlement values for burn injury lawsuits can vary from tens of thousands of dollars to several million. It all depends on the emotional trauma, scars, and medical treatment that result from the accident. A few case studies are listed below.

The most well-known burn injury case is the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit that happened in the 1990s. Stella Liebeck, an elderly customer, suffered third-degree burns after her coffee cup spilled all over her lap. She required skin grafting surgery to her inner thighs. During the course of the investigation, it came to light that McDonald’s had received over 700 reports of customer injuries due to the 180-degree temperature of their coffee. The court ordered McDonald’s to pay $2.9 million dollars in punitive damages for this customer safety oversight. 

Another lawsuit involves an electrician named Jordan Neissel who suffered severe burns to 7% of his external skin while repairing Rensselear Polytechnic Institute’s circuit breaker. The plaintiff suffered significant nerve damage to his arms as well as PTSD from the accident, and he was awarded $3.6 million dollars. 

A less severe injury case is that of a teacher who was undergoing elbow surgery when a poorly-maintained lamp caused third-degree burns to his arm. He had to undergo skin grafts from his thigh, and the burns put him at a heightened risk of skin cancer if exposed to the sun, so he had to wear long-sleeved shirts every day. He received $425,000 for past and future pain and suffering.

Make sure that you hire a lawyer that will work to quantify all the pain and suffering you have endured and will continue to experience. Having a solid breakdown of all your physical and emotional injuries will help the courts determine the size of your settlement. Contact Gutierrez Law to begin your case.