After an accident, victims may wonder, “how much compensation can I claim for a burn injury?” The value of a burn injury claim depends on the severity of a victim’s injuries, the location of the burn, where and how the accident occurred, and the impact of the burn on the victim’s life. A burn injury lawyer in Illinois can help Chicago victims assess their case to determine a fair settlement value prior to pursuing a claim.
What Is Considered a Major Burn Injury?
Burn injuries fall into three classifications, referred to as the “degree” to which a person is burned. These classifications are first, second, and third degree burns. The severity of a burn increases with each classification level. The higher the degree of a burn, the more significant the impact of the injury.
First Degree Burns – A first degree burn impacts the outer layer of a victim’s skin. Symptoms of a first degree burn include redness, swelling, and pain in the afflicted area. These burns typically heal faster and require minimal medical treatment.
Second Degree Burns – Second degree burns impact the outer layer of the skin, as well as the underlying layer. Symptoms of these burns are the same as first degree burns, but with blistering as well. These burns require slightly more treatment than first degree burns.
Third Degree Burns – Third degree burns are the most severe level of burn. They can cause skin to turn white or black and become numb. These burns affect the deeper layers of skin and tissue on a victim’s body, and require more substantial treatment and recovery time.
In addition to three classifications, a burn injury can be categorized as minor or major. Whether a burn is minor or major depends on the degree of burn, as well as its location on the victim’s body. First degree burns, or second degree burns impacting less than two inches of skin, are considered minor. Third degree burns, or second degree burns larger than two inches or located on the hands, feet, joints, groin, butt, or face are considered major. Young children and older adults are at higher risk for more impactful side effects from a burn injury.
As the severity of a burn injury increases at each classification level, so do the treatment costs and the impact felt by the victim. For this reason, burn injuries of a higher degree will yield a higher settlement value in a personal injury claim.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
Burns occur when the skin comes into contact with excessive heat, or from chemicals or fumes that cause injury to the skin. The most common causes of burn injuries are:
- Thermal burns from exposure to fire
- Radiation burns from medical treatment or tanning beds
- Chemical burns
- Inhalation burns due to breathing in toxic fumes, steam, or smoke
- Electrical burns, which occur when high voltage electricity comes into contact with the skin
- Scalding, which occurs when hot liquids come into contact with the skin
A burn injury caused by the above conditions can result from a variety of accident types. These include motor vehicle accidents, fires in public places or residences, cooking accidents, electrical accidents, and defective products. Firework accident and injury statistics show a significant uptick in burn injuries during celebratory holidays. Additionally, workplace accidents place industry workers at risk for burns on a daily basis.
Burn Injury Claims for Workplace Accidents
Workers can face burn injuries due to a variety of conditions. The most common work-related burn injuries include chemical, scald, thermal, and electrical burns. When a burn injury occurs on the job, victims can file a workers’ compensation claim to recover expenses related to treatment. Compensation recoverable in a workplace burn injury claim include initial medical treatment costs, long term care or rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, disfigurement, lost wages, and, in some cases, disability benefits.
Settlement Value of a Burn Injury Claim
The settlement value of a burn injury claim is impacted by the severity of the burn and the conditions under which the injury occurred. Burns that are higher in degree level, or those located on vulnerable areas of the body, will require more extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation time. As a result, these burns will yield higher settlement amounts.
Similarly, burns to vulnerable populations, such as older adults or young children, may impact the victim in a more significant way. Burns that leave permanent scarring or disfigurement, or those that impact a victim’s life for a prolonged period of time, will also yield higher settlements.
Types of Compensation Available for Burn Injuries
Depending on the conditions of the accident, whether one party was negligent in causing a victim’s burns, or how severe the burns were, a victim can recover a variety of compensation types in a burn injury claim. These include:
Economic Damages – Economic damages are those which are tied directly to a monetary cost. These include lost wages, initial medical treatment costs, long term care costs, and any other tangible financial impact to the victim that resulted from the injury.
Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages represent those that are not directly tied to a financial cost. These include disfigurement, pain and suffering felt by the victim, emotional distress, PTSD, and any other resulting condition from the accident.
Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party in a burn injury claim. These damages are rarely awarded, and are only appropriate when a defendant acted in an intentional or egregious manner, causing the injury to the victim.
How a Burn Injury Attorney Helps Increase Your Settlement
Retaining the help of a burn injury attorney can greatly increase the value of your settlement. An attorney will help you build a solid foundation for your case, including gathering evidence, retaining expert witnesses, and finding proof of fault for your accident. Personal injury lawyers are familiar with evaluating damages in a claim. They can calculate a fair settlement value and negotiate with the other party on your behalf to ensure you aren’t accepting compensation below what you deserve. The Illinois burn injury attorneys at Ankin Law are not afraid to take your case to trial to ensure you reach a fair settlement.
An attorney also helps a victim file an injury claim by the book. Following the right reporting deadlines, and knowing what information to provide to a judge, jury, or insurance company can speed up the claims process, reduce legal fees, and increase the chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit.