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How to Build Your Burn Injury Accident Claim


Burn injuries are among the most painful and devastating injuries anyone can possibly experience. Due to the severity of these types of injuries, medical treatment will often require extensive treatment, costly plastic surgery, and victims may still be left with permanent scarring. Many burn injury victims also suffer from excruciating pain and psychological scars that make it nearly impossible to ever live a normal life.

Los Angeles is a hot spot for fires, as well as products and activities that can cause burns. Southern California is a desert land susceptible to wildfires, and according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s Fire Statistics, there were a total of 1,318,500 fires throughout the country, which resulted in 15,200 injuries and 3,655 deaths in 2018.

However, fires aren’t the only cause of burn injuries. A burn injury can be caused by many circumstances, such as a product defect, a workplace injury, or because of someone's negligence. In essence, the individual or company responsible for a burn injury will generally be held liable to the victim for his or her losses.

A burn injury victim may be entitled to compensatory damages for:

  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages 
  • Property loss
  • Medical bills 
  • Loss Of consortium
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity

1. Filing a Burn Injury Claim


According to recent data, which comes courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 486,000 burn injuries that required significant medical treatment occurred in 2011. The total amount of deaths was more than 3,000 people in that same year.

A burn injury is technically a type of personal injury, and victims are entitled to file a personal injury claim to seek money damages for their physical injuries and financial losses.

As mentioned, burn injury claims will generally be based on:

  • Negligence
  • Product defects
  • Premises liability

2. Types of Burn Injury Cases


Some of the most common burn injury causes include:

2.1 Premises Liability and Burn Injuries


A property owner may be held liable if a burn accident happens because of a hazard on their property. According to California premises liability law, all property owners and occupiers are legally required to maintain their property in reasonably safe conditions.

This means that every property owner has a duty of care to maintain their property, repair any hazardous conditions, or at least provide adequate warnings about any hazardous conditions on their property.

Let’s consider an example:

Bill recently signed a rental agreement. The rental agreement mentions that the landlord is responsible for providing Bill with a working stove. Soon after moving in, Bill starts cooking a meal. Through no fault of his own, the stove malfunctions and badly burns Bill’s hands.

In this example, the landlord was responsible for providing Bill with a safe, working stove. The landlord would therefore be held liable for Bill’s injuries and losses.

2.2 Negligence and Burn Injuries


Negligence is essentially a wrongful act committed by an individual, company, or group that causes harm to someone else. In order to successfully pursue a burn injury claim, a victim must prove that:

  • the defendant owed the burn injury victim a duty of care
  • the defendant failed to comply with this duty of care
  • the defendant's failure to comply with their duty of care was the significant factor that caused a burn injury victim’s losses

California is a comparative negligence state, which means that a burn injury victim may still recover some damages even if he or she is found partially liable for the accident. A burn injury victim’s available damages will of course be reduced by his or her degree of fault.

Let’s consider an example of negligence and burn injuries:

Mary is having drinks at a local beach to celebrate the July 4th holiday. Normally, she wouldn’t be interested in fireworks, but because she’s been drinking, she lights a few fireworks. She then throws them in the direction of her friend Bob. Mary has no intention of harming Bob. In fact, she thinks it would be a hilarious practical joke to scare him.

Unfortunately, one of the fireworks lands in a bonfire which causes an explosion that burns Bob’s hands and face. Mary didn’t want to hurt her friend Bob, yet her negligent actions caused Bob very serious injuries.

In this example, Bob is entitled to file a claim against Mary. And Mary would almost certainly be held liable for Bob’s injuries and applicable damages. Mary would likely have to pay for Bob’s medical bills and lost wages. And given that Bob’s burns happened in very sensitive areas, it’s likely that Bob would also qualify for additional damages to compensate him for his pain, suffering, and physical disfigurement.  

2.3 Faulty Products and Burn Injuries


A company who produces or sells a defective product that causes a burn injury may be held liable for any losses caused. According to product liability law, anyone involved in the chain of distribution -- including product designers, manufacturers, or sellers -- can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the faulty product.

Strict liability cases typically revolve around:

  • Defects in the design process 
  • Defects in the manufacturing process
  • Lack of adequate warnings or proper instructions

In order to successfully pursue a product liability lawsuit after a burn injury, a victim must prove that the:

  • Burn injury victim used this product in a reasonable way
  • Defendant designed, manufactured, or sold a defective product
  • Product defect was the significant factor that caused a burn injury victim's losses
  • Product already had a design, manufacturing, or warning defect when it left the defendant

Let’s consider the following example of a burn caused by a faulty product: 

Imagine that Jose purchased a brand new e-scooter. The e-scooter seems to be working just fine. However, while Jose is going for a ride, the scooter suddenly bursts into flames and Jose experiences severe burns to his legs and lower body.

Jose contacts a lawyer who helps him determine that the e-scooter was defective. However, the e-scooter manufacturer denies liability. The store that sold Jose the defective scooter also claims they had no idea about the product defect and are therefore not responsible.

However, all Jose really needs to do to successfully pursue a product liability claim is prove the defendant designed, manufactured, or sold a defective e-scooter, that the e-scooter already had a design, manufacturing, or warning defect when it left the defendant, that Jose used the e-scooter in a reasonable way, and that the e-scooter’s defect caused his injuries.

2.4 Injured on the Job


If you suffered a burn injury while at work, you will have to file a worker’s compensation claim in order to recover damages. An employee is not required to file a lawsuit or prove an employer’s negligence. Generally speaking, non-economic damages are not available.

An employee who suffered a burn injury on the job may have the option of filing a personal injury claim but only if their accident was:

  • Caused by a third party
  • Caused by deliberately harmful acts
  • Made worse by an act or circumstance which the employer concealed by fraud
  • If that employer doesn’t have any workers' compensation insurance when the accident took place.

3. Available Damages in a Burn Injury Claim


A burn injury victim may be entitled to compensatory damages for:

  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages 
  • Property loss
  • Medical bills 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity

3.1 Economic Damages vs Non-Economic Damages


In a burn injury accident, economic damages may include:

  • Surgeries
  • Skin grafting 
  • Property damage
  • Burn unit treatments
  • Lost earning capacity

Non-economic damages may cover a burn injury victim’s losses for:

  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical impairment
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

4. Can I Sue on Behalf of a Family Member Who Was Killed?


In some instances, or if a person gets trapped in a fire or if their burn injuries become severely infected, they can die. According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, there was an average of 1.1 deaths and 3.6 injuries per 1,000 fires in 2018.

Surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim if a family member was killed in a fire accident. A wrongful death lawsuit allows certain surviving family members to recover damages and also hold the wrongdoer liable for their actions.

In the majority of wrongful death cases, the surviving family members who are entitled to file a wrongful death claim include:

  • the spouse
  • the children of the deceased
  • the registered domestic partner
  • the grandchildren of the deceased, if the children have already passed
  • any person who is entitled to the decedent’s property according to California intestate succession laws

Available damages after a wrongful death claim may include:

  • Burial costs
  • Funeral costs
  • Loss of companionship, support, affection, and guidance
  • Loss of financial support that the deceased would have provided had they not been killed

5. Burn Injury Medical Treatment Costs


Given the severity of burn injuries, medical bills tend to be very high. Even with the best medical insurance coverage, most severe burn injury victims will have a hard time paying for necessary medical care. 

It has been estimated that even a moderate burn injury will cost a victim over $200,000. More serious injuries typically cost over $1.5 million, and that’s if everything goes relatively well. The most severe burn injuries with serious complications can cost an individual over $10 million.

These types of injuries will almost always require long term, specialized medical treatment such as spending time in a burn unit. Serious burn injuries also carry a much heightened risk of the following complications:

  • Infections
  • Skin graft failure
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Psychological/emotional issues

6. Read More Burn Injury Resources


You dine out to enjoy some good food, not to get burned. If you are burned at a restaurant, you can hold the restaurant liable. Most businesses likely have business insurance already set in place to cover damages in the case of an injury. If the insurance compensation is not enough, you can take the insurance company to court.

Burns can occur at most places that involve the use of heat and fire. However, it is more common to get burned at some places than others. Most of these places include businesses, which likely have business insurance to cover injuries on their premises. 

There’s multiple classifications of burns, depending on the severity of the damage caused to the skin, bones, and muscles. The classification of a burn can affect the compensations from an insurance claim or a lawsuit.  

Each burn injury is different and requires treatment particular to its injury type. Some common forms of general burn treatment include medication, creams, and water treatments.

Chemical burns result from dangerous and abrasive chemicals coming into contact with the skin. They can have serious health consequences and long term effects.  

Burns from products can come from vaping devices, electric blankets,and portable heaters. If you get burned from a product, you could hold the product manufacturer responsible.

In the case of getting injured from a burn, you can get compensation from the insurance companies for the damages suffered from the accident. You can pursue a settlement with them or take them to court to file a lawsuit.

Tanning salon burns are dangerous since tanning beds are enclosed spaces that someone must open up to release you from. The tanning salon bed manufacturer, property owner, and employers/employees could be held liable for your accident.

A burn injury can happen in an accident at any time, and can be an excruciating experience. However, there are important steps to take immediately to ensure that you win a burn accident injury claim to get the medical attention, recovery, and compensation you deserve.

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