Burns are among the most painful injuries a person can sustain. They often result in extensive surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and secondary illnesses—sometimes for years to come. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a fire-related accident, you have the legal right to compensation from the person who caused your burn injuries. Don’t face the insurance company alone—trust the experience of the highly skilled burn injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group. Florida burn victims trust our expertise and personalized service to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. We also hold defendants accountable for their negligence so that other innocent victims do not have to suffer burn injuries in the future.
What Type of Compensation Is Available to Burn Injury Victims?
The person who is legally responsible for causing your burn injury is also obligated to compensate your financial losses, which can include:
- Medical expenses are often significant for burn injury victims. In addition to emergency treatments and surgeries, most victims require initial periods of hospitalization. This can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses within days of the injury—and most burn victims require medical treatment for years to come, including costly consultations with specialists, regular check-ups, cosmetic surgeries, and other such appointments. Many burn victims also develop secondary diseases, such as respiratory illnesses. Medical expenses can also include rehabilitative services, such as physical and occupational therapies.
- Pain and suffering is often the largest component of a personal injury award. Pain is subjective, and therefore it can be difficult to assign a monetary value to an accident victim’s suffering. Insurance adjusters are generally trained to perform a simple calculation based on the total medical expenses incurred by the victim. This does not take into account the unique nature of pain or any circumstances that may worsen a particular victim’s pain (such as pregnancy, or an inability to tolerate pain medication). Burns are particularly painful injuries, and often they result in pain management services for years to come. An experienced personal injury attorney, however, can protect your right to compensation for your individual pain and suffering.
- Lost wages occur when an injury victim misses work as a result of injuries. Whether immediately after the accident occurs, sick time for recovery, or time off for medical appointments, the time you miss from work results in lost wages. For an hourly employee, lost wages are a simple calculation of hours missed multiplied by the employee’s hourly pay. Salaried employees must first prorate their salaries to determine the hourly rate, then perform the same calculation. Bonuses, profit sharing, and other performance incentives are also compensable. It can be difficult to definitively prove the dollar value of such performance incentives, but if documentation supports the value, and if the incentive was lost as a result of the accident, this, too, can become part of a lost wage compensation award. Lost wages can also result from a decrease in future earnings potential that permanent injuries cause. Severe burns often permanently impair the victim’s ability to engage in gainful employment.
- Property damage is often incidental to the accident that caused burn injuries. For example, a car accident that burns the victim is also likely to result in significant damage to a vehicle. Household accidents that cause burns are likely to damage furnishings in the house—or even the structure of the building—as well. A burn sustained in a public location may also damage the victim’s clothing or jewelry. All of these losses are subject to compensation by the person who is legally responsible for causing the burn injuries.
How Do I Know Who is Responsible for My Burn Injuries?
The person who is liable for causing your injuries is also legally obligated to compensate you for them. It can be difficult to know which person, persons, or companies are legally responsible for causing your burn injuries. In car accidents, the insurance companies will generally determine which drivers were at fault—or apportion fault among multiple drivers—and pay for losses accordingly.
It can be far more difficult to establish that a homeowner was negligent in causing a fire or that a store owner subjected customers to an unreasonable risk of burns. Chemical burns are even more complicated. If a public pool used too much chlorine, patrons may be entitled to compensation for irritation, eye damage, or other illnesses from the agency running the pool. A laboratory worker accidentally exposed to chemicals in the workplace may be entitled to worker’s compensation coverage. If a defective consumer product—such as a curling iron—burns an unsuspecting user, the manufacturer may face products liability claims. In every situation, the specific circumstances of an individual case will determine the liable party.
The good news is that burn victims do not have to make complicated legal determinations of liability on their own. An experienced burn injury attorney will help determine exactly which party or parties are responsible for causing your injuries and what insurance coverage may be available to pay for your losses. Without a skilled legal professional to review your case, you cannot be certain that you have accessed all of compensation to which Florida law entitles you. Letting our legal team handle your case will also allow you to focus on your recovery.
Florida Burn Injury Frequently Asked Questions
If you ever suffered a burn, you know just how painful they can be. According to the CDC, over 300 children receive treatment in the emergency room every day. And every year, thousands of Florida residents seek treatment for burns they suffered at home, at work, or during an accident.
If you have sustained a serious burn, it’s normal to have questions. If the burn was the result of someone else’s negligence, you’re likely wondering: “What’s next?”
The answers to these questions can help you understand your rights after an injury. If you still have questions or need help with your burn injury case, contact an experienced Florida burn injury attorney.
How do I know if I have a legal claim after a Florida burn injury?
One of the most common questions Florida burn injury lawyers get is: “Do I have a case?” When it comes to burns, figuring out the answer can be tricky. For Florida burn injury cases, you have to show liability. In other words, you have to prove another party owed you a duty of care, the defendant breached the duty of care, and their actions or inaction caused you harm.
Many burn injuries victims fail to realize someone else may hold liability for their condition. This is often the case with premises liability and product liability. So how do you know when you have a case?
Common examples include:
- Car accidents: In one recent year, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department reported 403,626 motor vehicle accidents. Of these, 152,067 involved injuries. Burns during an accident can happen after contact with a hot surface or chemical or as the result of a fire. If the other driver was at least partially at fault for the accident, the law allows you to seek damages for your injuries.
- Workplace accidents: Kitchen staff and construction workers are two of the most at-risk demographics for workplace burn injuries. However, burns can happen when a surface gets too hot, an outlet shorts out, or even as the result of hot coffee. In almost all cases, the employer holds all financial responsibility if the injury happens on the job. However, in this instance, you will not sue your employer to recover damages. Instead, you will need to file a workers’ compensation claim
- Product liability: Did your toaster short out? Did your child’s new toy explode? Manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure their product is safe for use. When a defect or design flaw causes an injury, the manufacturer needs to pay for any damages.
- Premises liability: Premises liability covers a wide range of accidents. Was the water in your faucet hotter than you expected? There may be a plumbing issue your landlord failed to address. Was there a fire? One of the first things your attorney will want to check is whether the building is up to code and if the fire systems are up-to-date.
What are the different types of burns?
If you’ve ever had a burn, you’ve likely heard a few terms from friends and healthcare workers. When it comes to burns, doctors use levels of degrees to classify the severity of a burn. Most burns are either first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree.
What does this mean?
- First-degree: First-degree burns are minor burns and generally don’t require medical treatment. These are the burns you get when you touch a pot handle that is too hot or even a minor sunburn. These burns typically heal on their own and may present with moderate redness and pain for a few days.
- Second-degree: Second-degree burns are more serious than first-degree burns and usually require medical treatment. These burns affect the top two layers of skin and often involve blistering. Because the blisters may burst and become an open wound, these burns can result in subsequent infection.
- Third-degree: Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention. These burns go beyond the first two layers of skin and can cause numbness or loss of function.
In addition to degrees of burns, your healthcare provider will also look at the source of the burn. Not all burns are the result of heat or fire.
Other types of burns include:
- Chemical burns
- Electrical burns
- Radiation burns
What type of treatment should I expect after a burn injury?
The type of treatment you will need will depend on the severity and location of your burn. The more serious your injury is, the more invasive and prolonged your treatment will be.
Common burn treatment options include:
- Creams and ointments: This treatment is most effective for minor burns. These creams can help prevent infection and reduce healing time. If you do not require inpatient treatment, your doctor will likely send you home with a prescription to treat your burn at home.
- IV fluids: Severe burns may require intravenous fluids. Burn shock can lead to dehydration and even organ failure. A doctor will need to monitor this treatment to make sure there are no complications.
- Skin grafts: Skin grafts use your healthy skin to repair any damaged skin. In some cases, the doctor may use donor skin, but the patient’s own skin is usually the most effective.
- Rehabilitative services: Burns can cause extreme physical and psychological pain. Therapy, including occupational therapy and mental health counseling, can reduce recovery time and increase results.
- Plastic surgery: Reconstructive surgery can help improve appearance and function. When severe scars limit a patient’s range of motion, surgery can help. Plastic surgery can also help for facial injuries where burns prevent the patient from seeing, breathing, or talking.
What about complications?
Unfortunately, complications are common with burn injuries. This can increase recovery time and cost. Knowing this, it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and report any new or unusual symptoms to both your doctor and your attorney.
Some of the complications you may experience include:
- Fluid loss
- Loss of function or feeling
- Difficulty breathing
- Organ failure
A Florida burn injury claim can not only help you recover the costs of the initial injury, but also any subsequent issues that come up as a result of the accident.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Burn injuries fall under Florida’s personal injury laws. In this case, the statute of limitations (the amount of time you have to file a civil case) is four years. If you know you plan to file a lawsuit against the negligent party, it’s best to do so as soon as possible. Not only will this allow you to achieve a faster settlement, but it will also make sure your attorney has enough time to prepare your case.
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations. If the victim is a child or if you didn’t discover the truth about the accident because of fraud, the court may issue an extension.
How much is my case worth?
Burn injuries are expensive. So it’s normal to question how much you may recover. Unfortunately, the short answer is, it depends. Florida burn injury lawyers look at a lot of things, and any one of these factors can greatly affect the value of your case. However, there are a few things you can look at to try to figure out a rough estimate for how much your case may be worth.
- Medical bills: Burns are one of the most expensive types of injuries. According to care management group Paradigm, burn hospitalizations account for just 1 percent of all injuries every year. Yet they cost over $10 billion. A moderate burn can cost over $200,000, while a severe burn can result in over $10 million in treatment costs (without complications). The goal of a Florida burn injury suit is to recover all of these costs. This includes doctor visits, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages: Serious injuries can result in substantial recovery time. This may mean you need to take unpaid time off from work. When this happens, your attorney can request lost wages. Lost income covers the entire time you are gone from work and may include future income if you cannot return to work.
- Pain and suffering: Serious burns can cause excruciating pain, often requiring months or years of treatment. This is not just something you should deal with. Pain and suffering covers the physical and emotional anguish that results from an injury. This can include physical pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and embarrassment caused by disfigurement.
Will my Florida burn injury case cover future medical care?
Burn injuries are not minor injuries. In many cases, they require years of intensive treatment. However, the goal is often to settle your case early so you can pay for your care and focus on your recovery. In the case where extensive care is anticipated, your settlement should include a portion for future medical care. While you will not receive future payments, your initial settlement will likely include a lump sum amount intended for future treatment.
How do I pay my bills while I wait for my case to settle?
Unfortunately, some cases take longer to resolve than others. In the meantime, you may worry about how you are going to pay your bills. There are a few options. This includes:
- PIP insurance: Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents. If your injury is the result of a motor vehicle accident, you will have access to $10,000 PIP coverage right away to pay for your medical expenses.
- Your health insurance: The law does not preclude you from using your own personal health insurance after an accident. In fact, most providers will ask for your health insurance information as a back-up to any other form of insurance. If you file a Florida burn injury case, your health insurance provider will likely attempt to recover what they paid out from the at-fault party.
- A promise to pay: If you do not have the means to pay for your care, your attorney may draft a letter of protection promising to pay any outstanding balance once your case settles. It is up to each provider whether they choose to accept a letter of protection.
If you are worried about costs, do not delay or forego care. Contact your attorney to find out what options may be available to you.
Do I need an attorney?
When you talk to your friends or family, you’ll probably hear different responses about whether or not you need an attorney. The truth is, it’s impossible to tell until you actually sit down and talk to an attorney. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation. This means you can discuss your case and get an understanding of the best path moving forward without spending anything out of pocket.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies offer far less to victims who do not have an attorney. This alone can justify the cost of hiring an attorney. Additionally, you can expect your attorney to do most of the work. This allows you to focus on your recovery.
Some of the tasks your attorney will take care of include:
- Gather and present evidence.
- Talk to your doctors.
- Review your medical records.
- Defer payments.
- Talk to and depose witnesses.
- Negotiate with the insurance company.
- Represent you in court.
- Final billing and funds distribution.
How can I protect my rights after a burn injury?
One of the most important things you can do after an injury is to know your rights. In Florida, the law allows accident victims to seek financial compensation from the at-fault party. An experienced Florida burn injury attorney at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman can help you understand your rights and what the next steps are moving forward. Don’t wait to get the care you deserve.
Seek Help From Our Trusted Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
Whether your personal injury was caused by a car accident, workplace accident, a dangerous product, or other factors, you need an experienced burn injury attorney who will aggressively defend your right to compensation for your losses. Our friendly staff, highly skilled attorneys, and personalized service will help you through this difficult time. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today.