Burn injuries are among the most painful types of injuries that an individual can receive. They may have lifelong implications for the victim. Unfortunately, all too many burn injury victims find themselves struggling to get the legal and financial support that they need to recover from their injuries. If you’re a burn injury victim, you may have more questions than answers. At the Cagle Law Firm, we can help answer some of your questions and assist you with the claims process, so you can receive compensation for your injuries following your accident. Contact us today at (314) 276-1681 to learn more about how we can help.
The Cagle Law Firm: We Fight for Burn Injury Victims
When you suffer burns due to someone else’s negligence, you need an attorney who specializes in handling personal injury cases to ensure that you get the support you need. At the Cagle Law Firm, we have extensive experience with a variety of personal injury cases. Our attorneys cannot guarantee results in any case; however, we have achieved substantial past results that give us confidence in every single case that we accept.
Can You Afford a Burn Injury Lawyer?
Finding a personal injury attorney after an incident causing burn injuries may seem difficult. In fact, many people find themselves wondering if they can even afford an attorney in the aftermath of their accident. Instead, however, you should ask: What benefits can a burn lawyer offer? After your burn injury, a lawyer can offer important advantages.
- A lawyer can help you avoid accepting too little compensation for your injuries. Many people, after a burn accident, fail to secure adequate compensation because they accept an insurance company’s initial offer. An attorney can help you better understand the full compensation amount you should seek and how to break it down.
- A burn injury attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Does speaking with the insurance company fill you with stress and leave you feeling drained and out of sorts after every conversation? Handing that responsibility over to an attorney can lower your stress levels and make it easier for you to handle the other demands of your recovery. If negotiating with insurance companies is not what you do for a living, you should hire an experienced attorney.
- Provide valuable advice along the way. In the months and years after an injury, there are so many questions. Many people have questions about returning to work and the impact of their daily lives on the progress of their suit. Our attorneys assist clients in planning and gathering information. Your medical treatment is a plan developed by you and your medical team, determined by your doctors. Our attorneys help you through the process as far as processing information, requesting medical records, and assessing damages. It is a process, and everyone has questions during the process. Working with an attorney can give you the answers to important questions as they pertain to your specific case and issues. Again, since it is your case, you are very personally involved which is the exact reason you need an experienced attorney to bring their wealth of experience to the case and fight for your rights for compensation.
For many burn victims, an attorney is not a luxury but a necessity. A qualified personal injury attorney can help navigate the difficult claims process and increase the odds that the victim will receive full compensation for his or her injuries. Moreover, since we take our burn injury cases on a contingency fee basis, we only collect a percentage of any settlement or judgment we recover for our clients.
Burn Injuries: The Basics
Burns can happen quickly, with little warning, especially in cases of electrical burns or product defects. Burns may spread substantially before anyone can stop them. Understanding the type of burn you received can help you better understand the potential compensation that you can seek and your own path to recovery.
What Are the Different Levels of Burns?
Burns generally receive rankings of first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree.
- First degree burns involve pain and reddening of the skin. While even first degree burns can cause extreme pain, first degree burns typically involve only the first layer of skin, and they often heal without leaving significant scars. Scarring can occur after even a minor burn.
- Second degree burns involve both the epidermis—the outer layer of the skin—and the dermis—the lower layer of skin. Second degree burns include swelling and blisters as well as pain. Often, second degree burns are more painful than third degree burns. In some cases, scarring may result from second degree burns.
- Third degree burns go below the skin and may involve deeper tissues. Rather than simple blisters and redness, third degree burns may appear red, white, or black and charred. Often, in third degree burns, the area around the burn goes numb due to nerve damage.
- Fourth degree burns go beyond the skin alone. Fourth degree burns may destroy skin, as well as muscle and bone.
How Do Burn Injuries Occur?
Burn injuries can occur in a variety of different ways. Typically, when you imagine burns, you likely imagine heat source burns: either dry heat, like fire, or wet heat, like steam. In some cases, however, burns can come from other sources, such as:
- Electrocution burns, which result from electricity
- Chemical burns, which result from corrosive chemicals
- Flash burns, which occur during explosions
Burns may occur as a result of property negligence, improper maintenance of areas around bonfires, or workplace or construction hazards, including the improper handling of hazardous chemicals. Burns may also result from improperly created, maintained, or labeled products. Sometimes, auto accident victims suffer burns along with the rest of their injuries from the crash.
Handling a Burn Injury Claim
After your burn injury, you may have grounds for a legal claim, which means you can seek financial damages associated with your injuries. Understanding how to go about handling your burn injury claim and the answers to the most commonly asked questions about your injuries can help you better approach your claim and seek the resolution that you need.
Who Bears Liability for Your Burn Injuries?
After a burn injury, you may need to determine who caused your burns. You may acquire burns from many types of injuries; however, some of the most common causes include:
- Corrosive chemicals that a company did not store properly. If you suffered burns due to dangerous chemicals stored improperly, the company that failed to adhere to appropriate storage guidelines may bear responsibility for your injury. If, on the other hand, the company stored the chemicals properly and you chose to open them or entered an area you should not have entered, you may share liability for your injuries.
- Flash burns or heat burns from products. Did a product manufacturer fail to take burn hazards into consideration when designing its product? If so, the manufacturer or distributor of that product may bear responsibility for the expenses associated with the burns you received from the product. To hold the manufacturer or distributor liable, however, your use of the product may need to have complied with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Using the product outside such guidelines, especially if you failed to take note of warning labels, may shift liability back to you. If it is a failed product, save the product.
- Burns from auto accidents. Auto accidents, including motorcycle accidents and truck accidents, often cause substantial injuries. If a vehicle catches fire before you can escape, you may suffer burns along with the rest of your injuries. In this case, the individual who caused the crash may bear liability for your burn injuries, as well as for your other injuries stemming from the crash. The vehicle manufacturer may also share liability if defective parts or other hazards included in the vehicle contributed to the accident.
- Electrical burns. Electrical burns commonly occur around construction sites or due to poor construction. A construction company that fails to adhere to OSHA requirements concerning electrical hazards may bear liability for any burns that occur due to electricity in the area. The construction company may also bear liability if they improperly stall equipment or electricity. On the other hand, if you chose to horse around in an active construction area or to ignore safety requirements, you may share liability for your burns.
In most cases, consulting with a lawyer will help you more effectively determine the entities that bear responsibility for your burns. In some cases, you may find that several companies or entities share liability. In other cases, you may find that your personal negligence or irresponsibility contributed to the accident and may, as a result, reduce the amount of compensation that you can seek for your injuries.
What Compensation May You Seek for Your Burn Injuries?
After serious burn injuries, your expenses often increase quickly. Not only can you not return to work due to pain and, in many cases, the medications intended to manage your pain, not to mention continuing weakness, but also you may have many expenses associated with your recovery. Most burn victims include these common elements as part of their personal injury claims:
- Medical expenses. You may have rushed to the hospital in an ambulance immediately after your burn, especially in the case of third or fourth degree burns. The cost of your medical treatment and recovery may quickly add up. Severe burn victims may undergo long periods of hospitalization. Even if you can go home, you may need to return to the hospital or to a doctor’s office when your dressings need changing. You may need extensive surgeries to help repair the damage related to your burns, including skin grafts and plastic surgery. As your burns begin to heal, you may undergo physical therapy to help restore your full range of motion. You may need ongoing nursing care to help take care of you as you recover, or you may need to make modifications to your home or vehicle to make it easier for you to get around following your accident and during your recovery.
- Lost wages. Burn injuries often prevent their victims from returning to work, especially in the immediate aftermath of serious burns. You may struggle with any pressure against your bandages. Serious burns may keep you hospitalized for a long time as you recover. You may also take pain medications that make it impossible for you to enjoy your normal activities. The more time you miss at work, the more income you will miss. Lost wages can leave you struggling to pay your bills. Fortunately, you can include lost wages as part of your personal injury claim.
- Lost income potential. Burns may prevent accident victims from returning to work long-term. In some cases, that may mean permanently losing their ability to pursue employment in their chosen field, especially if they work in a highly physical field or a field like modeling or acting, where scarring may present a problem. If you lose your ability to work in your current occupation due to your injuries, you may seek compensation for that lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering. Burns often cause excruciating pain, not to mention the emotional anguish that can accompany scarring and disfigurement. Many burn victims suffer substantial mental stress if they are disfigured when it comes to being in public and in their private life. A lawyer can help you better define the extent of the suffering you’ve faced because of your burns.
How Do Insurance Companies Deal With Burn Claims?
When you suffer burns in an accident, you will typically file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. Ideally, that company would then provide full compensation for your injuries, preferably in the maximum amount the policy offers. Unfortunately, many insurance companies choose, instead, to use other tactics to help reduce their financial responsibility after an accident. For example, the company may:
- Offer you a low initial settlement. Often, burn victims need money in hand as soon as possible. They have medical bills to pay, and they may not return to work immediately after their accident. A low settlement, while providing immediate compensation, often does not offer the long-term compensation that you need to rebuild your life in the face of your injuries.
- Try to prove you contributed to the cause of the accident. If you bear responsibility for an accident, whether you contributed to the cause an auto accident or ignored a manufacturer’s warnings on a product, it may reduce or eliminate the compensation that an insurance company owes you.
- Try to claim you are less injured than you are. The insurance company may argue the prognosis of your treating doctor and may attempt to downplay the extent or severity of your injury. The insurance company may attempt to reduce its financial payout accordingly.
We know how to fight against these tactics and recover the fullest compensation possible under the law.
Choosing a St. Louis Burn Injury Attorney
Do you need a burn injury attorney in St. Louis? We can help. Call The Cagle Law Firm today at (314) 276-1681, or contact us online, to learn more about our services.