What Constitutes a Burn Injury Case?

Thousands of people suffer burn injuries in Chicago and throughout Illinois every year and hundreds more are killed. A burn is a type of injury to the skin caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction. Burns can be complicated by shock, infection, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, electrolyte imbalance and respiratory distress.

Large burns can be fatal, but modern treatments, developed in the last 60 years, have significantly improved the prognosis of such burns, especially in children and young adults. If you were injured, or someone in your family was killed, you have a right to a lawyer and seek compensation from the person or persons responsible for the harm of your burn injury case.

Burn Injury Due to Negligence Of Others

A burn injury occurs when a victim comes close to a flame, hazardous chemicals, hot objects, exposure to radiation and electrocution. Burn injuries have serious consequences which can result in paralysis, damage to hearing, disfigurement and at times even spinal cord and brain injuries. In extreme cases, burns can cause a wrongful death to an individual. Normally, in burn injury cases, the expenses are astronomical and can easily be in the millions of dollars.

David K. Kremin & Associates and its affiliated law firms are skilled in this area. We understand how traumatic it is to have a burn injury. Burn injury damages are significant in that they include substantial payment of medical bills. It is important to find appropriate experts and specialists to deal with the physical and emotional consequences of injuries to a burned victim. There is normally compensation for loss of wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and more so than not, serious disfigurement to the person’s body.

Each year in the United States, approximately 2.5 million burn injuries are reported. The reports also indicate that over 10 thousand burn victims will die, while millions may suffer significant or permanent disability due to the injury. Unfortunately, burn victims suffer long and painful struggles which require significant treatment and rehabilitation.

Most injuries caused by burns is disfigurement to the skin, which often results in body chemistry and organ damage. When burn injuries are suffered, the severity of the burn will depend on which layer of the skin becomes damaged or destroyed.

Burn injuries can be caused by many situations, and in many circumstances due to negligence of others. For example, below are some causes of burn injuries:

  1. Hot liquids;
  2. Steam and other intense heat;
  3. Ultraviolet light contact;
  4. Chemical exposure;
  5. Contact with radiation;
  6. Contact with nuclear radiation or ultraviolet light;

There are different degrees of burns. First degree burns involve the first layer of skin. When the first and second layers of skin are burned, this is called second degree burn. The most serious burns are third degree burns. This is where all layers of skin and underlying tissue is seriously damaged. Common causes of burns include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Inhalation of dangerous fumes;
  2. Fireworks;
  3. Defective appliances, such as water heaters and barbeques;
  4. Chemicals at work or home, such as drain cleaners;
  5. Defective smoke detectors;
  6. Scolding from spilled food or liquids;
  7. Defective industrial products;

The burns not only damage the skin, but the nerves are extremely damaged. Burn injuries affect the skin’s ability to prevent loss of body fluids, so burn injuries can lead to dehydration. Burns also regulate the body’s temperature. Not only do burns severely injury the body’s function, but they often and drastically alter a person’s appearance resulting in permanent scars and most likely will result in mental and psychological problems.

Burn Victim’s Laywers

Stella Liebeck, a 79 yr. old and passenger in her nephew’s car bought a cup of coffee for .49 at the drive through window of McDonalds in Albuquerque, Mexico. As she placed the cup between her legs to remove the lid and add cream and sugar, she spilled the coffee, burning her herself. Liebeck sued McDonalds claiming the coffee was too hot, and the jury awarded her $160,000.00 to compensate her for her injuries and 2.7 million to punish McDonalds.

This is the most famous case of what some believe is “lawsuit abuse”, and argued by advocates of tort reform as they seek to revamp our system of civil liability which is known as tort law. Everyone knows coffee is hot and if you spill it, you can burn yourself, but no one is going to accept the consequences of an everyday accident, say tort reformers. Instead judges and juries have run amuck in allowing plaintiffs to pass their misfortune on to someone with a deep pocket.

Meanwhile, defendants of tort law, view the best case as evidence of how well the tort system works. McDonalds has received over 700 complaints over the temperature of the coffee served and has settled many of these complaints, for which it paid $500,000.00. The company served its coffee at a temperature 20 degrees hotter than its competitors, a temperature of which its managers admitted it was too hot to drink immediately and hot enough to cause burns. Liebeck was in the hospital for a week with third degree burns requiring skin grafts. Initially, she was willing to settle the case for her medical expenses, but McDonalds refused. The Jury figured 2.7 million was the amount McDonalds made from two days of coffee sales, so they used that amount as the punitive damage award. The Jury also found that Liebeck was partially responsible for her injuries, because she was not careful. They reduced the damages awarded to her and the Judge further reduced the punitive damage award to $480,000.00. Only after this case and the resulting publicity did McDonalds reduce the temperature of its coffee. Here the tort system worked, if defenders say “wrongdoers were forced to compensate an injured victim into remedying a dangerous conduct.” The case also includes other potential dangerous conduct; The Wendy’s chains reduced the temperatures of its hot chocolate, served mostly to children.

For several hundred years, courts and legislatures have been working out tort principles that determine when is someone is responsible for someone else’s injuries. Proponents of a tort system say that cases like Liebeck’s show how well the system works, and any change should come from a continuation of a century’s old process of step by step development. Tort reformers say things have gone too far shifting responsibility away from the individuals and posing costs on blameless defendants, so drastic legislature changes are needed. Before we can decide to either maintain or revamp the system, however, we need to understand what tort law is all about.

If you incurred a burn due to someone’s negligence, contact the lawyers at David K. Kremin & Associates at 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800) 275-2529.