Survivors of explosions, fires, and caustic chemical spills are often affected by extensive, difficult-to-treat injuries that make the future uncertain. The immense challenges can be physical, emotional, and financial, as victims try to deal with complex injuries and additional complications, such as:
- Fractures and other injuries from the force of a blast
- Smoke inhalation injuries, like scarring in the lungs, vocal cord damage, and breathing problems
- Skin infections and complications when burns cover large areas of the body
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional suffering and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Pain and disability
- An inability to continue working
- Extensive medical treatments, rehabilitation, and therapy bills that collect over a period of months or years
- Financial instability through loss of work and medical costs
If you suffered burns in an accident caused by someone else's carelessness, you have important legal rights. Most of the time, the only way you can protect your legal rights and recover damages is by filing a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties.
How an attorney can help you after a fire, explosion, or burn accident
Burn injuries are some of the most difficult cases to handle. Not only are the injuries often very severe, requiring expensive medical treatment, but the evidence needed to prove who was responsible may have been destroyed. While these kinds of challenges make burn accident cases more difficult to resolve quickly, you should know that it isn’t impossible. An experienced attorney who has successfully handled these types of cases will be able to help you by:
- Investigating the scene of the fire. An attorney with experience handling burn accidents cases will know what to look for and can investigate the scene of the accident, get a temporary restraining order to ensure access for investigators, and preserve any evidence found.
- Gathering evidence. Evidence can include everything from information about what caused the fire to your medical records for treatment. An experienced attorney will be able to identify and gather needed evidence, as well as investigate further to find video recordings of the accident, evidence of past accidents or failed safety inspections, and other evidence to support your case.
- Determining the value of your case. An attorney will look at all the evidence in your case to determine the monetary value of your losses including the medical treatment you received, what kind of medical treatment you will need in the future, how much work have you missed, and how your injuries have impacted your life. An attorney can also identify potentially responsible parties and help you manage your bills while your case is pending.
- Hiring the right experts. This might include doctors, industry safety experts, economic experts, scientists who study fires and explosions, and other experts that can help support your claims and prove the extent of your injuries.
- Knowing how to successfully argue your case. An attorney will also look at the various regulations that govern fire and explosion cases like yours. These details, along with all of the facts about what happened, strengthen your case by helping to prove negligence and why you deserve to be compensated.
Getting the maximum settlement for your burn injury
There are many factors that affect the amount of damages you can be awarded for your burn injury claim. The first thing an attorney will look at is the cost of your medical treatment. In a lawsuit involving burn injuries, your compensation is largely based on the type and severity of burn injuries you sustained.
If you have a meritorious case against the liable parties, they would be responsible for paying your medical bills for as long as you continue to see doctors, even if you need to see doctors for the rest of your life. The only requirement is that your doctor's report shows that the medical treatment is related to your burn injury. If, according to your doctors, you need ongoing medical treatment for your burn injury, your attorney should arrange for you to be seen and examined by a "life care planner." Experts in this field can help determine what kind of medical treatment you need for the rest of your life and how much it will cost. Many times, this lifetime medical cost will reach multiple millions of dollars.
If your injury has resulted in a significant hardship, a jury may also decide to award you further compensation. For example, additional damages might apply if your injury involved:
- Negligence. If your accident was caused by another person’s negligence, such as a reckless driver or an unsafe work environment, you could be awarded additional damages.
- Disfigurement. Many times, a fire will cause permanent disfigurement. In Texas, like most other states, an injured person is entitled to compensation for "disfigurement." This includes the types of disfigurement that can be caused by burns.
- Loss of mobility. Many people will suffer a reduced range of motion after their burn injury is healed, affecting their future earning potential.
- Pain and suffering. Your attorney may argue that the particulars of your injury will affect you psychologically and physically for the rest of your life.
In general, the more serious the injury and its impact on your life, the more compensation you will be entitled to receive. Cases involving fourth-degree burns, certain types of inhalation injuries, and wrongful death usually generate the highest amounts of compensation, but every burn injury case is different. The only way to know how much you could receive for your burn injuries is by speaking to an experienced attorney for personalized legal advice.
Types of burn injury claims
Explosions and fires at work
Whether you work in the field, in a chemical plant, on an oil platform, construction site, or even in an office, the threat of fires and explosions in the workplace is real. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fires and explosions have claimed lives in three percent of fatal work accidents.
Fires and explosions at work can be triggered by many different things. Some examples of typical causes might include:
- Machine-generated sparks
- Vehicle accidents
- Faulty wiring or equipment
- Poorly maintained workplaces
- Improper handling or storage of dangerous materials
- Inadequate safety training
- Flammable gas leaks
- Pipeline explosions
- Well explosions or fires
- Lightning strikes
- Intentional acts of vandalism
While the fire or explosion alone—regardless of the cause—can be catastrophic, how it is handled in the immediate aftermath can also be a factor. Problems with safety routes, fire extinguishers, ventilation systems, and sprinkler systems can cause further death and injury after a blast or blaze, especially if access to life-saving items is obstructed.
When an employer, a supervisor, a coworker, a contractor, an equipment manufacturer, or another party fails to prioritize safety, injured workers may be able to hold them responsible for what happened. Workers have a right to a safe workplace and when they are hurt in preventable accidents, our work injury attorneys help protect their rights, get answers, and get the compensation they deserve.
Burn injuries caused by defective and dangerous products
Consumer products are held to certain government and industry safety standards. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set forth standards for burn resistance and fuel-line integrity that apply to most vehicles on the road. However, although these kinds of standards exist in almost every industry, defective products continue to cause serious and fatal injuries every year.
If a defective product caused your burn injuries due to faulty wiring, poorly designed equipment, or malfunctioning safety systems, the manufacturer could be held liable. These cases generally involve companies with extensive resources to fight your claim and require a careful and thorough investigation by experienced attorneys. If you believe your burn injuries were caused by a dangerous product defect, don’t wait any longer to talk with an attorney. Our attorneys can help you protect your legal rights and by reporting the defective product, you could be saving countless others by helping to get the product recalled.
Burn injuries in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
There are many ways that someone can be exposed to severe burns in a wreck, including:
- Direct contact with fire
- Contact with hot metal and other surfaces
- Contact with hot liquids or steam
- Chemical burns, such as in accidents with 18-wheelers carrying hazardous materials
- Electrical burns from vehicle systems, powerlines, or other electrical exposure
If your burns resulted from a collision with another vehicle, the driver or other responsible parties could be held legally liable. These cases can be especially complicated since other serious injuries are often involved and maximum insurance limits can limit the ability to recover the full costs of necessary medical treatment. Our attorneys help victims of car, truck, and motorcycle accidents obtain fair compensation and have extensive experience with complicated cases of multiple and catastrophic injuries.
What to do after suffering burn injuries in an explosion or fire
Here are some important steps you should take to protect yourself and get the care you need:
- Seek immediate medical attention and follow your doctors' orders.
- Make a note of precisely where you were located when the accident occurred.
- Make a note of exactly how you were hurt in connection with the accident.
- Refuse to give any kind of recorded statement at this time. It will most definitely be used against you later.
- Refuse to sign any forms at this time. Company representatives and insurance adjusters are skilled at getting you to sign papers that will ruin your legal rights.
- If you have any pictures or videos of the accident site before or after the explosion or fire, keep them in a safe place.
- If you have any pictures or videos of the explosion or fire as it happened, keep them in a safe place.
- Contact an experienced attorney to determine if you have a case and protect the value of your claim.
- Find out why you were injured by investigating the cause of the explosion with an experienced attorney.
Contact VB Attorneys to talk to a lawyer for free
Vuk Vujasinovic and Brian Beckcom, the founding partners of VB Attorneys, are both board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our law firm has helped accident victims in Texas and around the nation get the compensation they deserve; often against large, national employers and insurance companies.
If you have questions or feel overwhelmed, we will answer your questions for free, and with no obligations.
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