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San Bernardino residents have an especially high risk of wildfires—we can likely recall the numerous forest fires in San Bernardino National Forest in recent years.
Fires and other accidents can result in serious burn injuries that result in long, painful, expensive treatments. Years ago, however, a person who had burns covering half the body often did not survive. Now, thanks to advances in medical treatment, people with burns covering 90 percent of their bodies can survive, though they may suffer from permanent impairments and scars. Surviving any type of burn can be a devastating, painful, and costly experience.
If you have suffered a burn injury, consult an experienced San Bernardino burn injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys to discuss your legal options.
According to the American Burn Association (ABA), every year, over 450,000 serious burn injuries occur in the United States that require medical treatment. Many of these injuries are the result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another party. Up to 10,000 people in the United States die every year of burn-related infections. In one recent year, California was number one in the list of top 10 states at high to extreme wildfire risk.
When people think of burn injuries, they usually think of fire. However, there are many possible causes of burns. Contact with flames, hot liquids, steam, and other forms of intense heat leads to thermal burns.
They often result from fires, auto accidents, and household accidents.
These different types of burns can occur from a range of different types of accidents. For instance, a car accident could cause a person to sustain a radiological or chemical burn if a hazardous truck was involved, or the individual suffered a thermal burn from contact with ignited gasoline or a car’s heated metal frame.
A burn injury damages not only the victim’s skin, but in some cases, also damages deeper tissues, muscles, and bones. Burns are defined by how deep they are and how large an area they cover. A large burn injury is likely to include burned areas of different depths. The victim’s pain levels, treatment, and recovery depend largely on the cause and severity of the burn.
The primary classifications, or degrees, of burns, include:
If you go to a doctor for burn treatment, he or she will assess the severity of your burn by examining your skin. The doctor may advise treating minor burns at home, but treatment for serious burns may involve wound dressings, medications, skin grafts, and therapy. The goal of treatment is to prevent infection, remove dead tissue, minimize scarring, regain function, and control pain levels.
People with severe burns may require treatment at specialized burn centers. They may need skin grafts. Burn injuries may lead to visible scars, and can cause emotional and psychological trauma. Many people also need long-term follow-up care and emotional support. Burn injury treatment is very expensive, costing well over $200,000, even for a moderate injury. Severe burn injuries can cost $1.5 million or more. Complications could cause the cost to exceed $10 million.
Treatments may include:
Burns are considered catastrophic injuries. They can result in serious, life-altering conditions and disfigurement.
Physical complications may include:
Other common complications from burn injuries may include:
A burn injury lawsuit may allow the victim to seek money damages for physical injuries and financial losses in a San Bernardino civil court. However, there is a time limit to how long the victim has to file a claim. Legal theories often used in burn injury lawsuits include:
Negligence. Negligence “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.“ The injured person must prove that:
Product defects. When a defective product causes a burn injury, the company that produced or sold the product may be liable for damages, even if no individual person was negligent. Product liability laws seek to protect consumers from dangers, defects, or malfunctions that cause harm. In California, the law regarding dangerous or defective products is strict product liability. This means that a person or entity who designs, manufactures, or distributes the defective product is strictly liable for any injuries that result when the consumer uses the product in a reasonably foreseeable way. These laws may be applied if there are manufacturing defects, design defects, or warning defects.
Premises Liability. Property owners throughout San Bernardino, residential and commercial alike, have a duty of care to maintain their property in a safe condition, make needed repairs, and/or give adequate warnings about any hazards. If a burn accident happens on someone else’s property due to a dangerous condition, the property owner may be liable for damages.
If someone is injured at his or her worksite, or during the performance of work duties, they usually receive compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim. With workers’ comp, the employee does not have to file a lawsuit or prove negligence. However, in some specific circumstances, the employee may file a San Bernardino burn injury lawsuit.
In a San Bernardino burn injury lawsuit, the injury victim is looking for money to pay for their losses caused by the accident. In California, compensatory damages for an accident or injury fall into two basic categories:
Economic damages are those that the court can calculate by reviewing records or documents, such as medical records, or lost wages.
They include money the injured party has spent out-of-pocket, or money they will have to pay in the future, such as:
It is harder to put a price tag on non-economic damages, but the harm is still real and painful.
They can include money damages to cover the injured person’s losses, such as:
In some specific sets of circumstances, a plaintiff can also sue for punitive damages.
Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are intended to punish the perpetrator, but they are generally limited to cases where the defendant’s actions were:
If a fire or burn injury accident kills someone, the victim can no longer file a San Bernardino burn injury lawsuit on their own behalf. Instead, certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit will allow the surviving family to receive compensation and hold the perpetrator accountable.
In most cases, family members who are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
The money damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
Burn injuries are often catastrophic. You may require surgery, painful treatments, medication, and years of therapy. Your entire life may be altered, and your quality of life diminished. No amount of money can make up for the pain and loss associated with this severe type of trauma. If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury, you should consult a knowledgeable, experienced San Bernardino burn injury attorney as soon as possible. For further information or a free consultation, call Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 or contact us online.
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