If you have suffered a burn injury in the Bronx because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional conduct, you deserve compensation for the expenses and impacts caused. The Bronx burn injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond can help. For a free case evaluation with Mr. Diamond, contact him online or by calling (718) 588-2000.
Each year, approximately 1.4 million people in the United States sustain burns. One of the most frequent causes of burn injuries is accidental fires; however, there are other sources of burns that many people do not readily think about. Burns are defined by their depth: a first-degree burn is the least serious and a fourth-degree burn is the most serious.
When there is injury to organic tissue that is primarily caused by heat or due to electricity, radiation, radioactivity, friction, or after coming into contact with a chemical substance, the injury sustained is referred to as a burn.
Why do I need an attorney for my Bronx burn injury case?
The legal process to recover for a burn injury is complex, but one that an attorney with experience and knowledge in bringing claims for burn injuries can help you navigate.
An attorney can provide:
- A free case evaluation that can provide you with guidance as to your legal options, an opportunity to get answers to the questions you have about your case, and to determine if you would like to continue working with the attorney
- A convenient contingent-fee payment scheme designed to ensure that anyone who needs a burn injury lawyer can afford one. Contingent-fee arrangements allow for an attorney to be paid using a percentage of any award or settlement, meaning you might not incur any costs for your lawyer’s services unless and until there is a successful outcome to your case.
- A determination of all potential sources of liability, including insurance resources that
- An estimated valuation of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have incurred and likely will incur as a result of your injury
- Timely filing of all court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction, and representation at all critical stages of your case, from pre-trial appearances to a final evidentiary hearing
- Collecting and organizing evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your case
- Negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to garner a fair settlement offer
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
Types of Burns
- Thermal heat burns include contact burns, scalds and flame burns.
- Electrical burns are caused by some type of an electrical source.
- Cold temperature burns develop when skin is exposed to windy, wet and/or cold conditions.
- Radiation burns can be caused by X-ray machines, tanning beds/UV lights and radiation therapy.
- Chemical burns can occur after contact with industrial or household chemicals: These chemicals may be in the form of a liquid, a solid or a gas.
- Friction burns can develop after contact with any hard surface, including carpet, the road or a hard floor. It is not uncommon for an individual riding a bicycle or motorcycle to sustain friction burns (including abrasions) during an accident.
Recognizing First-, Second-, Third- and Fourth-Degree Burns
A first-degree burn is superficial and only affects the epidermis (top layer of skin). The injured area appears dry and red.
A second-degree burn affects the epidermis and the dermis (top two layers of skin). This type of burn appears red and blistered. Inflammation may be present and pain is likely. Second-degree burns should be assessed by a physician to determine severity. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics, medication and/or give the individual a tetanus shot.
A third-degree burn is serious and requires emergency assistance. This type of burn may cause the site to appear charred or white. The ultimate goal following this type of burn is to keep the victim from going into shock. This can be accomplished by having the victim lie flat, placing his or her feet about 12 inches above the heart (if possible), and covering the victim with a blanket. Both second-and third-degree burns have the potential to leave serious scars or cause some type of disfigurement.
A fourth-degree burn penetrates through all layers of the skin and begins burning the underlying ligaments and muscles. The nerve endings have been destroyed; therefore, the victim will have no sensation in the injured area.
Healing Timeline for Burns
First-degree burns typically heal within a week and do not result in scarring. Second-degree burns usually heal within two to three weeks. Healing time for third- and fourth-degree burns varies; however, these do take a very long time to heal and scarring is likely.
Scarring generally develops within three months of the burn, peaking at around six months. The scar will ‘mature’ within 12 to 18 months. As a scar matures, it usually fades, becomes softer and flatter as well as less sensitive.
Itching in the damaged area is common: This itching occurs because a burn can destroy the oil glands responsible for keeping the skin from becoming too dry.
Liability for Burn Injuries
If an individual is severely injured due to an accidental fire, liability may fall on the person responsible for starting the fire or who caused a fire to go out of control. For example, if a fire occurs due to an unsafe workplace, the corporation may be liable for the injuries an individual sustains. A manufacturer may be at fault if a product has a defective part that leads to a fire or releases some type of chemical that results in burn injuries. If a landlord fails to follow the current fire codes and/or neglects to provide tenants with an accessible fire escape, he or she may be held liable for injuries sustained during a fire on said property.
What damages can I recover through a Bronx burn injury lawsuit?
New York allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. The term “damages” refers to a payment made to compensate a victim for monetary, physical, mental, emotional, and other kinds of harm. “Economic damages” refers to a tangible monetary amount representing expenses incurred due to an injury.
Expenses often included in economic damage calculations:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property that was damaged in the accident
“Non-economic damages” refers to an intangible monetary amount representing the cost of other harms. Harms often included in calculating non-economic damages:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
These lists are not exhaustive, and you should consult an attorney to determine all of the costs and harms caused by your burn injury for which you may recover damages.
How do I obtain compensation for my Bronx burn injuries?
New York law allows those who have suffered burn injuries as a result of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional actions to recover damages through a burn injury lawsuit. This lawsuit is a legal claim filed against a wrongdoer, or wrongdoers, in civil court. Claimants generally must file within three years of the date on which the accident occurred to preserve their claims.
A claimant who can prove at trial that a defendant is responsible for causing the burn injury may recover compensation, the amount of which depends in part on the expenses and impacts of the injury. However, the vast majority of cases do not go to trial, and the claimant instead recovers by entering into a settlement agreement with a defendant.
Personal Injury Damages - Punitive and Compensatory
Punitive damages are not awarded in every case and are only considered when a defendant’s conduct is considered especially outrageous. These damages are not meant to compensate the victim: They are designed to penalize the defendant for causing the victim’s injuries. Thus, deterring others from similar behaviors.
The goal of compensatory damages is to return the victim to the condition he or she was in prior to the injury. To attain compensatory damages, a dollar amount must be placed on the injuries the victim sustained. In addition, these damages are designed to restore, or come as close as possible to restoring, the victim to his or her physical, financial and emotional state prior to the incident.
Compensatory damages are usually divided into two categories:
- damages to compensate victims for their monetary losses; and
- damages meant to compensate victims for their non-monetary losses.
Monetary Losses include medical expenses, cost of living changes due to a disability, property repair or replacement, lost wages and funeral expenses: Funeral expenses would be awarded to the family of a personal injury victim who did not survive as a result of the injuries he or she sustained.
Non-Monetary Losses include damages for the pain and suffering an individual experienced due to the burn injuries he or she sustained. This compensation may also include damages for emotional distress (e.g., anger, fear, loss of enjoyment and frustration). A spouse may request compensation for certain emotional and intangible elements of a marriage. These elements may include a loss of affection, comfort and companionship.
Every day in the Bronx, people suffer from burn injuries due to others’ misconduct. Burn injuries can lead to serious complications, often including scarring or disfigurement. If you have suffered a Bronx burn injury as a result of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional actions, you can pursue compensation for your injuries through a burn injury lawsuit. Here are answers to some of the questions my Bronx burn injury clients most frequently ask.
I suffered a third-degree thermal burn. What does that mean?
A thermal burn is a burn caused by a heat source, such as hot metal, an open flame, hot liquids, or even steam. It is one of several types of burns a person can experience.
Other types of burns include:
- Radiation burns, which can result from overexposure to the sun, as well as from other sources of radiation, including radiation therapy treatments for cancer and tanning beds.
- Electrical burns, which are the result of an individual coming into contact with an electrical source.
- Friction burns, which result from the skin making contact with a rough surface. The contact causes the top layers of skin to be sloughed off. This type of burn often occurs in bicycle and motorcycle accidents and is commonly referred to as road rash.
- Chemical burns, which result from the skin coming into contact with acids, solvents, and detergents.
My Bronx burn injury was the result of a car accident. Will my PIP policy cover my expenses?
As one of a handful of no-fault insurance states in the nation, New York requires drivers to purchase a personal injury protection (“PIP”) policy with a minimum policy limit of $50,000 to register their vehicles in the state.
Such a policy typically provides coverage, up to the policy limits, for:
- Most medical expenses
- Wage loss of up to $2,000 a month or 80 percent of your monthly earnings, whichever is less
- A one-time death benefit of up to $2,000 to be used for funeral and burial or cremation costs
Your PIP policy is a great resource to more quickly recover medical, wage loss, and other covered expenses, as it allows you to file a claim on your own policy and deal with your own insurance provider. However, PIP policy limits are insufficient to meet all medical expenses necessary to treat severe burn injuries. Even if you have used your PIP policy to cover your early expenses, you can still file a burn injury lawsuit and seek compensation for additional expenses and impacts beyond what your policy covers.
To recover compensation after a car accident in New York, you must prove that your injuries meet the statutory definition of “serious injury” to bypass the no-fault insurance system and file a burn injury lawsuit.
Those injuries meeting the serious injury definition include:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- A permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent limitation on the use of a body organ or member
- A significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- A non-permanent injury or impairment which prevents one from performing substantially one’s usual daily activities for more than 90 days in the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury
An attorney can advise you if your burn injuries meet the state’s serious injury definition and qualify you to seek compensation through a burn injury lawsuit. Our office can also help you recover as much of your PIP benefits as possible.
Why would a Bronx burn injury result in future medical expenses?
Severe burns, generally including those in the third or fourth degree severity levels, have a high likelihood of complications that will require on-going treatment.
Some of the complications one can experience from a burn injury include:
- Bacterial infections that leading to a bloodstream infection known as sepsis
- Breathing problems from the intake of hot air or smoke
- Scars or ridged areas on the skin, known as keloids, caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue
- Bone and joint problems, such as from scar tissue shortening and tightening the skin, muscles, or tendons around a joint
Burns are categorized in degrees of severity, as follows:
- First-degree burns: These are the mildest burns, often resulting only in painful or red skin that does not blister. First-degree burns only impact the epidermis, which is the top layer of skin.
- Second-degree burns: A second-degree burn, also known as a partial-thickness burn, affects the top two layers of skin, known as the epidermis and the dermis. This burn severity level will produce pain, redness, swelling, and blistering of the skin, and often also causes the skin to look shiny and wet.
- Third-degree burns: Also known as full-thickness burns, this burn severity level results in the destruction of the top two layers of skin and can also affect the tissues beneath. A third degree burn often looks charred, whitened, or black. Generally, a burn this severe will not cause pain as the nerve endings have been damaged.
- Fourth-degree burns: Fourth-degree burns not only destroy the skin, but also burn the bones, muscles, and tendons beneath it.
How do I prove who is liable for my Bronx burn injury?
You may recover damages from anyone you can prove is liable—legally responsible—for causing your burn injury.
To prove that someone is liable for your injuries, you must produce evidence showing:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on how that party caused your injury. However, everyone generally has a duty to act safely and legally, as would a reasonable person in that same role in similar circumstances.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care. “Breach” refers to actions the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care owed.
- The breach caused your burn injury and subsequent expenses and impacts.
What if I was partly responsible for the event that caused my Bronx burn injuries?
It is actually common for more than one person to be liable for an event causing a burn injury, and even for the injured person, to share in the responsibility. In New York, if you are partly responsible for an accident that caused your burn injury, you can still file a burn injury lawsuit. However, the amount of your recovery may be reduced to some extent, depending on how much responsibility you bear.
How are the non-economic damages in a Bronx burn injury calculated?
All impacts a burn injury has on a person’s life should be considered a major consideration when determining damages in a burn injury case. While these impacts are not as immediately measurable as, say, lost wages, being seriously injured can change every facet of a person’s life, including their ability to work, manage personal care tasks independently, and enjoy hobbies.
The more severe your burn injuries, the more your non-economic damages. The total economic damages and non-economic damages are added together to arrive at a case value.
Is my Bronx burn injury settlement taxable?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the settlement or award you receive for your burn injury may or may not be taxable, depending on all the facts and circumstances of the case. For example, you generally will not be taxed for the amount of your recovery allocated for physical injuries and sickness, the expenses for which you did not claim a tax deduction in prior years.
However, you may owe tax for any amount allocated as punitive damages for physical injuries and sickness. Punitive damages are sometimes allocated in cases in which the defendant’s injury-causing conduct was particularly egregious. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for such behavior. The IRS directs that such damages be reported as “Other income” on line 2b of form 1040.
Burn Injury Lawsuit Settlements
Stella Liebeck vs. McDonald’s: The Hot Coffee Lawsuit
This is probably one of the most famous lawsuits involving burns in the United States. Stella Liebeck purchased a cup of coffee from McDonald’s. She placed the coffee between her legs and as she attempted to remove the lid, the coffee tipped over, pouring the coffee onto her lap. McDonald’s had previously been warned that their patrons were sustaining scald burns because the restaurant was serving its coffee at 180 to 190 degrees (a scald can occur at 130 degrees). Prior to Ms. Liebeck’s injury, 700 people (including infants) had already sustained scald injuries related to the temperature of the coffee.
Ms. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body. She remained hospitalized for eight days and underwent various treatments. She was disabled for two years following the incident. Despite her extensive injuries, Ms. Liebeck offered to settle for $200,000; however, McDonald’s refused her offer and the case went to court. The jury awarded Ms. Liebeck nearly $3 million in punitive damages (for the callous and willful conduct of McDonald’s). However, the trial judge reduced the jury’s award to $480,000. Eventually, the parties chose to settle out of court for an undisclosed amount.
Porter vs. Rexburg, Idaho
Paramedics arrived at the home of the Porter family in Rexburg, Idaho, to find a mother with her previously delivered newborn baby (Londyn) in her arms. The paramedics placed the baby in the ambulance. To help Londyn retain her body heat, she was wrapped in a foil blanket and surrounded by heat packs. Londyn suffered second-degree burns to her right leg and buttocks. Upon arrival to the hospital, she was sent to the neonatal intensive-care unit. Her burns were scrubbed every day for six weeks. Since she was premature, physicians were only able to provide her with Tylenol prior to removing the dead skin and treating her burns.
Londyn’s parents filed a lawsuit requesting $100,000 and payment of Londyn’s medical bills. The parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Part of the settlement includes a “Londyn Porter Policy,” which requires sufficient training for fire department personnel on the use of heat packs.
Contact a Bronx Attorney
Following any type of injury, seeking medical treatment essential. If you believe you have sustained injuries due to the negligence of another, contact The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond today at 718-588-2000 or call us toll-free at 877-960-1702. Your initial consultation is free. In addition, we know how difficult things can be following an injury: For this reason, Bronx Attorney Ivan M. Diamond offers weekend and evening appointments, as well as in-home and hospital visits.
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