There are few injuries as painful and crippling as burn injuries. Severe burns typically result in long-term to permanent disabilities that can put people out of work, and require long-term, high-cost medical treatments to recover from. Fortunately, New York state has several laws in place to help victims of burn injuries get the compensation they need to cover medical costs, and wages lost while out of work.
This article will cover the state laws in place to help burn victims receive compensation for damages, and the crucial steps to take if you or someone you know is involved in an accident. But first, let’s go over what exactly constitutes a burn injury in the eyes of the New York judicial system.
Types of Burn Injuries
Medical professionals classify burn injuries depending on the type and severity of the burn. The following are the four major categories of burns:
- First-degree burns damage the outer layer of your skin alone and do not take long to heal.
- Second-degree burns damage the outer layer of skin and the layer beneath, also called the dermis. Skin grafts are sometimes needed for these injuries
- Third-degree burns are much more severe and destroy both layers of your skin. Other tissues, like hair follicles and sweat glands, are often affected as well.
- Fourth-degree burns are the most severe and include damage to deeper tissues like bone or muscle.
Regardless of the diagnosed severity, all burn injuries are painful and can cause immediate physiological and psychological trauma to the victim.
What’s more, compensation can be called for in the case of any type of burn injury. The more severe the burn injury, the more likely you are to receive a higher amount in compensation for damages, should you decide to file a personal injury claim.
Most Common Causes of Burn Injuries in New York (2004-2008)
A total of 13,296 burn injuries were recorded by New York state between 2004 and 2008. According to the same report, the most common causes of these injuries included:
● Hot Liquid (34.9%)
● Fires (24.1%)
● Contact with a Hot Object (13.5%)
● Cooking Accidents (13.1%)
● Other / Unreported (9.9%)
Burn Injury Laws in New York
Whether or not your burn injury was caused due to the negligence of another party (for example, if it occurred due to a car accident caused by another driver, or at work due to unsafe conditions) determines if you can bring a burn injury claim to court and seek compensation. In some cases, New York follows a “no-fault” law that applies to situations such as car accidents.
Burns Caused by Car Accidents
New York is a “no-fault” state, which means that any injuries caused as a result of a car accident – and requisite medical costs – are not to be applied to another driver. Insurance takes care of payments.
However, exceptions may be made in the case when clear negligence was the main cause of the burn injuries experienced by the victim or if the injuries were “severe.”
Burn Injuries Caused by Negligence
Victims with burns caused by the negligence of a third party and taking place outside of an automobile accident are always viable for lawsuits. These cases require that the victim and their burn injury attorney prove a certain level of negligence that the “at-fault” party is responsible for.
New York courts assign cost and compensation based on the appropriate percentage of fault each party is responsible for. For instance, if the at-fault party is decided to be 70% at fault, 70% of the claimant’s medical costs would be covered by the at-fault party. 30% would still be on the shoulders of the victim, however. This is why most burn injury victims hire an experienced personal injury attorney, who knows what it takes to negotiate these percentages to reach a settlement in your favor.
Workplace Burn Injuries
Many workplaces or professions are more vulnerable to burn injuries generally and sometimes to specific types of burn injuries. For instance, arc welders or construction workers around these machines are more exposed and vulnerable to electrical burns and chemical burns as a result of their work environment and the tools they use there.
However, even food service workers are vulnerable to burn injuries. A 2001 study showed that food service workers commonly have burn injuries resulting in a mean length of stay in the hospital at 12.8 days. Water and coffee? burns were the most common injuries, followed by oil, then soup or sauce burns. Most of the 2001 burns studied occurred on the extremities (i.e. hands and feet). Additionally, the study found that hospitalization of burn victims in the US cost an average $1.13 million per year.
If a burn injury occurs at work, worker’s compensation claims may be a viable option. Worker’s compensation for burn cases cover any incident where you’re burned while in the course of your normal duties. A skilled burn injury attorney, especially one with worker’s compensation experience, can tell you the best course of legal action in such cases.
Statute of Limitations for Burn Injuries in New York
It’s also very important to begin your personal injury lawsuit as soon as possible. New York has a statute of limitations of three years for burn injury cases, meaning that you only have three years to bring your injury case to court starting from the date of the accident, or the date that your burn was diagnosed by a doctor.
What To Do If You’re Injured From a Burn
The ideal course of action after you’ve been burned depends on the severity and type of burn injury you sustained. For instance, chemical burn injuries may or may not need medical attention.
However, it’s generally a good idea to seek medical attention soon after the incident in order to get an accurate diagnosis of your injury. Doing so is important to your health and, potentially, to your future law suit. Many chemical burn patients need mild medical care or a painkiller while their skin heals.
If you’ve been burned by scalding water (or hot coffee), you may suffer severe skin damage. Burn injuries sustained from extremely hot water should be treated immediately with ice water. A visit to a medical center or hospital may be necessary depending on burn severity.
Regardless of the cause of a burn, all second-degree burns should be bandaged and cared for with professional medical equipment. All third-degree and fourth-degree burns should be treated at a hospital or medical center as soon as possible.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Expect From a Burn Injury Case?
If your burn injury case goes to court, you will be assigned compensation according to several factors. These same factors also influence negotiations between your attorney and attorneys for those responsible for your injury.
If it’s appropriate to your circumstances, the court will examine any financial damages you have suffered as a result of your burn damage, including lost wages. They will also consider the damage to your personal property or any other expenses related to the cause of your burn. (For instance, if a fire set by another person also burned down some or all of your home).
The court will also consider damages directly relating to your medical bills as well as pain-and-suffering. Emotional distress, post-traumatic stress, and other intangible elements will be included in these considerations.
Finally, if the burn damage is considered to be “punitive,” additional compensation may be awarded to the victim. Punitive damages are included at the court’s discretion if it can be proven that the at-fault party’s actions were egregious or reckless.
New York Burn Injury Attorneys
Burn damages can be damaging to one’s quality of life and finances. That’s why having top-tier New York burn injury attorneys for your burn injury case is not only a good idea: it’s necessary.
Sobo & Sobo attorneys have decades of experience in this area of law. They can help you press a claim against an at-fault party and receive the compensation you need to recover from your medical bills and emotional turmoil as soon as you give them a call. Contact them for a free consultation and see how they can help you!
Phone Number: 855-468-7626