Maryland Burn Injury Lawyer
Burns are among the most excruciatingly painful, disfiguring, and emotionally devastating of all types of injuries. Some fires and other causes of burns are entirely accidental, for example, fires caused by lightning strikes.
But in many cases, fires and the injuries they cause, along with other types of accidental burns, are preventable, the result of negligence, carelessness, and sometimes even deliberate acts of arson.
Every year, approximately 486,000 people seek medical treatment for burn injuries, and 3,275 people die from fire-related injuries, including smoke inhalation, according to the most recent figures from the American Burn Association. One fire death occurs every two hours and 41 minutes (excluding firefighters and emergency personnel).
Not all burns are caused by fires; in fact, fires are responsible for only about 43 percent of all burn injuries. Other causes are scalding (34 percent), contact with a hot surface (9 percent), electricity (4 percent), chemical contact (3 percent), and various other causes (7 percent).
How Burns Are Classified
Burns are classified in several ways.
By degree or depth:
- First-degree or superficial burns, which affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis
- Second-degree burns, which involve both the epidermis and the dermis, the second layer of skin
- Third-degree or full-thickness burns, which destroy the epidermis, the dermis, and underlying tissues such as muscles, tendons, and bones
By surface area affected:
- Minor burns affect less than 10 percent of the body in an adult or less than 5 percent of the body of a child or elderly person. A full-thickness burn is classified as minor if it affects less than 2 percent of the body.
- Moderate burns affect 10 to 20 percent of an adult’s body or 5 to 10 percent of a child or elder’s body. Full-thickness burns are considered moderate if they affect 2 to 5 percent of the body’s surface.
- Major burns are those that affect more than 20 percent of an adult’s body surface or more than 10 percent of a child or elderly person’s body. Any full-thickness burn that affects 5 percent or more of the body’s surface is considered a major burn.
Who is Responsible for Burn Injuries in Maryland Accidents?
The responsible party, in your case, will depend heavily on how the accident happened. Burn injuries that happen because of a defective or dangerous product can often be blamed on the product manufacturer, allowing the victim to sue.
If the accident involved defective wiring or broken systems on someone’s property, it is usually the property owner’s fault unless they can point to negligent work done by an electrician or contractor that caused the injuries.
Other burn injuries are caused by accidents like car crashes or boating accidents that lead to severe burns. These accidents can be held against the responsible driver or operator who caused the crash.
Accidents at work can involve electrical burns, chemical burns, or heat burns. Whoever caused the accident could be responsible, as could the employer who was supposed to supervise the work activities, a safety gear manufacturer whose gear was ineffective at preventing injury, or some other negligent party who started the fire.
Damages for Burn Injury Victims in Maryland
If you sustained serious burns in an accident, you could be entitled to substantial financial compensation. The damages that you faced in your case will depend on the specifics of your injuries and the effects they have on your life.
Many people face expensive medical bills because of burn injuries. Burns are often treated with skin grafts and other procedures, which can be expensive and painful.
Burns involving the limbs and digits can often require extensive physical therapy, especially if the burn injuries caused muscle damage or loss of limb.
Therapy can last for a long time, requiring ongoing payments to cover these damages. The cost of medical equipment, such as prosthetics, can often be included as well.
Pain and Suffering
The damages that you can claim can also involve pain and suffering damages. These damages pay for the physical harm you faced, even though there is no good way to assign a dollar value to this experience.
“Suffering” can also include mental and emotional experiences, such as the anguish of looking at your scars or the pain associated with the social stigma around visible burn scars. Jurors often award higher damages to women, young people, and unmarried people for visible burn scars.
If your burns affect your ability to work, you could also be entitled to claim damages for lost wages and lost earning capacity. Not being able to go back to work because of substantial burns can hurt your ability to support yourself and your family.
It could also mean that you cannot afford your medical bills, creating a downward financial spiral. Fortunately, these damages are often one of the central damages you can claim in a burn injury case.
When to Talk to a Lawyer About Burn Injuries in Maryland
The law in Maryland gives victims up to 3 years to file an injury claim under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 5-101. However, it is usually crucial for an injury victim to talk to a lawyer well in advance of this deadline.
The earlier you speak to a lawyer, the earlier we can begin building your case. Not only will we be able to investigate what happened to you and help determine who was responsible, but we can also help track damages and medical expenses to make sure that your claim accounts for everything.
When you wait to speak to a lawyer, there is often a delay in locating or talking to witnesses that could hurt your case. Additionally, evidence – such as photos of where the burn happened or the burned structures where you suffered injuries – cannot be collected because the scene of the accident has been cleaned up.
When you or a loved one calls a lawyer early in the case, they can promptly begin working on your case in the background while you focus on your recovery.
Additionally, your attorney can make sure that your case is being filed in the right way against the proper party. Maryland has workers’ compensation rules that often prevent victims from filing lawsuits against their employers for work injuries.
These laws do not stop victims from suing negligent equipment manufacturers, coworkers, or other parties responsible for their injuries. Lawsuits against the government also have unique rules and restrictions.
If at any point you learn that your case is filed against the wrong parties or through the wrong systems, it may need to be refiled. If you waited too long, there might be no time left in the 3-year period to draft documents and get them filed on time.
All in all, it is better to talk to a burn injury lawyer earlier in the process rather than delay. Get help with your case as soon as you can.
Burn Injury Complications Can Be Deadly
Serious burns may reduce blood flow to the affected area, which can cause life-threatening complications:
- Infection (the complication causing the most deaths), including staphylococcal and streptococcal bacterial infections, and sometimes, fungal infections
- Sepsis, which is a massive immune response to bacterial infection that has entered the bloodstream
- Organ failure (often the result of sepsis)
- Shock, which occurs when organs receive too little oxygen and waste products accumulate
- Respiratory difficulties often result from smoke inhalation, including tracheitis, bronchitis, alveoli injury, and pneumonia.
- Gangrene, which is the death and decomposition of an area of body tissue as a result of infection or loss of blood circulation
Serious Burn Injuries Often Cause a Lifetime of Suffering
Many burn injury survivors face months and even years of painful treatment, including debridement, skin grafting, and other surgeries. In addition to burns, many patients also suffer respiratory problems caused by smoke inhalation.
More than 60 percent of those hospitalized with burn injuries are treated at burn centers, as most hospitals are not equipped to provide the intensive and highly specialized care these injuries require.
Although these centers are saving the lives of more burn victims than at any other time in history, the lives many victims face after discharge are often of a diminished quality. In addition to chronic pain, or as a complication of it, sleep and mood disturbances are common, as is social isolation when burn scars are on parts of the body that are visible to others.
Physical, occupational, and psychological therapy is often needed to help burn victims adjust to their limitations and altered appearance.
Even with the most up-to-date specialized treatments, serious burn injuries almost invariably leave unsightly scars and skin contractures.
These disfigurements can be emotionally traumatizing, especially when they occur on the face or any area of the body not usually covered by clothing.
Burn scars on any part of the body may cause the victim to feel self-conscious and reluctant to participate in intimate relationships or other activities that would show the disfigurement―swimming, for example.
Furthermore, a burn victim may never be able to return to work because of physical impairments and/or emotional problems.
Call Our Maryland Burn Injury Attorneys for a Free Case Consultation
Serious and catastrophic burn cases are difficult, complex, and often emotionally draining. You will need to engage the services of a personal injury attorney with experience pursuing high-value settlements and verdicts and a track record of successful recoveries.
In the Baltimore area, you will find the top-quality legal help you need when you contact Randolph Rice Injury Lawyers today. Randolph Rice is a practiced negotiator who can often settle complex cases out of court, but when insurance companies for defendants balk at the large payouts required when injuries are severe, he is a highly skilled trial lawyer who will be fully prepared to present a meticulously prepared and persuasive case to a jury on your behalf.
Call the Baltimore personal injury attorney team of Rice, Murtha & Psoras today to schedule a free case consultation. You have no upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses, and will only pay us after we win money for you.