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Burn and Fire Injury Lawsuits

Accidents involving thermal burns, chemical burns, electrical burns, and radiation burns leave victims with painful physical and psychological wounds. Victims are also left with life-changing circumstances such as expensive medical bills and lost wages.

 

Burn and fire injuries could be the result of someone else’s negligence and injured victims deserve fair compensation. Victims of such negligence must contact an experienced burn injury lawyer to ensure that they are appropriately represented in court. The burn injury lawyers from KBA Attorneys have years of combined experience fighting for personal injury victims and winning compensation for their clients’ pain and suffering. Various situations can cause these types of injuries, and whether it is a negligent landlord or work accident, our professional attorneys will hold the negligent parties liable.

Burn injury victims can contact KBA Attorneys for a free case evaluation and learn about receiving compensation for physical, financial, and emotional personal injury.


What Causes Burn and Fire Injuries?

Situations in which people have been injured in a fire or burned include:

Workplace hazards - Dangerous working conditions could lead to various types of burn injuries. Factory employees and construction workers use equipment every day that could cause fires and burns. A restaurant employee may even get burned from hot surfaces in the kitchen.

Defective products - Due to design defects, products can potentially overheat or catch on fire and cause damage to the user. The products most likely to cause burns are those that use batteries or combustible materials.

Car accidents - When there is a serious car accident, there is a high risk of the car’s gasoline igniting and setting the entire vehicle on fire. Passengers and drivers in car accident fires could suffer severe or fatal burns.

Truck accidents - Fuel tanker truck accidents could cause massive explosions that would be fatal to any person within the blast radius. This explosion could cause a chain reaction of explosions and fires from the surrounding vehicles.

Gas and fuel explosions - Any situation where natural gas, propane, or other types of fuel are used could cause an explosion or fire. These situations include propane tanks, gas pipelines, gas furnaces, and water heaters.

Chemical accidents - These types of accidents are commonly mistaken to occur only in science labs, however ordinary household products such as bleach, pool chlorinators, teeth whitening products, and concrete mix all have the potential to cause chemical burns.

Apartment fires - Fires in apartment buildings are caused by cooking accidents, arson, faulty fire alarms, unattended fires (candles & smoking), heating devices, and electrical issues. A large number of apartment fire injuries are because of negligent landlords not maintaining a safe living environment.

Hotel fires - Fires in hotels are caused by negligent hotel staff and owners, cooking mistakes, and faulty fire or smoke alarms. Hotel owners often fail to take proper safety precautions for fires.

Scalding injuries - These types of injuries involve hot liquids or steam and cause deeper damage than burns from dry heat. Scalding injuries are caused by high-temperature water from showers, baths, faucets, and high-temperature liquids from hot beverages. 

Faulty electrical system - Electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical systems such as exposed live wires, faulty outlets, old appliances, overuse of a power source, broken light fixtures, overuse of extension cords, and defective heaters.

Arson - Willfully setting fire to property is a crime that is fully punishable by the law. This malicious act could lead to severe or fatal burns of innocent people.

Provided that the correct level of fire safety is applied, many fires can be prevented. In some cases, burn and fire accidents involve someone else’s negligence. Some of the factors that increase a person’s level of risk from these hazards include:

  • Faulty fire alarms
  • Failure to replace batteries on fire alarms
  • Improper use of fire security

Different Types of Burns

Thermal Burns
These types of burns occur when a person comes into contact with an external heat source. This contact will cause the temperature of the skin and tissue to rise, resulting in tissue cell death and charring. Thermal burn injuries occur when a person touches:

  • Fire or flames
  • High-temperature water or steam
  • High-temperature objects (pots, pans, or heating devices)

Scalding Burns
These types of burns are similar to thermal burns but only include burn damage caused by high-temperature water or steam. It is common for children or the elderly to experience scalding burns. A scald is damage caused by something wet. High-temperature steam is known to be more injurious to the skin than boiling water since steam carries more heat energy. Scalding burn injuries occur when a person touches:

  • High-temperature water (tap water, showers, baths, and hot beverages)
  • High-temperature steam (steam pipes and boiling water)

Radiation Burns
These types of burns are caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun or other radiation sources such as x-rays. Radiation burns are different from other burn types because these burns will alter the cell structure of the body and cause cell mutations or cancer in some cases. A common type of radiation burn is radiation dermatitis which is caused by radiation treatment for cancer.

Chemical Burns
These types of burns are caused by exposure to harmful substances such as strong acids, detergents, alkalies, and solvents. Contact with these chemicals and the skin or eyes can be hazardous and often require special treatment. Chemical burn injuries occur when a person comes into contact with substances such as:

  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Lime
  • Silver nitrate
  • Lye

Electrical Burns
These types of burns are caused by electrical sources. The human body is a natural conductor of electricity and contact with an electric current allows a strong jolt to enter and harm the body. Electric currents can cause severe damage to internal organs, tissue and muscles, and have long-term adverse health effects. Electrical burn injuries occur when a person comes into contact with:

  • Live wires
  • Overused extension cords
  • Faulty outlets
  • Electrified water
  • Faulty electrical equipment

Different Levels of Burn Injuries

First-Degree Burns
This burn classification only affects the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin. Most cases of first-degree burns do not require medical treatment and will heal on their own within about a week.

Symptoms of first-degree burns include:

  • Redness
  • Minor inflammation and swelling
  • Peeling skin
  • Irritation

Second-Degree Burns
This burn classification affects the epidermis and part of the dermis, which is the thick layer of tissue below the epidermis. To avoid infection and scarring, second-degree burns must be treated by medical professionals. Severe second-degree burns may require skin grafts.

Symptoms of second-degree burns include:

  • Blisters on the skin
  • Different degrees of pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Deep Redness
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • White or discolored skin

Third-Degree Burns & Fourth Degree Burns
This burn classification is associated with severe damage to the epidermis and the dermis. In some cases, third-degree burns damage tendons, muscles, and bones. Some classify severe cases of third-degree burns as fourth-degree burns. Victims of third-degree burns should seek professional medical treatment as soon as possible since skin grafts are required with this level of burn. Third-degree burns have the potential to be life-threatening and many patients experience lifelong complications.

Symptoms of third-degree burns include:

  • Loss of sensation (nerve endings are destroyed)
  • Dry, leathery, and peeling skin
  • White, yellow, or red skin discoloration
  • Black or brown charred skin
  • Hypovolemia (low blood volume)
  • Hypothermia
  • Burn shock

Workplace Burn Injury

Some workers face a high risk of burn injuries. Researchers found in a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that workplace fires and explosions are responsible for more than 5,000 burn injuries a year. Any employee who experiences a burn injury in the workplace is entitled to workers’ compensation, however, in order to receive this benefit, the injured employee will not have the right to sue the employer. Another option is to take legal action by contacting an attorney and file a burn injury lawsuit.

An experienced attorney will be able to assist victims with legal proceedings and advise on the best possible options for compensation. The injured employee will be able to file a lawsuit against the liable parties and seek damages to compensate for any medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


Fire in the Apartment Complex?

The causes of fires in apartment buildings vary as residents share a building with others and any residents could start a fire. Most apartment complex fires can be traced back to the kitchen as cooking and cooking equipment are the two leading causes of fire injuries and deaths. A 2017 report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) on the leading causes of home fires found that cooking-related fires were responsible for 45% of injuries and 48% of deaths. If a fire starts in another tenant’s kitchen and spreads throughout the building, then all other tenants must face the same consequences of an apartment fire. In some cases, one resident may lose more to the fire than the resident who started the fire.

Other significant causes of apartment fires are smoking, candles, and heaters. According to the NFPA, smoking is the number one cause of deaths related to home and apartment fires and 1 out of 5 deaths at a home involved a heater.


Keeping Tenants Safe

Landlords could be the responsible party liable for a burn injury, and they will do everything in their power to pay the lowest settlement amount to burn and fire injury victims. Based on federal law, landlords have a responsibility to their tenants to keep them safe from fires, and a failure to take the necessary precautions could lead to wrongful death and injury. If a landlord fails to follow the rules and someone gets injured or hurt as a result of it, having a burn and fire injury lawyer will ensure that victims get the rightful compensation they deserve. An experienced burn injury lawyer will hold those responsible for the fire accountable.


The Responsibilities of Your Landlord

Landlords have a responsibility to follow certain codes with tenants in their apartment buildings. If they put someone at risk for potentially life-threatening injuries, they could be held financially responsible for their negligence. There are a couple of different scenarios where a person can hold landlords accountable for their actions.

  • Landlords can be held accountable if they fail to clear all fire exits. They have to have a safe and sturdy fire escape that you can flee from in the event of a fire. In addition, they have to make sure that all fire alarms on the property remain in working order. 
  • Landlords need to install fireproof doors and have fire extinguishers on the property that get serviced regularly. 

A failure to follow through with these obligations as a landlord can leave them legally vulnerable, and this can lead to an injury in the event that there is a fire.


Negligent Landlords Are Common

It has become common for landlords to shirk their responsibilities to the tenant. The law will govern the placement of fire alarms, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers. A failure to follow local, state and federal laws could lead to a burn injury lawsuit in which a person’s landlord must pay damages to the tenant. Not every landlord has taken these laws seriously, and unfortunately, tenants often suffer the brunt of the injury when landlords fail to follow through.


Defective Fire-Safety Products

Landlords are required to follow the law and specific fire safety obligations, however there may be instances where the landlord has followed the safety laws but the equipment ends up failing. This would be considered a defective device lawsuit.

Manufacturers of defective fire-safety products can be held accountable for selling devices that did not perform as intended. If a fire-safety device fails to function properly, then a person’s home, apartment, and family will be at a higher risk of fires and burn injuries. The equipment may fail when it is needed most and knowing whether or not a device functions properly usually only occurs after a fire accident. Victims of defective fire-safety products can file a lawsuit against the manufacturing companies for compensation that will supplement the cost of damages.

Most recently, ionization smoke detectors have been known to be ineffective when detecting slow-smoldering fires. Ionization smoke detectors are the cheapest type of smoke detectors but are the most commonly used in households. These products have been banned in Massachusetts and in all military housing.


Contact a Burn Injury Lawyer

If you were injured in a fire or burned due to the negligence of someone else, KBA Attorneys would like to help. We have the right experience and understanding to ensure that you receive the deserved amount of compensation for your pain and suffering. Holding someone legally accountable for their actions comes from knowing the different laws and if your landlord violated any of these laws immediate action is necessary.

References
  1. M.A.H. Mian, R.F. Mullins, B. Alam, C. Brandigi, B.C. Friedman, J.R. Shaver, Z. Hassan. "Workplace-related burns", Annals of burns and fire disasters, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230153/#B1. Accessed March 1, 2019.
  2. NFPA. "Home Structure Fires", National Fire Protection Association, https://www.nfpa.org/News%20and%20Research/Data%20research%20and%20tools/Building%20and%20Life%20Safety/Home%20Structure%20Fires. Accessed March 1, 2019.