A severe burn injury can be extremely painful and disfiguring and, in the worst cases, can leave you with a permanent disability. If you’ve suffered a burn injury due to another party’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation under the law.
The San Jose burn injury lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP, represent burn injury victims on a contingency basis. That means you don’t have to pay out of pocket for representation by an experienced burn injury lawyer. Call today for a free consultation and immediate representation.
Types of Burn Injuries
The following is a brief overview of the types and classifications of burn injuries. If you’ve been burned in an accident, your physician will use these terms to classify your injuries.
This is a burn due to a high heat source, like a fire, hot metal, etc. The high temperatures cause instant cellular death.
A radiation burn can be caused by the sun, a tanning bed, an x-ray machine, or another source of ultraviolet rays.
This occurs when a chemical comes in contact with the skin and begins killing cells. These can be caused by harsh chemicals, like acids, bases, certain types of detergent, or solvents. In commercial truck accidents and train derailments we sometimes see gaseous chemicals or chemical fires burning skin and eyes, even though the burn victims never come in direct contact with the leaked chemicals.
Electrical current can cause cellular death when a human comes in close contact with an exposed wire or electrically charged item. This might also occur when an accident victim touches an electric fence with inadequate signage.
Classifying Burn Degrees
The medical and legal community classifies burns in terms of severity. It’s helpful to refer to the following schematic of the human skin for the purpose of burn classification.
- First-degree Burns – These are superficial burns that only affect the outer layers of the skin. Most first-degree burns heal without medical care. You can compare a first-degree burn to a moderate sunburn.
- Second-degree Burns – If the epidermis and part of the dermis are damaged, the burn is classified as a second-degree burn. This is often characterized by painful blistering and eschars that may require skin grafts or plastic surgery.
- Third-degree Burns – These are severe burn injuries that not only damage all of the epidermis and dermis but may also destroy tissue in the muscles and tendons and damage bones. Third-degree burns almost always require extensive skin grafts, plastic surgery, and extensive wound and medical care. In most instances, burn victims only make a partial recovery from the injuries caused by third degree burns
- Fourth-degree Burns – These are catastrophic injuries that are life-threatening in many cases and require burn victims to undergo extensive medical treatment and physical therapy if they are treatable at all. The most severe and potentially life-threatening burn is a fourth degree burn. Fourth degree burns are the highest degree of burn. They affect all layers of the skin, muscles, tendons and even bone.
It is possible to be diagnosed with different levels of burn injuries from the same accident. For example, in some burn injury cases, the victim has third-degree burns near their hands and forearms and second-degree burns on their face and chest. This might indicate that the arms were closer to a thermal energy source than the body and face.
Causes of Serious Burn Injuries
The causes of San Jose burn injury accidents are numerous. Here are some of the types of accidents that our law firm has identified in the cases we handle:
- Car Accidents – When a car catches on fire, anyone trapped inside may experience severe burn injuries. However, even in a minor car accident, the victim is sometimes scalded with hot beverages.
- Restaurant/To-Go Food – Hot soup is often improperly wrapped for take out purposes and may spill when transporting it from the restaurant to homes. In food delivery situations, the food may have been jostled and the lid can come off when receiving or unloading delivered food. Finally, food server error has resulted in many spills and burns.
- Truck and Train Accidents – Commercial carriers often carry explosive or toxic chemicals. As was previously mentioned, truck accidents sometimes result in chemical spills and fires that can release toxic chemicals causing burns to the eyes, mucous membranes, and lungs.
- Workplace Accidents – These are common sources of burn injuries in San Jose, where improperly labeled chemicals, exposed wiring, etc., are often to blame for severe burns.
- Product Liability – Any product that generates heat is a potential source of burns. Defective protective devices are also a source of burns. Defective and inadequately labeled products are another source of personal injuries.
- Tanning Beds – These devices use UV radiation to increase the production of melanin in the skin. Excessive use of tanning beds or defective devices can result in a serious burn injury.
- Premises Liability Accidents – The owners of properties are responsible for ensuring the safety of visitors and guests. Wires should be capped and secured, dangerous chemicals have to be labeled and kept in secure containers, etc.
If you suffered burns due to a negligent party, Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP, can help you. Talk to a San Jose burn injury attorney today.
Compensations for Burn Injuries
Under California law, these are the types of compensation available for a burn injury claim:
You can recover compensation for all financial outlays related to your burn injury claim, including all medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc. In a wrongful death case, you can also seek fair compensation for any medical expenses accrued prior to the death, future lost wages that the deceased would have earned, funeral expenses, and more
Burn injuries can be painful and disfiguring. Non-economic damages — also referred to as pain and suffering — seek to compensate burn injury victims for their physical pain, emotional trauma, disfigurement, etc. Starting in 2023, injuries that result in death over a period of time, like can happen in serious burn injury cases, pain and suffering can be awarded in addition to economic damages.
In some burn injury cases, the negligence was so egregious that it is considered reckless and if found to be “ the result of despicable conduct that disregarded the rights and safety of others’ the burn injury victim should be awarded additional damages to penalize the defendant and prevent similar conduct from occurring again in the future. These are referred to as punitive damages.
California has no damage caps for personal injury claims other than in medical malpractice cases. This allows your San Jose burn injury attorney to pursue full compensation from the at-fault party.
How to Determine Liability for Burn Injuries
In order to obtain compensation from the liable party, a San Jose burn injury lawyer will attempt to determine if the following four elements exist:
1. Duty of Care – Did the defendant have a responsibility for the safety of the other party? For example, did a restaurant properly put the lid on and package scalding hot soup for a to-go order?
2. Breach of Duty – A burn injury lawyer must prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. In the above example, a breach would occur if the lid was improperly secured or if the packing was not sufficient to protect against spills.
3. Causation – In order for there to be a viable personal injury claim, the defendant’s breach of duty must have caused the accident. Did the soup spill because of the lid not being secured, or did the patron try to eat from the container while driving and spill the soup when driving over a bump in the road.
4. Damages – Plaintiffs can claim for medical bills arising from surgical procedures and other medical care, lost income from missing work, physical pain, and emotional trauma from permanent scarring and hair loss that was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
When You Should Call the Burn Injury Lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP
Whether you’ve been injured from a fire, an electrical accident, a chemical spill, or some other event, our San Jose burn injury attorneys can review your case, and help you recover compensation. Contact the San Jose personal injury lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP for a free case consultation where we will discuss the legal process and the details of your case.