In the United States, there are over 3 million burn injuries every year.
Severe burns can happen in a wide variety of ways involving not only fire and scalding liquids but also chemicals, electricity, and even radiation. They can be life-altering and can cause severe loss to those who suffer them, as well as their loved ones. The damages that burns inflict on the body – both physical and mental – cannot always be seen at first glance. Therefore, it is important for victims of negligent burn accidents to speak with an attorney about pursuing a claim. A Houston burn injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP has extensive experience counseling people who have been injured in a burn accident caused by another person’s negligence.
What is a burn injury and what are the signs
A burn injury is an injury that typically occurs when combustible substances come into contact with your skin. This can happen in a variety of ways, including through the use of items like open flames or hot liquids. Burns are classified in four different types:
First-degree burns are the least severe and only affect your outer layer of skin. This type of burn typically heals within a couple of weeks or months, but it could take a year for the injured area to return to its normal appearance. These types of burns usually don’t cause scarring.
Second-degree burns have more severe effects and will go a bit deeper than first-degree burns. This type of burn is often found on the arms, legs and face. This injury can affect your tissue and muscles – which means it could take a long time for you to heal from second-degree burns. In addition, they will leave scars after healing has been completed.
Third-degree burns are more severe than first- and second-degree burns. They affect the deeper layer of tissue that contains blood vessels and muscle fibers. These types of burns can cause more damage, pain, scarring and disfigurement.
Fourth-degree burns are the most serious type of visible burn injury – they extend through all layers of your skin and can result in permanent tissue damage.
If you suffer a burn injury, it is extremely important to make sure that you are receiving the appropriate care. Prompt medical treatment usually reduces your risk for developing complications in addition to providing immediate relief from pain and discomfort. Speak with a doctor to determine what type of treatment is best suited to your needs.
How to pursue a claim if you have been injured by someone else’s negligence
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, there are some steps that you can take to ensure that you are compensated for what has happened. First, document the injury. Speak with a medical professional about the severity of the injury so they can write an accurate report. If this was not taken on scene or if your injury is severe enough that it would require hospitalization, then try to get a copy of your medical records. After speaking to a burn injury attorney, they may investigate on their own and inquire with witnesses who were present at the time of the accident about what happened. If there was a property damage assessment made because of the accident, gather all related records and documents. Depending on state law, you may need to give written notice within a certain time frame about your intention to pursue a claim.
The process of pursuing a claim, including the steps that will happen before your case goes to trial
It is possible to pursue a claim against the negligent person who caused your injury. There are many steps that have to happen before your case goes to trial. It’s best to speak to a lawyer about the process so you know how it works.
1. Report the incident
If you are able to report it yourself, do so as soon as possible. Otherwise, someone else will have to report it. For example, if the injury happened at work or in a public place with witnesses, those people should have reported it already. Your attorney might contact them later to find out what happened.
2. Conduct an investigation
Your attorney will talk with you about what happened and collect evidence that supports your side of the story. This may include photos, medical records, witness statements, video surveillance tapes, etc.
3. File a lawsuit
In some cases, this will happen right away, while in others it might take a little time to build up the case. There is no downside to filing a lawsuit as long as the statute of limitations has not expired. An attorney can advise you on the applicable statute.
4. Negotiate with the opposing party
The purpose of this stage is to try and reach an agreement that resolves the dispute to each party’s satisfaction. This can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, etc.
If no agreement is reached during negotiation, then both parties prepare for trial. Both sides hire lawyers and start gathering evidence and witnesses to support their side of the story. The judge or jury will ultimately decide who was responsible for causing your injury.
5. Reach a verdict at trial
If it ends in a victory, you’ll receive compensation based on the circumstances surrounding your claim. If it is a loss, you can appeal the decision.
If negotiating and going to trial doesn’t seem worth the effort or if you don’t have the time or funds to pursue a claim, then you might be able to receive compensation through an insurance company’s settlement offer. In this case, your attorney will contact the insurer and try to work out an agreement. This might essentially end your claim or allow you to file a lawsuit later.
Why it’s important to speak with an attorney about your legal rights as soon as possible after suffering from a severe burn injury
It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after suffering from a severe burn injury because of the potential for insurance companies to refuse coverage or provide inadequate payments or medical treatment for your injuries. A Houston burn injury lawyer will ensure unfair tactics by insurance companies can be countered.
You should seek an attorney as soon as you have been released from any necessary medical treatment, no matter how minor the burn, because it’s possible that your rights may have already been violated. Insurance companies may attempt to take advantage of burn injury victims who do not immediately seek an attorney for legal advice.
It is important to remember that filing a lawsuit against someone after suffering from a burn injury may be the only way to activate your rights under insurance policies. Insurance companies are often more receptive to paying claims when they are presented with documentation of a lawsuit being filed. If you wait longer than two years following the date of the burn injury before seeking an attorney, however, you may be unable to file a claim.
How insurance companies may use tactics against you when pursuing compensation for injuries caused by their negligent behavior
Insurance companies may claim that the injury was due to your own carelessness and not their negligence. They may also claim that you’ve failed to comply with the terms of the insurance policy and demand a refund for any benefits or payments paid.
If you suspect that the insurance company is trying to take advantage of your situation, contact an experienced burn injury lawyer as early as possible. A Houston burn injury lawyer can help provide proof that the insurer is to blame and give advice on how to proceed.
Insurance companies can also argue that damages are not possible. For example, if your injury leaves you with severe scarring or disfigurement but doesn’t affect your ability to work or carry out day-to-day tasks, your claim may be challenged by the insurer. But a Houston burn injury lawyer can help you develop a strong case and can maximize the amount owed for the injuries themselves, and prove that you have experienced difficulties as a result of your injuries.
Consult a Houston Burn Injury Lawyer
While pursuing a claim after being injured by someone else’s negligence may seem daunting, it is important to know that you have the right to pursue compensation for injuries caused to you. It can be difficult when insurance companies use tactics against you in order to avoid paying what they owe. If you suspect an insurer might be trying to take advantage of your situation, contact a Houston burn injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP for a free, confidential consultation as soon as possible so they can help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.