Fire and Burn Injury Lawyers Boston
Deaths from burn injuries or smoke inhalation in residential fires are one of the leading causes of death in homes in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”). In 2015, 1,345,500 fires were reported with nearly 3,280 civilian fire deaths and 15,700 civilian fire injuries, with almost $14.3 billion in property damage. In addition, every day, more than 300 children, from newborns to teens, are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries. Some suffer catastrophic injuries, others become fatalities due to the severity of the trauma. Such tragedies, while often occurring in homes, can also take place in industrial and commercial settings, at construction sites, and may gas or electrical explosions, as well as product failures.Navigating the Legal Issues Involved in Fire and Burn Injuries
After suffering the physical and emotional damage of a fire or burn injury, navigating the potential legal claims to recover compensation can seem daunting. The Boston fire and burn injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz are here to help. This article discusses the common causes of burn injuries, provides some useful statistics regarding fire and burn accidents, describes the classification of burn injuries and associated treatment outcomes, explains the types of legal claims that can be brought, the legal services that are available and the types of compensation that can be awarded, and how choosing experienced fire and burn attorneys like the lawyers at Swartz & Swartz is critical to ensure preservation of a victims’ rights, including the recovery of all expenses and damages available when someone else’s negligence causes harm.Common Causes of Burn Injuries
Set forth below are the most common causes of fire and burn injuries:
Home and Apartment Fire: Home and apartment fires can be caused by several things, including electrical appliances, fireplaces, cigarettes, candles, heaters, and defective products. If the underlying cause of the fire is due to someone’s negligence or a defective product, the homeowners may file claims to recover any damages to the property, and accident victims may also file claims for compensation for any injuries sustained.
Negligent Landlord Fire Issues: Landlords have specific obligations with respect to the tenants in their rental homes. Such obligations include installing smoke alarms, having fire escapes and electrical wiring in compliance with codes, and maintaining escape routes in common areas. Two key landlord responsibilities are:
Smoke Detectors: Installation of properly working smoke detectors is the landlord’s responsibility. The National Fire Protection Association requires a smoke detector outside sleeping areas, plus one inside each bedroom. In addition, the type of smoke detector is relevant. Recently, the effectiveness of ionization smoke detectors has been questioned due to alleged failures in detecting slow-smoldering fires in a reasonable amount of time – as a result, such devices have been banned in Massachusetts.
Fire Extinguishers: The landlord is also responsible for keeping the required number of working fire extinguishers on the property. State and local municipal codes set forth the amount and location of required fire extinguishers.
In the event a fire is the result of the landlord’s failure to uphold these and other obligations, fire and burn injury victims may file claims against the landlord to recover for their losses and injuries.
Workplace Fire and Burn Injuries and Burn Injuries Sustained at Work: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) estimates that there are over 5,000 burn injuries from workplace fires each year. Employees injured in a workplace fire may seek redress through workers’ compensation claims and/or through lawsuits against the responsible third parties. Workers that suffer fire and burn injuries in the workplace should immediately contact an attorney to discuss their legal options for compensation, as they must make critical decisions regarding the coverage offered under workers’ compensation claims shortly after the incident occurs, and must also take steps to preserve evidence in the event a third party shares responsibility for the incident.
Electrical Burn: Electrical burn claims typically involve a faulty electronic product or faulty electrical wiring, representing a defective condition that results in burn injuries to the user. These lawsuits may be filed against the manufacturer responsible for creating the defective product, or the person that installed, maintained or serviced the faulty wiring.
Chemical Burn: Wherever toxic chemicals are present, there exists the potential for chemical fires. Injuries from chemical burns can be severe and extensive, and victims may file claims against responsible manufacturers, distributors, or contractors to seek damages compensation.Fire and Burn Injury Statistics
Some statistics illustrate just how frequently fires and burn injuries occur. As stated, burns and smoke inhalation are a leading cause of home deaths in the United States. In total, approximately 2.4 Million burns are reported every year, with 650,000 burn injuries being treated by hospitals and 75,000 burn patients requiring hospitalized. Of those burn victims hospitalized, 20,000 have major injuries damaging at least 25% of their total body area. Between 8,000 and 12,000 patients with burn injuries die, and approximately one Million will incur significant or permanent disabilities due to the injury severity.
Children and elderly people are the most vulnerable to fire and burn injuries. In fact, burns and fires are the most common cause of accidental types of death in the U.S. home for children fourteen years of age and under, and the third leading cause of accidental death for all adults. For children as young as infants, scalding is the major precursor to burn injury deaths, and represent 40% of the burn injuries for children up to age 14. Older adults also have an increased risk - the U.S. National Burn Information Exchange statistics show that people older than sixty have an increased risk of burn injury. In addition, the age class most likely to be killed in a house fire are adults over age 75.
On the employment side, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over 41,000 heat-related burns occur on job sites every year. A breakdown of these types of accidents indicates: 16,500 retail burn injuries, 9,500 manufacturing job burn injuries, and 8,600 service industry burn injuries, including the food service industry. A report by the National Burn Repository states that there were 10,639 burn injuries reported at industrial sites.Classification of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are among the most expensive catastrophic injuries to treat. A burn of 30% of total body area can cost more than $200,000 in initial hospital bills. For an extensive burn injury, there are additional significant costs which will include costs for repeat admission for reconstruction and for rehabilitation. Burns are typically classified by degree, with the higher the degree indicating the more serious the extent of the burn.
- First Degree Burns: First degree burns are burns that reach the first layer of skin. Oftentimes these are the common household burns, for example, handling a hot dish from the oven without a safety glove. These burns can usually be treated without emergency medical help but, if complications ensue, a follow up with a physician should be scheduled to examine any significant symptoms, including red or raw portions of the epidermis.
- Second Degree Burns: Second degree burns reference a burn that has reached into the second layer of skin. Second degree burns range in seriousness between superficial partial thickness layer scalds on the low end, and deeper skin layer damage on the high end. Most of the time, second degree burns will need to be treated with trauma care.
- Third Degree Burns: Third degree burns are also known as “full thickness” burns, as the burn damage reaches through all epidermal layers. Third degree burns require immediate emergency medical treatment, and may result in significant long term damage.
- Fourth Degree Burns: Fourth degree burns are the most severe category of burns, involving not only damage to all layers of the skin, but also damage to tendons or ligaments. Permanent scarring and physical limitations follow such an injury, with extensive surgeries and rehabilitations.
The degree of the burn, combined with the extent of body area that has been affected, determines the seriousness of the burn and the treatment outcomes. The area of the body affected is also crucial. Finally, one significant complication associated with serious scalding is infection. Major infections are life-threatening, and can require long term hospitalizationTypes of Burn and Fire Injury Lawsuit Claims
No matter how a fire incident occurred, if you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Legal claims to recover damages for your injuries are often referenced as negligence claims, which are brought against individuals, companies or employers if the fire and resulting injury is due to a breach of a duty of care that resulted in the injury. Product liability claims are a special category of negligence or breach of warranty claim, and are pursued against manufacturers, distributors and/or retailers when there is a defective product that causes the injury.Legal Services for Burn Victims
When dealing with the complications of a burn injury, it is critical to have an experienced team of attorneys on your side. The medical treatment associated with burn injuries can be extensive and costly. An experienced legal team can thoroughly investigate all aspects of a burn victim’s case to help ensure that the compensation covers all of the associated medical expenses, including those reasonably expected to be incurred in the future.What Legal Compensation Is Possible for Burn Injuries
If a lawsuit is successful against the responsible parties, the injured party can be compensated for various types of damages and losses that have resulted from the burn injuries, including physical and psychological damages, property damages, financial damages and quality of life related damages. Some examples of recoverable damages include:
- Medical expenses (past, present and future)
- Rehabilitation or nursing expenses
- Plastic surgery expenses
- Physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Medication costs
- Property damage
- Loss of wages
- Loss of capacity to work
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
If you are injured in a fire, burn or an explosion that was a result of carelessness or negligence, selecting a burn injury attorney with significant experience in burn injury claims is critically important. Fire and explosion incidents usually require immediate investigation, as well as analysis by arson investigators or other experts able to determine the cause of the blast or blaze, which is essential in making a legal determination as to who may be held responsible for the resulting damages or injuries.
Obtaining full and fair compensation will require negotiating with insurance companies, asserting claims against defendants and third parties, and a thorough understanding of the damages available for compensation.The Swartz Law Burn Injury Lawyers Will Fight for You
The experienced team of fire and burn injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz can help. The Boston Massachusetts burn injury lawyers at Swartz & Swartz are nationally known as top personal injury and complex litigation attorneys. Our experienced lawyers can walk you through every step of the process, from appointing investigators to determine the cause of the fire, identifying and bringing claims against the appropriate defendants, sifting through medical records for diagnoses and reviewing all expenses to ensure the maximum amount of damages are recovered.Some of our Successful Fire, Burn, Explosion Injury Lawsuit Cases:
(2 deaths and 6 injuries in gas explosion resulting from improper gas line locating)
(Deaths of two children in house explosion resulting from failure of gas company to replace corroded fitting)
(Severe burns to child from camping trailer propane fire in New Mexico)
(Burns from flammable uniforms sustained in Texas factory explosion)
(Burns sustained in fire caused by electric blanket)
(Burns sustained by 3 employees in Rhode Island factory explosion)
(Death of college student resulting from fire in condominium with inadequate fire detection devices)
(Burns resulting from flammable bathrobe)
(Propane Fire – plaintiff burned after lighting cigarette in house where he was aware gas had accumulated.
(Death resulting from explosion of denatured alcohol in cooking stove)
(Burns sustained when relighting candle ignited child's flammable nightgown)
(Burns caused by propane flash fire in New Hampshire)
(Burns to children from flammable comforter)
(Death of child from downed wires in hurricane)
(Burns from flammable child poncho)
(Death from propane flash fire in mobile home)
(Burns to child from defectively designed stove)
(Burns in New Hampshire propane flash fire caused by
(Burns from denatured alcohol fire in chafing dish)
(Burns sustained in methylene chloride explosion in New Hampshire factory)