Charleston Burn Injury Lawyer
Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Berkeley and Dorchester Counties For Over 95 Years
Burn injuries can create permanent physical impairments and have a devastating effect on one’s self-esteem. Although first-degree burns can be minor, second, third, and fourth-degree burns require further examination and treatment. Burns have high morbidity and mortality rates, and even non-fatal burns can lead to life-long debilitating conditions. A Charleston burn injury lawyer can help burn victims recover the damages they have sustained and help them move on from the traumatic burn incident.
Recent Statistics on Causes of Serious Burns
The most recent data from the American Burn Association (ABA) revealed that burn injuries are one of the leading causes of unintentional deaths in the United States. In conjunction with The National Center for Injury Prevention and the CDC, the ABA reported that between 2011 and 2015, nearly 500,000 fire or burn injuries required an emergency room visit.
Further, in 2016 there were 3,390 civilian fire-related deaths. Many of these deaths and severe injuries stemmed from residential structure fires, non-residential structure fires, and vehicle fires. Also, burn injuries and subsequent conditions can arise from defective products, medical malpractice, and on-the-job incidents.
In addition to determining the cause of a burn injury, determining the severity classification based on depth and size is vital in a burn injury legal case. These determinations are crucial for an attorney when assessing the damages that a burn injury survivor can recover.
What Are the Symptoms of Burn Injuries?
Burn injuries involve tissue destruction and can be linked with various physiological responses. After a burn, the body will trigger an immediate and local stress response. A burn victim may notice the onset of severe pain, blisters, redness, swelling, and charred black skin.
The injuries resulting from a burn vary, depending on the burn type and the exposure length. For instance, hot grease can cause an immediate deep burn, whereas scaling burns may only cause superficial injuries. On the other hand, acidic burns cause blood clots, whereas electrical injuries can cause deep tissue damage. In some cases, burn injuries may result in related traumas, including traumatic brain injury, abdominal injury, or injury to the chest cavity.
The inflammatory cycle can be complex, and creating an effective treatment plan with a physician is critical. The physician will need to determine the degree of the burn to discuss the next steps for recovery.
The Varying Degrees of Burn Injuries
Burn classifications depend on how deeply and severely they penetrate the skin’s surface. The degree of burns includes:
- First-Degree Burns: These burns affect the uppermost layer of the skin and are often superficial. These burns often result in red skin, and the pain is usually limited in duration.
- Second-Degree Burns: These burns are superficial but often accompanied by pain and require dressing and wound care. Although these burns do not typically require surgery, they might scar.
- Third-Degree Burns: These burns extend through the entire dermis (the second layer of the skin) and require protection from infection.
- Fourth-Degree Burns: These burns involve injury to deep tissue and may lead to loss of the burnt body part.
In many cases, the severity or degree of a burn will not be readily apparent; instead, the injury’s full extent may develop over several days.
Common Types of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries accompanied by an inflammatory response, metabolic changes, or shock can be challenging to manage. The most common burn categories include:
- Radiation – Radiation burns can result from medical procedures, such as radiation therapy and medical imaging technology. The severity of a radiation burn depends on the type of radiation. For example, overexposure to gamma rays causes intense burns, whereas overexposure to beta waves creates shallower burns.
- Thermal – Thermal burns are caused by exposure to extreme heat. The most common example is when you come into contact with an open flame. The hotter the object that comes in connection with the skin, the longer the touch, the more serious the burn.
- Electrical – Electrical burns result from an electrical current coming into contact with or entering the body. When electricity enters the human body, the electrical current slows, causing heat to build up and potentially resulting in serious internal injuries. Most electrical burn injuries occur in the workplace.
- Inhalation – Inhalation burns result from someone inhaling a hot or toxic substance. These burns can also be classified as scalding burns or chemical burns.
- Chemical – Chemical burns occur after encountering toxic chemicals. Many chemical burns are caused by cleaning products, and most chemical burns occur at home or in the workplace.
Each of these burns can cause muscle damage, lung damage, brain damage, and a loss of mobility. As a result, burn injury victims often face tremendous medical expenses and physical limitations. Pursuing a burn injury lawsuit can help compensate victims for their accident-related costs and the impact that the incident had on their life.
Product Liability Claims and Burn Injuries
In some cases, burn injuries and death may arise from a company, manufacturer, or retailer’s negligence. In Charleston, South Carolina, these entities may be liable for burn injuries and death if they negligently design, market, produce, or distribute a product that causes a burn.
Defective products may cause electrical, chemical, and inhalation burns. Some examples of how a defective product may result in burn injuries include:
- Faulty electric heaters;
- Children’s clothing made with flammable material that is prone to catching fire;
- Defective medical device or medication that burns a person’s skin;
- Dangerous cosmetic products;
- Exploding batteries in cell phones, cars, golf carts, and e-cigarettes;
- Defective auto parts that can overheat and explode under high temperatures.
These incidents can leave a person with life-long physical and psychological damage, impacting their potential for earning a living and engaging in their usual daily activities.
Work-Related Burn Injuries
Burns are one of the leading causes of workplace accidents, with more than 14,000 people missing at least one day of work due to a burn injury. While workers in many occupations can experience a burn injury, some of the most dangerous fields when it comes to burns include:
- Accommodation and food services,
- Construction, and
- Health care and social assistance.
Workplace burns may arise from fires, electricity, chemicals, steam, and friction. In these cases, the injury victim should contact a Charleston burn injury attorney to discuss their rights and remedies under the law.
An experienced Charleston, South Carolina, burn injury attorney can help victims determine fault and apportion liability. In some cases, those who experience a burn injury at work may be able to pursue workers’ compensation claims. However, the workers’ compensation system often fails to provide burn injury victims with enough compensation to cover all their accident-related expenses, let alone provide them with sufficient damages for everything they’ve been through.
Types of Damages in a South Carolina Burn Injury Lawsuit
In South Carolina, a burn victim may recoup certain damages for their injuries and losses. These damages include economic damages or non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the financial losses and expenses a victim experiences because of the liable party’s negligence. These are tangible losses such as medical bills, repair costs, and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are typically intangible, non-monetary losses caused by the incident. These damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
Punitive damages rarely apply and are designed to punish the liable party for particularly egregious or malicious conduct. While South Carolina permits these damages in accident cases, the law imposes certain limitations.
What The Damage Caps are in South Carolina
Under South Carolina law, victims can recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages; however, there are specific financial caps on recovery. There are no caps on monetary damages, but claimants must be able to present evidence of their losses.
Further, there are caps on non-economic damages involving medical malpractice cases. The compensation cap for medical malpractice claims depends on the lawsuit’s nature. South Carolina law caps punitive damages to three times the value of compensatory damages or $500,000.
It is important to note that the state’s damage caps are subject to change and will be adjusted according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). At the end of the fiscal year, The Board of Economic Advisors reviews the CPI to determine if there should be any changes to the caps.
How Comparative Negligence Laws Apply to Burn Injuries
It is also essential that injury victims understand how the state’s comparative negligence laws apply to their burn accidents. South Carolina follows the modified comparative negligence theory. Under this approach, a victim’s fault or liability can reduce the compensation the law entitles. Victims may recover compensation if they are less than 51% at fault for the accident that caused their injuries. For example, if a victim is 10 percent responsible for the accident and their damages total $200,000, they would recover $180,000 ($200,000 less 10 percent). However, if the same person was found to be 55 percent responsible, they would recover nothing.
Workplace injury cases are different. In a workers’ compensation case, there is no liability or negligent party. If you are injured at work, even if you made a mistake that caused your injury, you are still eligible to collect compensation under the South Carolina workers’ compensation system.
Contact a Charleston Burn Injury Lawyer for Immediate Assistance with Your Claim
If you or someone close to you recently suffered severe burns related to a car or workplace accident or were burned by a dangerous or defective product, reach out to the Charleston burn injury lawyers at the Steinberg Law Firm.
The dedicated South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Steinberg Law Firm can help you understand your rights and help you hold the parties responsible for your injuries financially accountable.
We’ve served the greater Charleston area for nearly 100 years and consider it an honor to continue our longstanding tradition of providing exceptional representation to those who need it most. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a Charleston burn injury lawyer, call 843-720-2800 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
WE HAVE RECOVERED OVER $500 MILLION FOR CLIENTS IN THE LAST 10 YEARS, INCLUDING:
Car Accident Settlement
Workers' Comp Case
Leaders in the Legal Industry
Steinberg attorneys have been awarded numerous distinctions, such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America by U.S. News & World Report, Gedney M. Howe, Jr. Award for Outstanding Public Service, the SC Leadership in Law award, and has been voted Best Workers’ Comp Firm in SC, among other distinctions.
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