Houston Burn Injury Lawyer
The National Fire Protection Association says that approximately every 60 seconds someone in the U.S. sustains a burn injury serious enough to require medical care. A burn injury is among the most painful injuries and can require months of treatment and rehabilitation.
In Houston and across Texas, people of all ages suffer burn injuries. The most common causes of serious burns are:
- Construction accidents
- Oilfield accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Tanker truck accidents
- Collisions with semi-trucks carrying flammable liquid
- Car accidents
- Railroad accidents
- Maritime accidents.
If you or your loved one has sustained a burn injury due to someone else’s carelessness or disregard for safety, you may have a legal right to seek compensation from the at-fault party for your medical expenses and other losses. If you suffered a burn injury in a workplace accident and your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you may claim workers’ compensation benefits including paid medical care and replacement of lost wages.
It’s important to consider all your options because a serous burn (third or fourth degree) requires hospitalization for specialized care that may include numerous rounds of surgery followed by rehabilitation therapy. The medical bills can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An experienced Houston burn injury lawyer at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. can review your burn accident and discuss whether filing a burn injury claim is appropriate in your situation. Our lawyers have more than 30 years of experience helping individuals injured in workplace accidents, car and truck accidents and other unexpected events all around Houston. If you or your loved one has been injured, contact us now.
Sources and Severity of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are caused by the transfer of heat from an outside source to human body tissue. This may be caused by:
- Fire, including structure fires, motor vehicle fires, brush fires, bonfires, campfires.
- Open flame, including stoves, woodstoves, grills, candles, fireworks, welding and cutting torches, smoking.
- Hot liquids or vapors (scalds), such as from steam, grease, food, beverages, tap water.
- Explosions of ignitable gases (acetylene, ammonia, hydrogen, propane, propylene and methane), flammable liquids (gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, butane), welding, chemical or demolition explosions at work sites, fireworks.
- Contact burns (touching hot objects), including heaters and heating equipment, car radiators, machinery, kitchen equipment and cooking utensils, hot metal, hot tar, asphalt.
- Electricity / electrical currents, such as from machinery, power tools, appliances, frayed cords, power lines.
- Chemicals, including gasoline, acids, lye, paint thinner.
- Radiation, including infrared radiation from the sun (sunburn) and x-rays or other medical or workplace machinery.
The depth of a burn injury can range from the discomfort of a mild sunburn to the deadly seriousness of a fourth-degree burn injury. The severity of a burn is rated according to the amount of damage it does to the victim’s body:
- A first-degree burn damages the outer layer of skin, without blistering. A typical sunburn is a first-degree burn.
- A second-degree burn damages the epidermis and the underlying dermis and includes blistering. Deep second-degree burns can leave scars.
- A third-degree burn destroys both layers of skin and underlying tissue and may cause nerve damage. A third-degree burn usually requires skin grafts to repair damage.
- A fourth-degree burn damages muscle, tendons and bone and is usually fatal. A fourth-degree burn may blacken or char the skin.
A first-degree burn may be treated with ice or cold water and over-the-counter pain relievers. A second-degree burn should be seen by a doctor. A third- or fourth-degree burn, or a burn that covers the face, groin, a large joint or a large portion of the body, is a medical emergency.
Severely injured burn victims require hospitalization and, in most cases, surgery. Surgery may include:
- The removal of dead, loose or contaminated skin and other tissue.
- Skin grafts involving taking healthy skin from other sites on the patient’s body to repair burn areas.
- Cosmetic surgery to repair scarring and disfigurement.
A severely burned patient may suffer a variety of potentially fatal complications, including infections and hypothermia due to the loss of the protection provided by the skin. Many people who are severely burned go into shock soon after their accident.
Burns can cause disfiguring scars. A burn victim may be permanently and totally disabled and require assistive or adaptive mobility devices (i.e., walkers, wheelchairs) or a life care plan for managing their ongoing medical needs and costs.
How do You Prove Liability in a Burn Injury Case?
To prepare a case for you to recover compensation after a burn injury, a Houston burn injury attorney at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. would investigate your accident independently of local fire, police and other first responders. We would seek to determine the source of the fire, chemical, or electrical malfunction that caused your injury and who or what organization should be held accountable.
Individuals who work in industrial settings are the most likely to be burned in an occupational accident. Workplace burn injuries are often caused by contact with hot objects such as tools and machinery, electrical currents, caustic chemicals or flammable gasses. Workers are most likely to be burned on the head, face, arms or upper body.
In many cases, a workplace burn injury could have been avoided if the employer had adhered to workplace safety guidelines and other OSHA regulations. An individual injured on the job in Texas may be able to obtain workers’ compensation, but Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ comp insurance. If your employer decided not to provide workers’ compensation insurance protection to employees, then Texas law allows you to bring an injury claim against your employer related to a workplace accident.
A worker who suffered a serious burn on the job might instead pursue a personal injury lawsuit against their employer who does not carry workers’ comp insurance or a third party responsible for causing or contributing to the accident. A third-party claim might be possible if:
- Negligence on the part of someone other than a direct employer, such as a subcontractor or a vendor working at the same job site, caused the burn accident
- A defective product caused a burn injury.
Of course, a personal injury claim would also be available to an individual who suffered a burn in an nonoccupational accident caused by another party, such as in a car accident or truck accident.
The compensation or damages available in a Texas personal injury claim include money for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish.
Contact Us About Your Burn Injury
Our Houston burn injury lawyers handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t owe us a fee unless we win your case. Contact Houston bury injury lawyer Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., now for a free consultation to find out more about how we can help with your burn injury claim.