Burn injuries do more than leave physical scars. For many severe burn injury victims, these injuries mean not being able to work, play with their kids, or even do simple tasks without excruciating pain.
According to the American Burn Association, nearly half a million people are admitted to hospital emergency departments every year due to all kinds of burns. For those living in Illinois, the financial impact could be even more devastating considering the high cost of medical care here.
If your injury was caused due to someone else’s fault, you shouldn’t have to foot the bill. At Mike Agruss Law, we are determined to help our clients hold the negligent parties liable and recover the largest possible compensation on the client’s behalf.
We can also refer injured victims to the top burn specialists, plastic surgeons, pain management specialists, and rehabilitation experts in Illinois for best possible recovery. Feel free to set up a free consultation with us to learn more.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries in Illinois
When most people hear the term “burn injury,” they think of wounds caused by touching a hot object or house fires. The truth is, people have sustained life-altering burns in a number of ways. Here are a few examples taken from our own experience representing burn victims:
- No smoke detectors in a rental house causing a fire
- Defective car fuel tank explodes in crash
- Restaurant serves dangerously hot coffee
- Construction site electrocution due to poor safety
- Skincare products with unsafe ingredients causing chemical burns
- Gas grill explosion at family barbecue
- Co-worker’s mistake with handling chemicals resulting in a lab explosion
- Daycare’s unattended hot iron burns a child
- Hotel’s hot water heater scalds guests
- Substandard fireworks explode on ignition
- Electrician’s exposed wiring causing electrical burns
- Overheated sauna at gym causing steam burns
- Factory fire due to lack of safety measures and accidents in construction sites
- Hospital’s mistake during radiation therapy causing burns
- Excessive chlorine in public pool leads to chemical burns
- Nursing home neglect causing severe burns from an unattended heating pad
What Are the Different Types of Burn Injuries?
A “burn” refers to any damage to the skin or other organic tissue caused by heat, radiation, electricity, or chemicals. The severity of a burn is determined by the temperature of the burning material, the duration of contact, and the extent of burned skin. Symptoms include blistering, swelling, scarring, and in severe cases, they result in shock and even death.
Broadly speaking, serious burn injuries can be classified as:
- First-degree burns: These are mild burns that affect only the outer layer of skin.
- Second-degree burns: These burns affect the outer layer and the underlying layer of skin, causing blistering and swelling.
- Third-degree burns: These are when the deeper skin tissues have been burned, leaving behind white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.
- Fourth-degree burns: These burns go even deeper, affecting muscle and bone, and are often life-threatening.
- Chemical burns: Caused by contact with chemicals, these burns can affect internal and external body parts.
- Electrical burns: These occur from electrical sources and can cause internal injuries.
- Radiation burns: These generally happen during medical treatments like X-rays, because of the exposure to radiation.
- Friction burns: These occur due to contact with any hard or rough surface, like road rash from a motorcycle accident.
- Cold burns: Also known as frostbite, these are caused by extreme cold.
- Thermal burns: These happen when you come in contact with something extremely hot, like fire or hot liquid.
In Illinois, severe burn injuries can fall under personal injury law if they are caused by someone else’s negligence, malfunctioning products, or intentional actions. In such burn injury claims, the burn victim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Health Complications Associated with Burn Injuries
When the skin is deeply burned, you can see the immediate damage and feel the pain. What you can’t see yet is the chain reaction of health problems a single burn event can set in motion.
First off, when your skin is burned, it’s easier for germs to get in, which means a risk of infections. These infections can spread into your bloodstream and affect vital organs like your heart and kidneys.
Then there is the loss of skin that can cause you to lose a lot of fluids. This dehydration can send your body electrolytes all out of balance. If you don’t receive medical attention quickly, this can mess with your heart rhythm and even shut down the major organs.
Another obvious ramification is the thick, raised scars known as “keloids”. As unsightly as these burn scars are, that’s not their full extent: they can actually limit your movement, especially if they form over a joint like your elbow or knee. In some cases, the scar tissue pulls your skin, muscles, and tendons out of place, making it hard to move the affected area. This condition is called contractures.
Breathing can also become a problem if you have inhaled hot air or smoke during the incident. These respiratory issues can add another layer of difficulty to your recovery. And because you are likely to be bedridden for a while, you are at risk for blood clots.
If the burns were so significant that they resulted in a lot of skin loss, you also need to be aware about the risk of hypothermia. After all, your skin is responsible for regulating your body temperature and keeping you warm.
All these complications are why you must contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. Otherwise you might have to pay for the mounting hospital expenses out of your own pocket.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Burn Injuries in Illinois
Depending on how you were injured and where it happened, your burn injury attorneys might be able to hold multiple parties responsible:
If the burn occurred due to unsafe conditions on a property owned by not you, the owner might be liable under premises liability law.
If the burn happens at work due to lack of proper safety protocols, the employer could be held responsible through workers’ compensation or, in extreme cases, a personal injury lawsuit.
If a defective product caused the burn, the manufacturer could be held liable under product liability law.
If, say, a gas leak led to an explosion and subsequent burns, the utility company could be held responsible.
Contractors and subcontractors
In construction or renovation projects, contractors or subcontractors could be liable if their negligence led to conditions that caused a burn.
Health care providers
In rare personal injury claims, medical professionals could be held liable for burns caused by procedures, under medical malpractice law.
Negligent motor vehicle drivers
In car, truck, and motorbike accidents that result in fires, the at-fault car driver, the trucking company, the auto component manufacturer, or the vehicle maintenance provider could be held liable.
If a burn occurs due to damaged wiring or lack of fire safety measures in a rental property, the landlord could be held responsible.
Sometimes, a government entity could be held liable if, for instance, a public park or pool had unsafe conditions that caused the burn injuries.
If someone negligently or recklessly causes you to get burned, they could be held personally liable.
How Much Compensation Can I Claim for My Burns?
That mostly depends on how significant your injuries are. More severe burns typically mean higher compensation because then you need extensive medical treatment, surgeries, skin grafts, and round-the-clock care for the foreseeable future, not to mention the permanent scarring or disability you will have to deal with.
Disfigurement, especially if it is on the face, neck, and other easily visible areas, can compromise your self-esteem. It can make it harder to have meaningful connections. It shouldn’t, but that’s how the world works unfortunately. This also plays a role in how much you can get.
Your burn injury lawyer would be better able to give you an accurate estimate. This is where our burn injury lawyers at Mike Agruss Law look at how the severe injury has affected your quality of life and ability to earn a living. If you can no longer work or have to take a lower-paying job, that will be a major factor in calculating your compensation. In case of injuries like this, the personal injury claim also considers the prognosis. If you are expected to recover fully, that’s one thing; but if you will have lifelong health issues, that increases the value.
Also note that the amount you can actually recover may be limited by how much insurance coverage the liable party has, or by their personal assets, if insurance is not sufficient. An experienced personal injury attorney can pursue a legal strategy to maximize your damages in these cases.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
For all personal injury cases in Illinois, including burn injuries, accident victims have two years from the date of the injury. If the serious burn injury was not discovered right away, then the clock starts ticking from the date it was or should have been discovered. For minors, the time limit is usually extended until two years after they turn 18.
Insurance companies have their own filing deadlines as well. So try to contact a Illinois personal injury lawyer as soon as you can to get your claim process started and recover compensation if you or someone you love has suffered burn injuries.
How Our Illinois Burn Injury Lawsuit Attorneys Can Help You
When we are representing you, we will get to work the moment you sign up with us. Our first job would be to investigate your case thoroughly and find out if any safety rules were broken that led to your catastrophic injuries. We will find strong evidence to build a compelling burn injury case and prove liability of the negligent parties.
We also bring decades of relationships with the top medical experts in Illinois, to understand how serious your burns are and what kind of treatment you will need, which helps in getting you the right amount of compensation.
If needed, we have the litigation experience and resources to take your burn injury accidents case to trial. For any questions or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 312-300-5996 (local) or 844-SEE-MIKE (toll-free). You can also complete this form.