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When suffering from a severe burn, a reputable burn injury lawyer can help heal wounds that are more than just skin deep. Unlike the minor burns that most of us are used to, severe burns can damage bodily functions that aren’t directly connected to the affected area. Our skin isn’t just a covering; it’s also an organ that regulates body temperature and hydration, keeps out disease and performs numerous other functions. When a significant percentage of skin is badly damaged, victims may have to fight for their lives against diseases, severe dehydration and other threats. And of course, severe burns destroy hair follicles, sweat glands, skin elasticity and other functions closer to the surface. Victims with burns in crucial places may find they literally can’t move the affected area anymore; some can even have trouble breathing.
There may be serious non-physical consequences to a major burn injury as well. Those with burns in visible areas may be left with highly visible, unsightly scars that cause serious social and emotional distress for victims. Insensitive people and children may ask invasive personal questions, stare or even comment rudely on the scar. Because our society is so focused on physical beauty, burn victims may even face discrimination when they’re out in public. And for some victims, especially young children, this type of treatment can lead to severe shyness or other emotional problems that make it hard to live a normal life.
What Causes Burn Injuries?
Statistics show that most burns acquired at home or at work are caused by preventable accidents, such as unattended cooking, dropped cigarettes or children playing with matches and lighters. Many others are the result of product defects and carelessness like bad electrical wiring, flammable home furnishings and clothing, heating and hot-water-heater accidents and appliances that short out. In workplaces involving open flames or chemicals, carelessness and lack of safety precautions are often to blame. And car and truck fires are almost always caused by broken parts or vehicle defects. In many cases, these fires could easily have been prevented if the people or companies responsible for making sure we’re safe had done their jobs.
What’s more, California residents face the elevated risk of injury from wildfires. A recent insurance company study found that over 2 million homes in California are considered to be at high risk from wildfires, with more than 417,000 in Los Angeles County alone. These risk are very real and translate to more than risk of property damage. Statistics have shown that in 2011, fires claimed the lives of 3,005 people and injured over 17,000 – many of which were in Southern California.
Why Choose Us?
The Los Angeles burn injury attorneys at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP are also nationally known as top personal injury and complex litigation attorneys. Our successes include a burn case that led to the largest jury verdict in U.S. history at the time, Anderson v. General Motors. In that case, firm partner Brian Panish helped recover $4.9 billion for six people who were severely burned when their vehicle was rear-ended, causing the defectively placed gas tank to burst into flames. In another case, occupants of a 15-passenger van that rolled over won a large confidential settlement after many were killed or badly burned.
Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top consumer law firms and many firm attorneys are recognized as among the top plaintiff consumers lawyers in the country. Our attorneys take leadership roles in numerous complex national lawsuits, including pharmaceutical class actions, aviation disaster lawsuits and defective tire litigation. All of our attorneys are active in professional organizations, and firm partners frequently speak about trial practice and specific legal topics at various legal conventions and conferences throughout the country.
When to Hire an Attorney
You may think you do not need a burn injury lawyer to help you negotiate an insurance settlement in California. However, representing yourself could expose you to the risk of settling for far less than your serious injuries are worth. Insurance companies will use many tactics to convince clients to settle their claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. The insurance claims adjuster may record your statement and then use it against you later, or offer a low amount and say it is the final offer.
A burn injury lawyer from Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP will not let an insurance company deceive you. We will evaluate your claim and give you an honest estimate of what it could be worth. We can take over conversations and negotiations with insurance adjusters to make sure no one infringes upon your rights. Our Los Angeles burn injury attorneys will stand by your side during settlement negotiations so you know exactly what to expect. If you have any questions or concerns, we will answer them fully based on the details of your unique claim.
A severe, disabling or disfiguring burn injury because of another person’s negligence deserves attention from a law firm. Hiring a lawyer will ensure you do not settle for less than your injuries demand. Our experience, resources and reputation in the LA area can benefit you and strengthen your claim. We may be able to obtain a much higher settlement or jury verdict on your behalf than you could alone. Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you will not have to pay for our services unless we win.
Types of Burn Injuries
Any burn injury can be devastating and life changing. The four types of burns are thermal, electrical, chemical and radiation. Thermal burns are the most common and come from contact with hot objects, steam or flames. Thermal burns can cause redness, swelling, pain and blisters. An electrical burn comes from contact with electricity, such as a live power line or lightning. Electrical currents can pass through the body and cause internal damage as well as external burns. Electrical burns may or may not have outward physical signs.
A chemical burn can happen when the skin touches an acidic or base chemical that destroys or damages the tissues. Chemical burns can be painful and cause the skin to itch, flake, burn or slough off. If the victim ingests a harmful chemical, it can cause significant internal damage as well. A radiation burn stems from too much exposure to a source of radiation, such as the sun’s ultraviolet rays or an x-ray machine. Radiation burns can cause itchiness, flaking, peeling, redness and blistering.
Burns inflict damage in three degrees. A first-degree burn is minor and will typically not cause any blistering or scarring. A second-degree burn can cause the skin to blister and break. A third-degree burn is severe and can cause the skin to appear white, brown, dry, leathery and swollen. Third-degree burns are often not painful since the burn destroys the nerves. A victim may require limb amputation, skin grafts and other surgeries to treat third-degree burns.
What to Do After Suffering a Bad Burn Injury in California
A minor burn injury may not be a reason to file a claim against a defendant, even if someone else caused the burns. Minor damage with small medical bills may not be enough to make the time, money and effort of a claim worthwhile. If you suffered serious or catastrophic burns, however, filing a claim could be the best way to obtain compensation for your major losses. Taking the correct steps after suffering a burn injury may be imperative in your case.
- Document your accident. Write down what happened and take photographs, if possible. If a product exploded in use, for example, document how you were using it and where you purchased the product. If your accident happened at work, notify your employer immediately and contact a workers compensation lawyer in Los Angeles. Creating a record of the burn injury will help you build a claim.
- Go to the hospital. Bad burns require immediate medical attention. Even a first-degree burn requires medical care if it is larger than four inches long or in a sensitive place, such as the face or hands. Go to a hospital immediately for burn injury treatment. You may need an IV, wound debridement, antibiotics and/or other treatments.
- Speak to a lawyer. Contacting an attorney from your home or the hospital can connect you to professionals who can guide you through the next steps. A personal injury law firm can investigate your accident for signs of negligence to identify the defendant. Then, your attorney can file your injury claim against the correct party or parties on your behalf.
Dealing with a burn injury can be difficult. The immediate medical care you need will depend on the type and severity of the burn. When in doubt, seek professional help for wound cleaning and care. Burn injuries have a high risk of serious infections, making it important to trust medical professionals with bad burns. Once you are on the mend, seek counsel from a burn injury lawyer in Los Angeles to begin your damage claim.
Types of Burn Injury Lawsuits
A burn injury can lead to many different types of civil claims. Understanding the type of lawsuit you may have is important since each comes with different rules and procedures. A lawyer from our firm can review your case for free and help you determine the type of claim you may be eligible to file. The answer will depend on the circumstances of your burn injury accident.
- A personal injury lawsuit based on negligence may be appropriate if the defendant breached a duty of care to you and this breach caused your burn injuries. If you were in a car accident with a drunk driver, for example, and you suffered a burn injury, you may have a standard negligence claim. A drunk driving accident lawyer in Los Angeles can assist you with this type of claim.
- Premises liability. You may have a premises liability claim if a dangerous property defect caused your burns, such as a lack of working smoke alarms at a hotel. The property owner breached a duty of care to you and contributed to your burn injuries, making him or her liable for your damages.
- Product liability. A consumer product that catches on fire, explodes or otherwise burns you due to a defect in its design or manufacturing could give you grounds to file a product liability lawsuit. You may not have to prove negligence to recover compensation through a product liability suit.
- Workplace accident. A burn that occurs while are performing work-related tasks could give you the right to file either a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. You cannot file a claim against your employer for negligence if you accept a workers’ comp settlement, so speak to a lawyer before making your decision.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one died because of his or her burn injuries in a catastrophic accident, you may be able to file for wrongful death damages. The law may entitle your family to compensation for losses such as medical bills, mental anguish, funeral and burial costs, and loss of consortium.
The factors involved in your burn injury case will determine the type of lawsuit your attorney should file. Most personal injury claims give plaintiffs in California two years from the date of the injury to file a civil lawsuit. This deadline could change, however, depending on your case. A lawsuit against the government, for example, has a six-month deadline. A wrongful death case gives you two years from the date of your loved one’s death, not necessarily the date of the burn injury. Speak to a burn injuries attorney for information about your specific deadline.
BURN INJURY VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS
Anderson v. General Motors $4,907,632,000
Griggs v. Caterpillar, et al. $58,137,361
Joseph B. Griggs sued West-Pac Industries after the Caterpillar scraper he was operating burst into flames resulting in third-degree burns over 75% of his body. Attorney Brian Panish argued that the fire was due to a defective mechanical product in the hydraulic system of the construction vehicle. A jury agreed, awarding Griggs $58,137,361.
Diao v. Southern California Gas Company $19,786,818
Martinez v. Southern California Gas Company $10,650,000
Doe v. Auto Manufacturer $4,000,000
Hernandez v. Doe Heater Manufacturer $3,700,000
Doe v. Auto Manufacturer $3,500,000
Doe v. Auto Manufacturer $3,000,000
Doe v. Auto Manufacturer $3,000,000
Luu v. Doe Corporation $2,000,000
Allaire v. Century Cable Co. $2,000,000
Doe v. Auto Manufacturer $2,000,000
Younger v. Foster Wheeler $1,750,000
Cohen v. Sports Connection $1,400,000
Williams v. S.C.E. $1,200,000
For your free burn injury consultation, please contact us at 877.800.1700.