Burns are among the most common and most painful injuries. The American Burn Association estimates that nearly 500,000 people seek professional medical attention for burn injuries each year—with males accounting for slightly more than two-thirds of burn injury victims. Burn injuries can vary widely in cause and severity. Below, our Birmingham personal injury lawyers provide a guide to burn injuries and burn injury claims in Alabama.
Know the Different Types of Burns
There are several different types of burn injuries. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, thermal burns are by far the most common type of burn injuries. Indeed, approximately 85% of all burn injuries for which people seek professional medical attention nationwide are thermal burns. Thermal burns include those caused by fire/flames, scalding, and contact with hot objects. Other common types of burns are smoke burns, chemical burns, and electrical burns.
An Overview of the Severity of Burn Injuries (Classification)
As explained by the University of Rochester Medical Center, burn injuries are classified by how deeply and how severely they penetrate the skin. There are four different degrees of burn injuries. A medical professional may be required to properly determine the severity of a burn injury. It is not always immediately obvious. Here is an overview of the different degrees of burn injury:
- First-Degree Burn Injury: A first-degree burn is also sometimes called a “superficial” burn. It only impacts the outermost layer of the skin. That being said, the term “superficial” can be misleading. A first-degree burn can be extremely painful. It is an injury that may require professional attention from a qualified doctor.
- Second Degree Burn Injury: A second-degree burn injury is a partial thickness burn injury. It is a very serious injury that occurs when deep tissues have been damaged by the burn. Second-degree burn injuries always require immediate medical care.
- Third Degree Burn Injury: A third-degree burn injury is a full-thickness burn injury. It can be the most painful type of burn. The innermost layer of skin is affected by the injury. Often, third-degree burns will appear “blackened” instead of just red and blistered. Many third-degree burn injuries result in permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Fourth Degree Burn Injury: A fourth-degree burn affects all layers of the skin and deep underlying tissue. It is a severe medical emergency that can be life-threatening. Ironically, a fourth-degree burn may not be as painful at the outset because all of the surrounding nerve tissue has been totally destroyed. It is a catastrophic injury.
Severe Burn Injuries Require Immediate Medical Attention and Proper Ongoing Care
As with other injuries, severe burns require immediate medical care and proper ongoing professional support. With a serious burn injury—particularly with second-degree burns, third-degree burns, and fourth-degree burns—it is imperative that the victim sees a doctor without delay. Not only is seeing a doctor a necessary step to protect your health and well-being, but it is also a required step in the personal injury claims process in Alabama. You cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit for a burn injury unless you have valid supporting medical records.
Proving Liability in a Burn Injury Claim
Burn injury cases are generally fault-based personal injury claims. The victim needs to prove negligence—failure to take proper care—on the part of the defendant(s). There are some exceptions for burn injuries that occur due to a dangerous and defective product. Those cases fall under product liability law in Alabama. Regardless, any accident that results in a serious burn injury should be thoroughly investigated by an experienced attorney. A Birmingham, AL burn injury lawyer will gather the evidence that you need to establish legal liability.
Note: Alabama is one of the few remaining contributory negligence jurisdictions in the United States. If you are found at fault for even a small percentage of your own burn injury accident in Birmingham, you could be denied compensation. Protect yourself from an unjust finding of fault.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Burn Injury Claim?
In Alabama, burn injury cases generally fall under the state’s standard personal injury statute of limitations. In effect, this means that an injured victim has two years from the date of a burn injury to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. You do not want to fall behind in the legal claims process. Consult with a top-rated Alabama burn injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
Recovering Financial Compensation for a Burn Injury in Alabama
If you or your family member sustained a burn injury due to the negligence of another party, you have the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation. Alabama law allows burn victims to file a claim for compensation for out-of-pocket expenses and non-economic damages. That being said, even when liability is not contested, defendants and insurers often fight hard against damages. They want to settle burn injury claims for as little as possible. Our Birmingham, AL burn injury lawyers are committed to helping clients secure justice and the maximum available financial relief. You may be entitled to recover burn injury compensation for:
- Emergency medical treatment;
- Hospital bills;
- Long-term medical care;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning potential;
- Pain and suffering;
- Permanent disfigurement; and
- Loss of life enjoyment.
Contact Our Birmingham Burn Injury Attorney for Immediate Help
At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Alabama personal injury lawyer has the professional skills, legal expertise, and proven experience to handle all types of burn injury claims. If you or your family member suffered a severe burn due to negligence, we can help. Call us at 205-896-6410 or send us a direct message to set your free, no-commitment case review. From our Birmingham office, we handle burn injury claims throughout the wider area, including in Jefferson County, Saint Clair County, Walker County, Shelby County, Cullman County, Winston County, and Blount County.