Burn Injuries FAQs

Q. Why are burns so dangerous?

A. Burns are dangerous because they destroy skin which is the principal barrier to infection for the body. As a result, burn victims are very vulnerable to potential infection.

Q. What are the psychological effects of severe burns?

A. Burn victims often suffer psychological effects resulting both from the incident that caused the burn - often a frightening event such as an explosion, car accident or fire - and the effects of the burn itself. Severe burns can be extremely painful, their treatment may take a long time, and the victim may be left with disfigurement and scarring.

Q. Who can sue for a burn injury?

A. Any child or adult whose burn injury was caused by someone else's fault may sue.

Q. Who can be held responsible for a burn injury?

A. Any person whose negligent or intentional misconduct caused the injury can be held responsible to the injured plaintiff. This would include a large list of potential defendants from vehicle drivers, product manufacturers, construction site operators, owners of dangerous private or public property, and others. The key is to establish that there is fault on at least one of these parties or any other potential defendant who caused your burn injury.

Q. What if I was also at fault for the accident that caused my burn injury?

A. Louisiana is a comparative fault state. A person can sue for serious personal injury even if they are partially at fault as long as her or she can prove that one or more other parties are also at fault. However, the amount of a person's recovery will be reduced by the amount of their fault. Therefore, if someone is awarded $5 million dollars in a serious personal injury case, but are found to be fifty percent (50%) at fault, the recovery will be limited to $2.5 million dollars.

Q. Is it important to quickly investigate an accident which results in a burn injury?

A. Absolutely. Given the seriousness of the injury, the accident should be investigated quickly and thoroughly. A thorough investigation should include an examination of the scene, the instrumentalities involved in the accident, interviews with witnesses and the collection of reports from investigating agencies.

Further, if at all possible, the instrumentalities causing the accident should be maintained in their post accident condition, i.e., motor vehicles should not be repaired, malfunctioning machines should be maintained and not repaired, fire scenes should not be rebuilt until the cause of the fire and burn injury can be clearly established.

The investigation will be important to establish fault on the guilty defendant; establish a lack of fault on the part of the plaintiff; and establish fault on other wrongdoers to fully compensate plaintiff.

Q. Will my attorney need to retain experts to prove liability and damages even though my injury is so obvious?

A. Almost always. Because of the seriousness of your injury, it is critical that liability, i.e., fault, is determined as soon as possible after an accident against at least one potential wrongdoer. Liability experts will help you do this. These experts include accident reconstruction experts, mechanical engineers, metallurgists, fire investigators and human factors experts who can speak to the liability factors in the accident.

Although the fact that you are injured may be obvious, the consequences of the injury will often be disputed. At the very least, you will need to retain at least one doctor to testify to the medical effects of your injury. You will also need a vocational rehabilitation/life care need expert to testify regarding your loss of earning capacity and your need for future care and treatment, and finally, you will need an economist to testify to the amount of damages which will need to be awarded to cover all of your losses.

Q. What damages am I entitled to recover in my burn injury case?

A. A person who has suffered a burn injury is entitled to recover all of his or her past and future medical attendant care expenses; past and future loss of income/earning capacity; past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress.

Q. How soon after my accident must I bring a case?

A. You generally will have one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.

Q. Do I need to retain an attorney?

A. If you've suffered a significant injury it's critical to hire an attorney to resolve your case and ensure you receive adequate compensation. An attorney, through investigation, retention of experts and litigation, will help you to establish fault on potential defendants and will help minimize or eliminate any fault which would be attributed to you.

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