Our firm frequently represents the legal interests of individuals who suffer serious burn injuries due to others’ careless actions. When this situation occurs, you may be eligible to collect compensation for your injuries and other accident-related losses. Our legal team, comprised of a Houston burn injury lawyer and other legal professionals, will represent your interests and seek damages for your injuries. We know that after an accident, you need to concentrate on your physical and financial recovery. We also know you’re likely to have concerns about those steadily rising medical bills. You may be unable to work and stuck with no income, just when you need it most. Our goal is to ease your stress. Let our Houston personal injury lawyers work on your legal case while you work on getting better. Call our offices today at 800-898-4877 or click here to contact us and learn more about our legal services.
Our Law Firm Can Help with Your Houston Burn Injury Case
Burn injuries can be devastating. When someone else is responsible for your injuries, you have the right to hold them accountable. Our legal team will guide you through every step of your Houston burn injury case, from start to finish.
We Can Determine the Cause of Your Accident
The first step in any burn injury case is determining who is at fault for the accident that caused your wounds. Next, we must gather evidence to support our case against all liable parties, such as:
Accident reconstruction reports
Diagrams and photos of the accident scene
Obtaining this evidence allows us to build your case and work to get compensation for your injuries. The more evidence we have showing that another party is at fault, the easier it will be to hold them accountable for their negligence.
We Can Identify All Potentially Liable Parties
In motor vehicle accident cases, the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident is most commonly the liable party. However, that driver may not be the only liable party. The driver’s employer, other drivers, and auto parts manufacturers may also be potentially liable in car accident cases.
We Can Handle Insurance Claims and Court Filings
Trying to navigate the world of insurance claims and court filings can be complex, especially when you are trying to recover from severe burn injuries. We will handle these details for you while you concentrate on getting better. By doing so, we hope to relieve your burden and enable you to get back to your everyday life sooner.
Affordable and Convenient Legal Services for All
We start all our relationships with our prospective clients by offering them a free consultation. This case evaluation allows us to hear your story and helps you get to know our legal team, all with no obligation or risk on your part. We will evaluate your situation and determine if you have a valid legal case. If you decide to work with us, our services are available on a contingency fee basis. This type of fee arrangement means you pay nothing upfront for us to provide you with legal representation in your case. You pay legal fees only when you receive a settlement or monetary damages in your case.
Steps to Take After an Accident
Any accident can overwhelm you, but suffering from severe burn injuries can be especially traumatic. Here are some steps you can take to preserve your legal rights and get the help you need after you have suffered burn injuries in an accident:
Get any medical attention that you need right away. Do not put off necessary treatment. Always follow up with any recommended treatment for your burn injuries.
If your burn injuries stem from a motor vehicle accident, get a copy of the police report and other information the police gathered, such as the names and contact information for witnesses.
Refrain from giving any statement or even speaking to the insurance company or any representatives for the parties who caused your accident. They may try to use what you say against you later.
Keep all documentation you receive about your injuries, including medical records and instructions.
Keep all documentation about any financial losses that you have experienced because of the accident, such as medical bills, repair or replacement of your vehicle, and lost income.
Notify your employer of your injuries and determine if you need to apply for short- or long-term disability benefits, sick leave, or extended medical leave.
Get legal advice about your rights and responsibilities after an accident as soon as possible.
General Causes of Burn Injuries from Motor Vehicle Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, on average, 1.1 million people suffer burn injuries in the United States each year or one person every 23 minutes. About 50,000 of these burn injuries are severe enough to require hospitalization, and 20,000 people have major burns that cover at least 25% of their bodies. According to a Nature Reviews Disease Primers study, most burn injuries result from contact with hot liquids, solids, or fire. Flames are more likely to cause immediate deep burn injuries, so accidents involving fire may result in more severe injuries. Fires that cause burn injuries do not always occur in homes or apartment buildings either. Motor vehicle accidents can burn people due to:
Explosions of motor vehicles
Chemicals leaked during motor vehicle accidents
Contact with electrical wires during an accident
Defective motor vehicle parts
Any of these situations that commonly arise during a motor vehicle accident can lead to burn injuries. Individuals who suffer burn injuries due to others’ negligence may have a claim for compensation against the responsible parties.
Types of Accidents That May Lead to Burn Injuries
Researchers for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found in a 2020 study that an estimated 212,500 vehicle fires occurred in the U.S. in 2018. The resulting burn injuries from vehicle fires were second only to burn injuries from those from one- and two-family residential fires. Vehicle fires led to 4.5 times the number of fatalities from nonresidential structure fires and 1.6 times the number of fatalities from apartment fires.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The NFPA further reported that the leading cause of vehicle fires was collisions, whether with other vehicles or fixed objects. Other common causes were mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions, typically in older vehicles. Most vehicle fires involve highway vehicles, and large trucks are disproportionately involved in motor vehicle fires. Other motor vehicles also can cause burn injuries when involved in collisions or accidents. These motor vehicles might include:
These motor vehicles may be prone to the same risks of combustion and defects that can cause a risk of fire in cars and trucks. As a result, drivers of these vehicles—as well as their passengers—may also experience burn injuries as a result of traffic accidents. Anyone who experiences burn injuries in any type of motor vehicle accident should strongly consider consulting a Houston burn injury attorney for advice about their potential legal options.
Because motorcyclists lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle while on the road, they are particularly susceptible to burn injuries in a crash. Even the protective gear some motorcyclists wear cannot totally shield them from burn injuries. Motorcycle accident injuries may include:
Thermal burn injuries when motorcycles catch on fire or explode after a collision, either with another motor vehicle or another object
Chemical burn injuries from direct contact with gasoline or battery acid after a crash
Exhaust pipe and engine burn injuries from contact between the body of the motorcyclist and these metal surfaces, which can heat up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases
Road rash injuries when motorcyclists lose a layer of skin during a collision after skidding across an abrasive surface, such as asphalt or concrete
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Like motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians have nothing to protect them from the impact of a car accident, whether it involves them directly or happens near them. These individuals certainly can suffer burn injuries if a nearby collision leads to an explosion or fire. However, they also can suffer from road rash injuries if a collision drags their bodies across concrete or asphalt.
Types of Burns
Different types of burns can occur depending on the situation. All types of burns can vary in severity and the treatment required.
Thermal burns are the most common types of burns. These burns can result from contact with heated metal, steam, flames, or heated water.
Chemical burns occur when people have contact with harsh or toxic chemicals that burn their skin. These burns could occur at home, in a factory, or during a car accident when chemicals leak from motor vehicles or other nearby sources damaged in the wreck.
Flash burns may result from an explosion in a factory, at home, or in a car accident. The closer you are to the explosion, the more extensive and severe these flash burns tend to be.
Inhalation burns occur in your throat when you breathe in smoke, heat, or toxins, usually from a fire. These burns can cause swelling of the airway and difficulty breathing. Inhalation injuries can permanently damage the lungs, which can be particularly dangerous for people with existing lung or heart disease.
Road Rash Burns
Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to road rash burns. These burns occur when a motor vehicle accident causes victims to lose one or more layers of skin when their bodies make contact with pavement or concrete. The resulting “burn” can be painful, disfiguring, and permanently scarring.
The Severity of Burn Injuries
The CDC describes three different levels of burn injuries that increase in severity. First-degree burns are the least severe type of burns, followed by second-degree and third-degree burns, which are the most severe type of burns.
First-degree burns involve only the skin’s top layer and can be as minor as a sunburn. Symptoms typically include redness, pain to the touch, and mild swelling. Medical attention is usually unnecessary unless the burns cover a large area of the body, or the injured victim is an elderly person or infant.
Second-degree burns affect the skin’s top two layers. A person with second-degree burns exhibits deep reddening of the skin, pain, blisters that leak fluid, and possible skin loss. Medical treatment typically is necessary for these burns, and the person may go into shock due to this degree of burns.
Third-degree burns penetrate all the skin’s layers and permanently destroy tissue. The skin may appear dry, leathery, and charred, with patches of white, brown, or black. Although third-degree burns are painless, they often occur along with first- and second-degree burns, which do cause pain. Third-degree burn injury victims require immediate medical attention.
Treatment for Burn Injuries
The treatment for burn injuries is often a long and painful process, especially when the burns are severe and cover a large part of the body. Immediate treatment often involves antibiotics and intravenous fluids. As time goes on, surgery, skin grafts, and amputation may be necessary to treat severe burns. Skin grafts occur when doctors take healthy skin from the victim’s body and implant it on the burned area. When a person has extensive burns, this can be a long process that carries a high risk of infection. Even if doctors can control the possibility of infection and maintain the blood supply to the burned area, the site will not fully heal for six months. Due to the nature of burn injuries, you also may need additional surgeries. These surgeries may be necessary to address the significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement that often accompany burn injuries. Some of these medical procedures might include:
Even if successful, these surgeries can be highly invasive, painful, and expensive. They also can lengthen the time needed to recover from your injuries. In some cases, however, even these types of surgery cannot totally restore your physical appearance to what it was before your accident.
Types of Compensation in Your Houston Burn Injury Case
Most burn injury victims seek compensatory damages in their legal cases after a motor vehicle accident. The purpose of compensatory damages is to compensate the injury victims for their accident-related losses. Compensatory damages, at least in theory, make injury victims “whole” and restore them to the same position they were in before the accident.
Economic damages relate to a specific economic or monetary loss that occurs because of an accident. Common examples of economic losses include:
Medical bills for treatment of injuries
Lost wages from being unable to work
Costs of medical assistive devices, medical supplies, and medications
Expenses for home health and personal care
Non-economic damages represent compensation for intangible losses related to an accident. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress and trauma, permanent disabilities, and loss of enjoyment of life. Although these losses may not correlate to a specific bill, they are still valid and significantly impact your quality of life.
Punitive damages are rare; they are only available in cases involving malice or gross negligence. These damages punish the responsible parties for their conduct. To name one example, punitive damages might be appropriate when severe burn injuries result from a drunk driving accident.
Proving Your Burn Injury Case
Most motor vehicle accident claims rely on a legal theory of negligence. People are negligent when they act carelessly or recklessly, disregarding the safety of others. In other words, their conduct falls below the level of care that reasonable people would exercise in the same or a similar situation. To prove that a driver or another party was negligent in causing a motor vehicle accident, you generally must prove:
The driver owed the injury victim a duty of reasonable care, just like all drivers owe others when they drive on public roadways.
The driver breached the duty of care by being careless, reckless, or breaking traffic rules and regulations.
The actions of the driver directly led to the accident that injured the victim.
The injury victim suffered harm, damages, and related losses as a result of the accident.
In the context of motor vehicle accidents, drivers are negligent when they violate the law, such as by speeding or driving while intoxicated. While you do not always need to have proof of a traffic violation to hold someone responsible for a motor vehicle accident, it can be strong supporting evidence for your case.
Liable Parties in a Houston Burn Injury Case
Various parties can be liable or financially responsible for the costs of your burn injuries after an accident. There may be one or more at-fault parties in your case, which can be individual people or companies. One major task that our Houston burn injury lawyers can complete in investigating your case is identifying all of the potentially liable parties. The most commonly liable party in a burn injury case that arises from a motor vehicle accident is one or more drivers whose negligence caused the accident. However, other parties also owe liability in some circumstances, such as:
Employers of drivers who were on the job at the time of the crash
Bars or liquor shops that over served intoxicated drivers
Government entities who failed to maintain roads or other hazards
Bicyclists or pedestrians whose negligence contributed to the accident
Companies who design, manufacture, and sell defective vehicles, vehicle parts, or safety equipment for vehicles
One example of a case in which multiple parties may be liable for burn injuries is a semi-tractor-trailer accident. Potentially liable parties could include the driver, the trucking company, the owner of the truck, the company loading the truck, and the maintenance company for the truck. The specific cause of your accident will determine who is liable for the costs of your burn injuries and related losses.
Court Filing Deadlines in Your Burn Injury Case
All states have filing deadlines for different kinds of lawsuits. These deadlines vary according to where your legal problem occurred and what type of lawsuit you want to file. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, you generally have two years from the date of the accident that caused your burn injuries to file your lawsuit. Although there are some exceptions to this general rule, failure to meet this filing deadline can result in you missing your chance to seek compensation for your injuries. You also may be unable to hold negligent persons or other parties accountable for their part in causing your injuries. Missing this deadline can leave you solely responsible for the costs of your injuries from an accident that you did not cause. Since this court filing deadline is so critical, getting legal advice from our law firm quickly after your accident is important for the success of your case. Call our law firm today to learn more about your legal rights following a burn accident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Burn Injury Cases
What Are Common Mistakes People Make After Burn Injuries?
After a severe accident, many people are uncertain what to do. Unfortunately, they sometimes can make errors in judgment that end up damaging their legal cases. As a result, if you or a loved one suffers burn injuries in an accident, you should:
Get immediate medical treatment for your burn injuries. Delaying treatment can cause your injuries to worsen, and insurance companies won’t hesitate to use this “gap in treatment” against you.
Take photos of everything, including your vehicle, the accident scene, and your burns and injuries as they heal.
Document everything, including your medical care, your medical bills, your travel expenses to get care, and your lost wages.
Avoid talking to the insurance company or giving recorded statements. The insurance adjuster who represents the party responsible for your injuries is not there to help you or get the full story from you. Their only goal is to avoid paying you compensation to the greatest degree possible.
Get legal advice as soon as you can after your injuries. Personal injury claims are subject to strict timelines, and preserving evidence to support your case is critical. Hiring a Houston burn injury lawyer is a logical step if you want to pursue fair compensation for your injuries.
How Do I Choose the Right Attorney for My Burn Injury Case?
You will work closely with your legal team throughout your burn injury case. You will also need to discuss sensitive matters about your injuries, your medical treatment, and how your injuries affect your everyday life. As a result, you need a legal team with whom you are comfortable discussing these personal issues. Look for the following qualities in your Houston burn injury attorneys:
Familiarity with burn injury cases and personal injury litigation
Willingness to perform a thorough investigation to build your case
Experience in negotiating settlements with insurance companies
Responsiveness to your questions and requests for updates about your case
Experience taking cases like yours to trial if a reasonable settlement is not reached
As your legal team, we are here to guide you through every step of your case, from beginning to end. We will ensure that you get the medical treatment that you need, provide you with frequent information about your case, and work to get compensation for your injuries. Together, we will fight to hold the negligent parties accountable for the harm they’ve caused you.
How Much Is My Burn Injury Case Worth?
Every burn injury case is different, so every burn injury case settlement or damages award will vary. However, burn injury settlement values may be higher than in some other types of injury cases because of the nature of the injuries. Burn injuries can result in a great deal of pain, trauma, and permanent scarring and disfigurement. These conditions can lead to greater settlements in some cases. The extent and permanency of your burn injuries also can affect the ultimate settlement or damages award that you receive after an accident. For example, if you suffer minor burn injuries that heal without major medical treatment, scarring, or disfigurement, your settlement may be lower. Conversely, if you suffer extensive third-degree burns that require months of treatment and leave permanent scars, your settlement may be higher. Unlike some states, Texas does not place any caps or limits on the damages or compensation you could receive in a personal injury case. (Medical malpractice cases are the exception.) Therefore, Texas law doesn’t limit the amounts of economic or non-economic damages that you may receive, either through a settlement or a damages award after going to court.
How Does a Burn Injury Case Work?
A burn injury case starts when you meet with our Houston burn injury legal team. We will review the facts that led to the accident that caused your burn injuries, evaluate your case, and review your legal options with you. Our client-first approach ensures you will be treated with the respect and compassion you deserve, every step of the way. From there, you will decide the best strategy for moving forward with your case. Next, you will file a claim for compensation with the insurance company for the party or parties who are responsible for your accident. Filing an insurance claim can be a lengthy process that involves plenty of fine print. Your attorneys will negotiate fiercely with the insurance company to settle your case. If your legal team cannot reach a fair and reasonable settlement in your case, then they could file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. Court proceedings go through several stages before the court schedules your case for a trial, either in front of a jury or a judge. The judge or jury then reaches a decision on your case and the amount of any damages that you should receive from the at-fault parties.
What Is the Timeline for My Burn Injury Case?
First, burn injuries may require extended periods of treatment that can take months or even years to complete. (Extended medical treatment is especially necessary if you must undergo multiple skin grafts or reconstructive surgery, as you often need months of healing between procedures.) Due to this, you cannot settle your burn injury case until you have reached your maximum level of medical improvement or have a clear sense of what future medical treatment you must have. Next, some insurance companies will deny liability and refuse to negotiate in good faith from the outset of your case. When this situation occurs, your case can take a long time to settle. You may need to go to trial to secure the compensation you deserve.
Contact Us Today so Our Houston Burn Injury Lawyers Can Get Started on Your Case
When negligence leads to you or a loved one suffering from burn injuries, you have a right to seek compensation for those injuries. Additionally, you may be able to pursue monetary relief for your other accident-related losses. A Houston burn injury lawyer from our team will evaluate your claims and help you get the compensation that you are due. Contact your Houston burn injury legal team at the offices of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, today. Call us at 800-898-4877 or visit us online today so we can get started working on your case right away. Get your free case evaluation by contacting our intake department, available 24/7 and waiting to hear from you.
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