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What is the Settlement Value of a Burn Injury?

chemical-plant-explosion-1236494The skin is the largest organ of the body. With it providing numerous health benefits in terms of heat regulation and physical, mechanical and microbial protection, it is no surprise that that severe burn injuries can have very serious effects on a person’s health and well-being.  In fact, in some cases, burns may even be life-threatening. It has been reported that in the U.S. alone, about half a million people suffer from burn injuries each year, although this number only includes those who actually seek treatment.  While minor burns will usually heal with some basic first aid and conservative treatment, more severe burns can result in long-term problems, including pain, scarring and disability.  

If the burn was caused by someone else’s negligence or malicious intent, you may be entitled to a settlement and should contact an Atlanta personal injury lawyer.  If you are entitled to a settlement after sustaining a burn, here are five factors that need to be taken into consideration when calculating the approximate value of a settlement for burn injuries:

1. Severity of the Burn

The more severe the burn is, the higher the settlement will likely be. Burns can be classified by the type of burn (such as electrical or chemical,) the depth of the burn, the location of the burn and the size of the burn.  In general, first- and superficial second-degree burns accounting for less than 10 percent of the total body surface area are considered minor, while burns that cover more than 10 percent as well as third- or fourth-degree burns covering more than five percent of the body are considered major burns.

2. Costs associated with the treatment and recovery of the burn

If the burn is associated with hefty medical bills, additional costs required for future care (e.g. physiotherapy, occupational therapy or psychotherapy), or loss of income, these factors will be taken into consideration when calculating the settlement value.

3. Where and how the accident occurred

Where and how the burn injury occurred need to be considered, as the degree of the defendant’s liability can affect how much a jury is willing to award at trial.  For example, if the burn was caused by an accident that was potentially non-preventable, the settlement will be lower than if it was caused by someone else’s obvious or admitted negligence.  For workers’ compensation claims, the award is generally much lower than that in personal injury civil lawsuits, especially if the burn did not result in disfigurement or disability.

4. Whether or not punitive damages are available

In some cases, the burn may have been caused by conduct more culpable than mere negligence or even have been caused by an intentional act.  In such cases, the burn victim may also be entitled to punitive damages.  The wealthier a defendant is shown to be, the amount paid will generally be higher.

5. Psychological health problems secondary to the burn

In addition to physical damages, severe burns can be associated with immense emotional and psychological problems, either as a reaction to the pain and disfigurement or simply to the experience itself. Cases in which the plaintiff suffers long-term emotional stress due to disfigurements are more likely to result in a larger settlement.

In addition to the physical effects of a burn, the emotional and financial consequences can be crippling. If you have been burned, whether you believe it’s your fault or someone else’s, it is always a good idea to contact the Atlanta personal injury lawyers at McAleer Law as soon as possible to make sure that your legal rights are protected.