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Fire and Burn Injury Lawyers in New York
Fire and burn injuries are amongst the most painful that one can ever experience. It not only affects the victim physically, but it can also have a deep psychological impact. Burns on the skin cause damage to nerve endings which results in profound feelings of pain in the affected area. Each year in the United States, millions of people suffer from burn injuries due to one reason or another. Unfortunately, many of these people succumb to their injuries, leaving devastated family members behind. In fact, burns are a leading cause of unintentional death, overshadowed only by fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes and falls.
Burn victims have injuries that may be long-lasting and life-threatening. Injured individuals may have to grapple with chronic pain, infections, and in some instances, amputation. Burn injuries are highly traumatic and expensive to treat. While coming to terms with any serious burn injury is difficult, matters are made worse if the accident was the result of negligence that could have been prevented.
If you or someone you care about has suffered a burn injury and you believe another party may be to blame, Morgan and Morgan might be able to help. Our fire and burn injury lawyers in New York can provide the support and guidance you need to pursue compensation from the at-fault party. We deliver results for New York clients by providing quality legal representation, including formulating compelling legal arguments and conducting in-depth investigations to ensure successful outcomes.
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What Are Some Common Causes of Burn Injuries?
The American Burn Association compiles statistics from a variety of national data systems and surveys and, in 2016, revealed that 486,000 people received medical treatment for burn injuries in the U.S. Many burn injury victims have a great chance at survival. Still, they may endure extreme pain and be left with significant scarring. Here are the latest statistics concerning causes of admission to hospitals for the treatment of burn injuries:
- 43% are admitted for injuries from fire or flame
- 34% for scalds by hot liquids or steam
- 9% for contact with hot surfaces like ovens, exhaust pipes, or heaters
- 4% of burn injury victims are admitted because of contact with live electricity
- 3% for chemical burns from strong acids or other caustic substances
- 7% of burn victims suffer an injury from sunburns, fireworks, radiation, or other causes
The vast majority of burn injuries occur in the home (78%), followed by work, on the roadways, and while engaging in recreational activities.
Who Is Liable for a Fire or Burn Injury?
Since a significant number of injuries happen in the home, you may wonder how someone else could be liable to pay for hospital bills and other expenses. There are a few situations where another party may be responsible for injuries, even if the injury occurred in the home. For example, a faulty or mislabeled product might mean a product liability claim, or a lax landlord that didn't follow New York fire safety codes may mean a claim for premises liability. We'll also look at workers' compensation, burn injuries resulting from a motor vehicle collision, and burn injuries that happen during utilitarian activities like shopping. Some of the causes for legal action will overlap in the following examples.
How About Product Liability and Burn Injuries?
We trust manufacturers to put out safe products, and they have a legal responsibility to do so. Products we use daily, whether fancy new kitchen appliances, electric and battery-powered devices, or even household cleaners, must be safe for consumers to use and need to function as intended and advertised. When a manufacturer fails in their responsibility to the public, consumers can be seriously hurt or even die because of it. Burn injuries from defective products can cause tremendous pain and financial hardships.
What Makes a Product Defective?
Products can fall short of expectations and safe use at any phase, such as during the design, manufacturing, or advertising stage. A failure at any point can put consumers at risk for injury by a defective product. Holding a manufacturer liable for injuries that result from the use of their product requires one of the elements mentioned above, such as:
Defective manufacture - A mistake during the manufacturing phase can cause fire, flame, or explosions which may burn a consumer. For example, a defective coffee maker or hot water heater may fracture and cause scalding burns if a vital step is missed during manufacturing. Faulty electrical wiring on a product can create a spark resulting in burn injuries, or improperly assembled batteries may leak, causing corrosive burns.
Defective design - If a product has a design defect, nothing in the manufacturing or advertising stage will be able to fix this because it's inherent to the product. The design defect will ruin the entire product line. For example, a vehicle with a gas tank that has a tendency to explode on impact, a hair dryer that catches fire when used at full capacity, or a sunscreen that doesn't protect from sunburn all have design defects.
Defective advertising - When it comes to defective advertising, most likely, a victim may sustain injuries because of a failure to warn about the product or because inadequate instructions are given on how to use it safely. For example, an electrical device used for personal grooming that doesn't warn of the danger of electrical shock if submerged in water or a food processor that fails to tell consumers that the high setting should only be used while supervised.
Defective product manufacturers, distributors, or even retailers that sell products that cause severe burn injuries may be liable to pay for damages.
How About Premises Liability and Burn Injuries?
We assume we'll be safe when we visit a friend's place, go shopping, or dine out in a restaurant. That’s because we assume the property owner uses care and takes responsibility to correct any dangerous conditions that exist on the property or, at least, will give us a heads-up to watch out for an issue they're aware could be hazardous. It's not just common sense; it's a legal duty. Suppose a property owner fails to fix dangerous conditions or fails to take steps to ensure visitors and guests can't access the area where danger exists. In that case, they may be liable to pay for any injuries that result from their negligence. This legal concept is known as premises liability.
How Do You Prove Premises Liability?
The burden of proof for a premises liability claim lies on the injured party. While the duty of care is generally easy to prove (if you own a business open to the public or invite friends over to visit your home, you've established a duty of care to ensure your guests don't come to harm), a burn victim still has to prove the property owner knew or should have known of the danger. Here are elements that must be established for a successful premises liability claim:
- Property owners owe a duty of care and are responsible for the safety of guests, invitees, workers, and other third parties who are on the property for a legitimate reason.
- Property owners must take reasonable steps to ensure that visitors who are rightfully on the property aren't harmed.
- The property owner knew or should have known of the danger in time to protect visitors and didn't address the dangerous condition.
- A visitor or guest sustained an injury that resulted in damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering)
Premises liability claims can also be used to litigate injuries sustained in fires in apartment buildings, recreational facilities, leased or rented houses, venues, office buildings, and any other property that invites guests, visitors, staff, or business professionals onto the grounds.
In New York, landlords have specific guidelines for their responsibilities toward tenets. In general, they are responsible for providing a safe, habitable space for renters. This means they are obligated to make sure wiring, switches, plugs, and electrical appliances are in good working condition, so no fire hazards are present. Furthermore, landlords must keep the building up to code. For example, all fire safety devices (alarms, smoke detectors, fire escapes) should be regularly inspected, and fire exits should never be blocked.
Suppose a landlord was aware of faulty wiring or used the back stairs for storage, and a fire broke out. In that case, they may be liable for injuries and property loss due to their negligence. Our fire and burn injury lawyers in New York can review your case to see if you have an eligible claim.
How About Motor Vehicle Collisions and Burn Injuries?
New York is a no-fault insurance state, meaning injuries and lost wages resulting from a motor vehicle accident are generally covered by each party's personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. However, the nature of burn injuries is often severe, which means you may be able to step outside of the no-fault system to make a direct claim against the at-fault party's insurance company or directly against the other party in a civil case.
Under these circumstances, you may be eligible to ask for compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses related to the accident
- Mental and physical pain and suffering, which can be a considerable amount and isn't available through PIP
- Other economic losses tied to the accident, such as lost wages and travel expenses
An important note about New York law is that the state follows the pure comparative fault rule. If you have a share of fault in the accident, any settlement or jury award will be reduced by the percentage of blame you have. For example, say you sustained $300,000 in damages, but you are 30% at fault for the accident. In that case, you would be eligible to receive $210,000, which is 70% of $300,000.
How About Workers' Compensation and Burn Injuries?
Suppose you were burned in a workplace accident. In that case, you should be entitled to workers' compensation benefits which will cover all medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages while you recover. Should you have permanent injuries that make it impossible to work, or your injuries make you unable to continue in your line of work, you may be entitled to total or partial disability benefits.
Unfortunately, you cannot recover compensation for pain and suffering when you're injured on the job. While workers' compensation is in place to protect workers, sometimes, you may have issues with an insurance company or an employer trying to get out of paying you fairly. If you're in dispute with one of these parties, you may need the help of our fire and burn injury lawyers in New York. We can work with you to file an appeal, advise you, and prepare you for any interviews with upper-level judges who will determine the outcome of your appeal.
While you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer in New York under workers' compensation laws, you may be able to file a third-party claim if some outside entity is responsible for your burn injuries. For example, if a machine malfunctions and explodes, you might be able to sue the manufacturer of the machine under product liability law. A third-party lawsuit would make you eligible to sue for pain and suffering as well as other damages. When in doubt about a workers' compensation claim for burn injuries, contact Morgan and Morgan Law Firm.
Filing a Burn injury Claim in New York
In New York, you have just three years to file a claim for a burn injury under the statute of limitations. This is the timeline you have to pursue a claim, and the countdown starts at the time of the accident. At Morgan and Morgan, our lawyers will work vigilantly to investigate the accident and determine all liable parties. Once we establish negligence, we work to build a solid case to ensure we recover financial compensation for all losses. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. You won't be responsible for any service fees unless we recover a settlement or win a verdict on your behalf.