Our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses Burns and Settlements
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Posted in News & Articles | Posted by: George Heppner - San Diego Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, our San Diego personal injury lawyer may be able to help you get the compensation to which you are entitled. It is often difficult to make an accurate prediction about a burn injury settlement. Prediction should be based on the severity of your injury, the intentions of the defendant and the extent to which he or she is able to pay the settlement. Burn injuries often have higher settlement values than traditional personal injury settlements due to pain and permanent scarring.
Calculating a Settlement
There are various considerations when calculating a burn injury settlement. If you have a reasonable idea of your medical expenses and potential income loss, you can use a settlement calculator to help determine an appropriate settlement amount. Your San Diego personal injury lawyer may also be able to help you determine the amount that is most likely to be approved by a judge while meeting your needs.
Location and Circumstances of the Accident
Both sides negotiate in a settlement based on what they believe a judge will award at trial. How and where your injuries occurred is important because it affects the degree of the defendant’s liability. Burn injury cases are significantly in severity and nature and may take place as workplace injuries, faulty consumer goods, arson or assault and other types of negligent accidents. A workplace injury may result in a plaintiff being burned in a way that would have been preventable if the defendant was not acting negligently.
Availability of Punitive Damages
If it is determined that the defendant acted negligently or intentionally, you may be eligible to receive punitive damages as well as compensation for your injuries. Punitive damages exist to punish those who acted with gross negligence or intent to harm. A wealthy defendant will be required to pay higher punitive damages to ensure that the punishment is effective. Defendants who intentionally burned the plaintiff will almost always face punitive damages. Punitive damages are harder to pursue in cases of gross negligence. An example of gross negligence would be a company that did not properly test its chemical products, resulting in a lasting burn for the plaintiff. If you use a product and are badly burned, the manufacturer could be required to pay hefty punitive damages. The threat of punitive damages generally makes a defendant more likely to settle for a higher amount than he otherwise would have.
Physical and Emotional Pain and Suffering
If you have experienced both physical and emotional pain and suffering, you may obtain compensation for that as well as practical damages such as loss of income and medical expenses. Burn injuries result in many of the same types of damages as other personal injury cases, but they can also be extremely painful and lead to permanent disfigurement. A defendant in such cases must provide compensation for the practical damages that were sustained as well as the cost of the physical and emotional anguish you have experienced. A burn often continues to cause pain years after a settlement is made, so it is important to factor these physical and emotional damages into the settlement process. The extent and nature of the disfigurement will be considered when determining the amount of compensation a defendant owes. If your face was badly burned, for example, you would receive a much larger award than if you sustained a small scar on your arm.
Burn Injury Settlement Examples
Product liability settlements in cases where a faulty product resulted in a severe burn are commonly settled for figures of $1 million and more. If you were burned by a highly flammable linen product and suffered third-degree burns and permanent scarring, you may expect a settlement of approximately $4 million.
A hotel that allowed a water system to reach scalding levels once faced a settlement of $275,000 when the victim received second-degree burns. One woman received upwards of $600,000 when she suffered third-degree burns from scalding coffee at a fast food chain restaurant. Another plaintiff received nearly $1 million after fumes from a propane tank that had been overfilled ignited and caused severe third-degree burns to much of his body. In general, the degree to which the defendant could have been expected to act differently has a strong influence on your claim. While the degree to which you were disfigured and injured plays a significant role in determining a claim, a trial judge will also look at whether the defendant was reasonably liable for your accident. While intentional burns are often easy to determine, cases where a manufacturer’s products were not properly tested present more of a gray area.
Workers’ Compensation Settlements
If you were burned in a workplace accident that was not the result of employer negligence, you will typically be paid by a workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Workers’ compensation claims are often much lower than personal injury civil lawsuits because punitive damages are not a factor. Standards for workers’ compensation cases vary from one state to another, but if you are not disabled or scarred in a disfiguring way, you are not likely to receive a high settlement. The standard payment for those with second- and third-degree burns with some scarring on a limited area of the body is approximately $40,000.
Contact a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer
Contact George Charles Heppner today at (619) 235-4300 to speak with a San Diego personal injury lawyer you can rely on.