When you think about the injuries that a person may suffer in a motor vehicle accident, your mind may go to broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, whiplash, or even internal injuries. Yet because car accidents frequently involve leaking chemicals, smoke, and fire, victims often suffer from burns after a crash.
If another person causes an accident, then they are responsible for the full range of losses suffered by others. Depending on the facts of the case, this may include burn injuries. Damages for a burn injury may include pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and other types of losses.
Megerdchian Law represents Californians who have been hurt in all types of accidents. We aggressively advocate for our clients’ right to compensation. Our law firm offers no-cost, no-obligation consultations, and never charges a fee unless we recover money for you.
Types of Burn Injuries
Burns are categorized based on how deep the damage to the skin is. There are three types of burn injuries that you may suffer in an accident:
- 1st Degree Burn: the least serious type, only the outer layer of the skin is affected. It may lead to redness and pain.
- 2nd Degree Burn: this type of burn affects both the top layer of skin (epidermis) as well as the second layer (dermis). It may lead to swelling and splotchy, red, or white skin. In addition, there may be severe pain and blisters. Deep second-degree burns may also cause scarring.
- 3rd Degree Burn: the most severe burn, the damage reaches the layer of fat beneath the epidermis and dermis. The skin may look leathery, with black, brown, or white burned areas. This type of burn can destroy nerves and cause numbness.
Burns can be relatively minor, or life-threatening. If the burn is deep, widespread, or if you are having trouble breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Burns are treated using a variety of methods, depending on the severity of the burn. Treatments may include providing fluids to prevent dehydration, pain medication, burn creams and ointments, and water-based treatments. For second and third-degree burns, surgical procedures may be necessary to ease the flow of blood around the wound, to replace scar tissue using skin grafts, or even to improve the appearance of scars through plastic surgery.
More serious burns may be linked to a number of complications, including scarring or ridging, fluid loss, bacterial infection, breathing problems, and low body temperature. They may also cause bone and joint problems, such as if scar tissue causes the skin to shorten and tighten.
These burns can arise from a number of causes, including:
- Chemical burns, from corrosive chemicals;
- Thermal burns, from flames or hot objects;
- Scalds, from hot fluids or steam;
- Electrical burns, from charged wiring and metals;
- Inhalation burns, from breathing in smoke.
If your burn injury was caused by another person, then you may be able to seek financial compensation for any injuries that you have suffered. For example, if you suffered second and third-degree burns when your vehicle caught on fire after a car accident, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Can I Recover for My Burn Injuries?
In California, personal injury cases are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the at-fault person (defendant) owed the victim (plaintiff) a duty to use reasonable care;
- Breach: the defendant violated, or breached, that duty in some way;
- Causation: this violation was the proximate, or but-for cause of the plaintiff’s injuries;
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses.
If you can demonstrate that the other party was negligent, then you will be able to recover for your losses. For example, you were driving when another vehicle makes a left turn across the road without looking, slamming into the side of your vehicle. You suffer chemical burns from fluids that leaked from the car after the crash. In this situation, you could file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company because they were negligent in making a left turn without looking, and their negligence caused your injuries.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover compensation for your tangible and intangible losses. This may include past and future medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, scarring and disfigurement, and pain and suffering. In some cases, you may even be able to seek punitive damages, which are meant to punish someone who acted recklessly or intentionally.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
After being in a collision, you may be frightened, hurt, and overwhelmed. This can make it hard to know what to do. Following these steps can help to ensure that you get proper diagnosis and treatment and that your rights are protected.
First, seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t think that you were hurt badly. Many types of injuries aren’t apparent right away, such as damage to your lungs from inhaling smoke. The sooner that you see a doctor, the more quickly you will be able to get treatment for your injuries.
Second, if you are able to do so, gather information at the scene. Take down the other driver’s contact information as well as their insurance, driver’s license, and license plate details. If possible, get the names and contact information for any witnesses.
Third, use your smartphone to take pictures and videos of the scene as well as of your own injuries. This may be important evidence in a personal injury case and can show details like a fluid dripping that you may not otherwise remember.
Fourth, call 911 for a serious accident. Talk to the police officers who respond, sticking to the facts. Ask for a copy of the police report.
Fifth, do not apologize to the other driver, even if you believe that the accident may have been at least partially your fault. Any admission that you make could be used against you. Similarly, do not sign anything from the insurance company or give a statement to an insurance adjuster.
Sixth, consult with an experienced Glendale personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your crash. Most personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations, where you can explain what happened and get advice on your options and rights. Your lawyer can handle all communications with the insurance company and protect your right to compensation.