Money damages may be available for losses from burn injuries like general damages and special damages and in narrow circumstances, exemplary damages.
Catastrophic burn injuries are horrific, expensive, unimaginably painful and life-altering. When a Louisianan sustains burns because of the negligence, recklessness or aggression of another person or entity, the at-fault party is liable in a personal injury lawsuit for the harm they caused.
Monetary damages for a serious burn injury are likely to be far more extensive than just medical bills, and those can be very substantial. A myriad of physical, mental and economic losses can ripple out from the original wrongful act that caused the burns.
Circumstances in which burns often happen
Burns can occur in a variety of situations such as:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Use of defective or dangerous products
- Products used in a dangerous way because the manufacturer failed to warn against it
- Workplace burns
- Sunburn or burns from other sources of ultraviolet radiation
- Radiation exposure such as from X-rays
- Electrical exposure
- Chemical exposure
- Medical malpractice from negligent treatment involving heat or radiation
- Contact with hot liquids, steam or surfaces
- And others
Measurable monetary expenses and losses from burn injuries
Financial losses are likely high, depending on the severity of the injuries. For example:
- Past and future medical bills, including those for initial trauma treatment, hospitalizations, skin grafts, plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, burn center admission and other treatments
- Pharmaceutical charges
- Mental health care
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Physical rehabilitation
- Medical equipment and supplies for wound dressing
- Home health care
- Home or car adaptations
- Past and future lost wages
- Reduced or lost earning capacity
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Long-term care services
Real but difficult-to-measure losses
Mayo Clinic explains that burns are a type of tissue damage, most serious when it reaches the fat layer (third-degree burn). Some of the physical, emotional and lifestyle losses that can result include:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Blistering, redness and swelling
- Nerve damage or destruction, causing numbness
- Infection, including sepsis
- Organ failure
- Problems with breathing, body temperature and hydration
- Joint problems
- Mobility problems
- Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and other mental or emotional impairments
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disability
Plaintiff’s investigation into potential defendants and comprehensive damages
A personal injury attorney can investigate the incident to discover all potentially responsible parties such as insurers, drivers, product manufacturers and sellers, physicians and other medical personnel, utility companies, landlords and property owners, and others.
Legal counsel must carefully analyze what short- and long-term expenses, injuries and other losses the victim will have, as recovery from a serious burn incident can take months or years or cause permanent disability. In Louisiana, the plaintiff may seek money damages in court to compensate for losses stemming from harm caused by the negligence of another.
Special damages in Louisiana are generally those that are financially measurable such as lost wages or medical bills. General damages are also available if the victim can show real, foreseeable losses that do not have a dollar amount attached such as pain and suffering, loss of life’s enjoyment or negative impact on lifestyle. For example, do disfiguring facial scars prevent the victim from socializing because of embarrassment or anxiety, causing loneliness and depression?
If the burns resulted from a car crash involving a drunk or drugged driver, Louisiana statute allows the victim to seek exemplary (punitive) damages, which are money awarded to punish the wrongdoer and hold them up as a deterrent example to others.
The attorneys at The Townsley Law Firm in Lake Charles represent people in surrounding parishes and in southwest Louisiana as well as across the state, in Texas and nationally who have suffered serious injuries in a wide variety of circumstances because of the negligent or otherwise wrongful behavior of others.