Assessing Damages in Burn Injury Lawsuits
A person’s life can easily turn upside down when they suffer severe burns in a fire accident. Victims are often consumed with pain and fear, as they cope with physical, emotional, and financial challenges.
That is why it’s important to learn all that you can about your rights and receive legal counsel if you or a loved one becomes a burn victim. It is also why you need to consult with a Los Angeles burn injury attorney right away. Doing so can spare you the burdens of dealing with the upset and stress of burn-related injuries and the costs yourself.
When pursuing a burn injury lawsuit, it’s crucial to understand how damages are determined. This is important if you’re seeking to receive a fair settlement.
Therefore, let’s look at how the damages are calculated and assessed.
1. Severity of the burns
The severity of burn injuries is a primary factor considered when assessing damages. There are four categories of burns ranging from first to fourth degree, with each subsequent level reflecting increased intensity and damage to the skin and underlying tissue.
Higher-degree burns often require more extensive treatments and longer healing periods, which can contribute to increased claims for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
2. Impact on quality of life
Damages in burn injury lawsuits also take into account how the injury has affected the victim’s quality of life. This can include present and future physical limitations, disfigurement or scarring. It also involves emotional challenges related to self-esteem, relationships, or work opportunities. This type of impact affects how much in non-economic and economic damages you can pursue.
3. Current and future medical costs
Medical costs resulting from burn injuries can be significant, especially when a patient requires ongoing treatments. The treatments often require skin grafts or reconstructive surgeries. Damages typically cover past medical expenses incurred during initial treatments as well as the projected future costs for long-term care or rehabilitation.
4. Lost wages and earning capacity
Burn victims who are unable to work due to their injuries are normally entitled to compensation for lost wages during recovery. Additionally, if a victim suffers from a long-term impairment that affects their ability to return to work, they often can receive damages – damages that relate to their diminished earning capacity.
5. Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering is a non-economic form of damages that addresses the physical pain, emotional anguish, and psychological distress that a victim may experience as a result of their burns. This type of compensation is based on the duration and intensity of pain, the severity of scarring or disfigurement, and long-term emotional or psychological effects.
When assessing damages, your attorney will cover the types of compensation (economic and non-economic damages) you can receive in your settlement amount. There is no cap on personal injury cases of this kind in California. So, you need to work with a lawyer who understands how to assess and calculate damages that will cover your needs across all aspects of your claim amount.
What types of compensation can I receive after a burn injury?
After a burn injury, you may be entitled to several types of compensation. These damages, some of which have already been mentioned, include:
Medical expenses: These costs cover any medical treatment you’ve received as a result of your injury, such as hospital stays, surgeries, medications, or rehabilitation. The medical costs you’re faced with now and in the future account for the largest part of your burn injury settlement claim.
Lost wages: If your injury has caused you to miss work or has reduced your ability to earn an income, you’ll receive compensation for lost wages. This calculation is crucial; as you need to make sure you’re fully covered for the economic losses and quality of life it represents.
Pain and suffering: Burn injuries can be incredibly painful, and the emotional trauma associated with them may be long-lasting. Compensation for pain and suffering is intended to compensate you for these non-economic damages.
Therefore, while you’re recovering, it’s helpful to record the emotional stress you may be experiencing as well as how your injuries have changed how you interact with others.
This category covers the treatment you receive for anxiety, depression, and physical discomfort and limitations. It covers physical disfigurement and the related treatments unique to burn injury patients.
Punitive damages: If the other party’s actions were particularly egregious, you may also receive punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the responsible party for their notably negligent behavior.
According to California Civil Code 3294, punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff if a lawyer can show clear and convincing evidence that the defendant in the lawsuit is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice.
Oppression, per California law, is despicable conduct that leads to cruel and unfair hardship – a conscious and reckless disregard of the victim’s rights.
Fraud, when referring to punitive damages, means deceit, intentional representation, or concealment of a material fact, which any of which deprived the victim of legal or property rights, or led to injury.
Malice, in punitive damages cases, refers to conduct that is intended to cause injury, or despicable conduct that disregards the rights or safety of other people.
Therefore, when burn injury attorneys assess damages, they need to show clear and convincing proof that the other party behaved in an oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious manner to punish the defendant and persuade the court to award punitive damages.
There is no cap on punitive damages for personal injury claims in California.
Why It’s Important to Work with a Burn Attorney
An attorney is equipped to help a burn victim overcome the challenges they face during the treatment process, empowering them at a time when they[re feeling both vulnerable and helpless.
Hope and healing are possible. To ensure success in a burn injury case, you need to speak to an attorney. Give them the reins when it comes to negotiating a burn injury claim. That way, you can regain control of your life and realize a better outcome.
A Few Final Words
Needless to say, overcoming the challenges of a burn injury is not easy. It requires physical therapy, countless doctor visits, and ongoing recovery. An attorney will provide the guidance and support you need to achieve justice and move forward with confidence.