Burn injuries are miserable, ranging from sunburns and stove burns to more serious third- and fourth-degree burn injuries that could result in long-term damage or be life-threatening. Burn injuries can and do occur due to non-work-related activities.
Each year, according to the United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more than 5,000 people are hospitalized because of getting burned at work. For Texas workers, burn injuries are more rampant because of the thriving oil, gas, and construction industries here and the increased dangers on those job sites. The negligence of other individuals, companies, and entities can lead to severe injuries that require extensive medical care.
The Types and Degrees of Burn Injuries
To understand the severity of burn injuries, it is critical to know about the types and degrees. The three main types of burns are:
- Chemical Burns: These happen when a corrosive compound, such as acids, bases, or oxidizers, comes into contact with soft tissue (skin, eyes, ears, or lungs).
- Heat Burns: Heat, or thermal burns, are caused by contact with fire, steam, or hot liquids, like water or grease, as well as by touching hot pipes or engines.
- Electrical Burns: These are a result of direct contact with either an AC or DC current in a live electrical socket or wire, falling into electrified water, or a lightning strike.
Burn Injuries Have Four Classifications
Medical professionals grade burn injuries into four classifications, with each level representing increasing severity.
- First-Degree Burns: Categorized as the least severe, first-degree burns, like sunburns, while still painful, impact only the outermost layer of skin and typically heal in a couple of days.
- Second-Degree Burns: Second-degree burns affect the dermis and epidermis, the two outermost layers of the skin. Severe pain and blisters ensue, and a skin graft may need to be performed, depending on where the burn occurred on the body.
- Third-Degree Burns: These burns cause excessive damage to all layers of the skin, as well as underlying tissue and nerves, which is extremely painful. They can also be disfiguring and will require a lengthy recovery.
- Fourth-Degree Burns: These are dangerous, life-threatening burns that go deeper into muscles, tendons, and bones. If not fatal, fourth-degree burns often lead to a complete loss of function in the affected body parts.
What Causes Fires and Burn Injuries at Work?
Burn injuries that happen because there are issues at the workplace can involve several root causes. For Texas oilfield workers, burns on the job are often caused by explosions, which result from fires. This not only causes serious injuries that require surgery and physical therapy but also leads to a loss of work, earnings, mobility, and normal life for those affected and their loved ones.
Common causes of Texas fire and explosion workplace accidents include:
- Chemical or fuel spills. These create highly flammable situations. Chemicals and fuels are often poured into trucks and equipment, and even a small spill is a fire hazard.
- Equipment is not properly maintained. Poorly maintained equipment, such as valves or hoses that are cracked or leak, is a huge cause of fires – and failing to inspect and maintain these items is a common tactic employers use to save time and money while skimping out on worker safety.
- Stormy weather. Thunderstorms produce ground lightning, which can then cause fires if it strikes certain equipment and other items.
- OSHA safety violations. If OSHA workplace regulations are not followed, fires are more likely, and employees’ lives are put at an increased risk.
What Steps Should Be Taken After a Burn Injury at Work?
The first step Texas employees who suffered burn injuries on the job should take, of course, is to immediately seek medical help and protect their physical well-being. There should be no delay in taking this first step. Even minor burns can lead to blisters, swelling, and infections; and some burns, such as electrical burns, can cause internal damage.
Then, report the burn injury to a supervisor and/or your employer. If they were not at the scene of the incident, notify them of the burn injury as soon as possible.
Bringing a Lawsuit for Burn Injuries
If burn injuries are not sustained at work and instead are caused elsewhere by another’s negligence, then filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover financial damages may be an option. A burn injury victim may be entitled to financial compensation if there are medical bills, lost wages, and other costs or damages.
Your burn injuries lawyer will help you collect any evidence needed to prove the amount of damages the plaintiff is seeking. Damages for medical bills and lost time at work are easier to show through receipts and pay stubs; however, when asking for pain and suffering, it cannot generally be quantified by receipts, and that is another area where an experienced personal injury attorney can accurately determine how much the victim should seek in damages.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits for Burn Injuries in Texas
In Texas, when a family loses a loved one to severe burn injuries, they have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are complex and highly emotional. Since your priceless loved one is gone, why should you focus on a lawsuit while grieving?
Justice for a Deceased Loved One
Someone should be held accountable for the unexpected loss of a loved one. Accidents can be tragic. However, when a severe burn accident is caused by the careless disregard of others or negligence, the responsible parties should be held liable in civil court.
In some cases, a criminal case may be pending or ongoing. Surviving family members do not have to wait for a criminal case to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Prevent Future Deaths
A wrongful death claim can be a deterrent against future negligent deaths. The amount of compensation awarded to the family represents the extent of the wrongdoing by the liable party or parties.
Individuals and business entities periodically engage in negligent behavior that can cause serious burn injuries. In some cases, employees may be seeking to cut corners and be more efficient. In others, individuals simply act with complete disregard for those who depend on their attention to detail and safety. A wrongful death lawsuit can make a huge impact on the future safety of others.
Unexpected Financial Burdens
Losing a loved one causes various unexpected expenses. If the deceased was the main source of income, some families can be left to face financial hardship. A wrongful death claim can help ease the financial burden by recovering:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Unpaid medical expenses relating to the accident
- Loss of consortium
- Future loss of income
Every burn injury claim is unique and may qualify for different recoverable losses.
A wrongful death lawsuit cannot ease the grief of surviving family members; however, obtaining justice for the deceased may provide some much-needed closure.
How Much Compensation is Available for a Burn Injury?
There is no set amount of compensation available for Texas burn injury victims; however, there are several factors to examine when calculating the correct amount, including:
- Injury severity
- Length of recovery time
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Shared fault for the incident
- Total amount of missed work
Your burn injury lawyer in Texas will examine the facts of your case and enlist assistance from trusted medical and economic experts who will help prove liability and damages to ensure you get the maximum possible compensation.
Burn Injury Statistics
According to the American Burn Association, there are roughly 40,000 hospitalizations a year due to burn injuries. The cost of treating burn and fire-related injuries is $7.5 billion annually in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are also the third most common reason for fatal injuries in the home.
In terms of work-related burn injuries, Texas continues to be the nation’s leader. Numerous workplace burns occur in the state’s numerous oilfields, where personnel is surrounded by highly combustible fossil fuels.
How to Get Help After a Burn Injury
Texans suffering from a serious burn injury that occurred on the job should protect themselves financially by contacting a personal injury attorney for legal advice about the best way to seek compensation. All consultations are free and confidential and do not obligate you to work with our law firm. We are here to help.