Burn Injury Treatment and Expenses


January 23, 2018 / Catastrophic Injuries

Serious burn injuries are rife with complications—some physical and medical, some psychological, some financial. A severely burned injury victim can end up permanently disabled and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If the burn injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may have an actionable lawsuit for lost income and other damages.

The number of those burned because of workplace accidents runs well into the thousands. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 16,000 injuries were reported for 2013 because of industrial mishaps that created thermal burns. From 2000 to 2013, injuries serious enough to cause lost time at work happened to approximately 32,000 workers.

Burn Injuries Are Extremely Costly to Treat

Burn injuries are often expensive to treat because a serious injury can cause multiple medical problems. Some of the physical injuries that can result from burn injuries include:

  • Skin damage, skin loss, and scarring and disfigurement
  • Contracture (skin tightening that limits future mobility)
  • Damage to soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and muscles
  • Damage to bones (with severe burn injuries)
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of vision
  • Lung damage
  • Other internal organ damage, often from medical complications.

Burn injuries often require hospital stays that are much longer than stays for non-burn injuries; the average is 8.1 days for burn victims and 4.5 days for those with non-burn injuries. Costs run much higher as well, often more than twice as high for burn-injury sufferers. The American Burn Association has stated that a burn accident survivor with 40 to 60 percent of their body burned will be in the hospital an average of 54 days, at an average cost of $780,000. If burns are more serious, costs can skyrocket. Severe burns without complications cost $1.6 million on average.

But complications do increase medical costs quickly:

  • Burn injuries are vulnerable to infections, which can add up to $120,000 in costs (occurs, on average, in 35 percent of cases).
  • Skin grafts and slow healing can increase costs to $110,000 (occurs, on average, in 32 percent of cases).
  • Fragile skin and skin breakdown can increase costs to $107,000 (occurs, on average, in 55 percent of cases).
  • PSTD and other psychological issues can add $75,000 to hospital costs (occurs, on average, in 57 percent of cases).
  • Disfigurement, scarring, and contracture can increase costs to $35,000 (occurs, on average, in 66 percent of cases).

Serious burn injuries can require a multitude of specialists:

  • Surgeons, including plastic and reconstructive surgeons
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Pain management specialists
  • Wound-care professionals
  • Various types of therapists, including physical, occupational, and speech, depending on the injuries
  • Mental health professionals and social workers.

Such specialized care is not inexpensive. On top of that, the many medications—at the minimum, pain relief and antibiotics—are costly, along with specialized wound dressings, pressure bandages to help limit scarring, and blood transfusions.

Post-hospital, costs can mount if it is necessary to modify the home or the family vehicle to accommodate the new disability. Other items that can add to costs are wheelchairs or walkers, prosthetics, and orthotics. Often, specialized home health care is required as well.

Additional Significant Costs

The family of the burn victim can suffer from financial privation after the injury, if the victim was the breadwinner. However, if the injury was caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness, a number of economic and non-economic damages are recoverable. “Economic damages” are things such as past and future medical bills; the cost of rehabilitation, assistive devices and prostheses; and lost wages. Typical “non-economic” damages are compensation for pain and suffering, and for mental anguish resulting from the injury.

But facts and figures do not come close to touching the heart of the matter. The human costs—the burn victim’s physical and emotional suffering, as well as the emotional pain of family members—mean that everyone suffers when a serious burn injury occurs.

At Stephenson Rife, we believe justice matters.

If someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the situation which made you suffer a burn injury, they, and not you, should have to bear the costs associated with your treatment and recovery. Let our Indianapolis burn injuries lawyers fight for you. The experience of Mike Stephenson and the resources of Stephenson Rife can be your means of achieving justice when you are the victim of someone’s negligence or recklessness. What is your next step? Call 1-317-825-5200 or use our online contact form for a free evaluation of your claim.

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