Truck Accident Case
We took more than 60 depositions in five different states. Because of Stephenson’s tireless advocacy, shortly before the trial was to commence, the defendants settled the case for $48.5 million.
Indiana Burn Injury Lawyer
Our Indiana burn injury lawyer has the experience you need to help you get the justice you deserve.
If someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the situation which caused you to suffer a burn injury, they should have to bear the costs associated with your treatment and recovery.
You probably don’t give it much thought as you go through your daily routine, but the fact is that every day you encounter numerous situations which could result in a burn injury. From preparing breakfast in the kitchen, to being involved in a highway collision on your commute to work, to experiencing a chemical burn in the workplace – your environment is likely to be full of conditions and situations that could subject you or a family member to a burn.
Some burn injuries can be fatal. Deaths from fire has been climbing in the U.S. since 2012, reaching 3,704 in 2019. The American Burn Association estimates that each year around 450,000 people in the U.S. receive burn treatment in a hospital, either in-patient or in the emergency room. Many more seek treatment in clinics and doctors’ offices.
Was it Negligence? Our Burn Injury Attorney Can Determine Fault in a Burn Injury Case.
Ask Our Burn Injury Attorney if You Have a Case
Some burns occur in unavoidable accidents, but others are caused by someone’s negligence or recklessness. When this is the case, a personal injury attorney can help the family receive compensation from the responsible parties – compensation that can offset the high cost of treating the medical complications caused by catastrophic burn injuries and provide some measure of relief for the pain and suffering they cause.
Successfully litigating personal injury cases in Indiana since 1982, Mike Stephenson a burn injury lawyer in Indiana, offers compassionate counsel while aggressively seeking justice from those who have injured his clients. Call Mike at (317) 680-2501.
Indiana Burn Injury Lawyer Handles Burn Injury Claims
What Can I Expect From Working With an Indiana Burn Injury Lawyer?
At Stephenson Rife, you can expect compassion, intelligence and expertise when dealing with our Indiana burn injury lawyer. We have filed lawsuits on behalf of many burn injury victims and are aggressive about representing their rights under the law.
To win your case, we would have to show the defendant was negligent and the existence of the following elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty to take reasonable care not to cause you harm.
- The defendant breached this duty and failed to exercise this care.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages as a result.
To prove negligence, we would investigate your case, gather evidence such as from photos and surveillance videos, interview witnesses and first responders, examine police and medical reports, and hire expert witnesses to reconstruct the accident and how your burns negatively impact your life.
Damages You May Recover Through a Burn Injury Lawsuit
What Are Potential Settlements in a Burn Injury Case?
There is a wide range of damage amounts victims can be awarded in a burn injury lawsuit, from the thousands to the millions of dollars. As with any personal injury, it’s very difficult to make an accurate prediction as to what a burn injury settlement will turn out to be. The biggest factors are: the severity of the burn injury, the intentions of the person or company who caused the burns (the defendant) and the insurance available and extent to which a defendant can pay a settlement. Legal research shows that burn injuries tend to have higher settlement value due to the pain involved and permanent scarring. Have more questions on the settlement process? Visit our FAQ page.
Damage awards that you may collect for a successful burn injury lawsuit in Indiana include compensatory damages that cover your economic and noneconomic losses, and the possibility of punitive damages as well.
Economic damages (also called “special damages”) are for the monetary losses that result from your injuries. Examples include:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost income from being unable to work and for reduced future ability to earn
- Property damage related to the burn
Noneconomic damages (also called “general damages”) are for damages that do not have a specific dollar value, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium.
Punitive damages may be awarded in rare circumstances as well. These are intended to punish a defendant for especially malicious or intentional actions and to deter similar conduct from happening in the future. Punitive damages are capped at three times the compensatory damage award or $50,000, whichever is greater.
In cases where you did something that contributed to your burn injury, you may still collect damages if you are less than 51% at fault, but damages will be reduced according to the percentage of fault you bear.
Steps to Maximize Your Award in a Burn Injury Lawsuit
Indiana requires that you take steps to minimize or “mitigate” the harm you suffered. To do so, you should follow your doctor’s orders and avoid activities that might aggravate your injury or slow your recovery time. You should also keep track of all your medical expenses and how your injuries impact your life.
Why Should I File a Burn Injury Lawsuit?
After a severe burn injury, your life is forever changed. You may have limited mobility, follow-up surgeries and large medical bills, and a reduction in your ability to work and earn a living. A burn injury can mean the end of a career, with years of financial hardship. That’s why victims need to file a burn injury lawsuit – to protect themselves financially and protect their family’s future. To learn more about filing a burn injury lawsuit, contact Mike Stephenson at (317) 680-2501.
What Is the Source of Most Indiana Burn Injuries?
Using the figures on admissions to burn centers, we can make some assumptions about burns in general. Listed here, in descending order, are the causes of most burns: fire or flames, scalding, contact with a hot surface, electricity and chemicals.
Where Do Most Burns Happen?
Burn Injuries in Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents account for 300 burn fatalities each year. When cars or trucks collide, the gasoline in their fuel tanks can ignite, quickly engulfing the vehicles in flames. The occupants may have difficulty getting out and away from the fire due to injuries from the collision or because they are trapped inside by damage to the car. Motorcycle accidents can also cause burns, by contact with the hot exhaust pipe or muffler.
Burn Injuries at Work
The workplace is the next most likely setting for a burn injury. Nine percent of burns are occupational injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposes strict safety standards on employers; nevertheless, workplace fires and explosions kill 200 and injure more than 5,000 workers annually. Electrical burns are most common, caused by arcing or explosion. Some employees work near boilers or hot machinery that can cause thermal burns. Restaurant workers are especially prone to thermal burns, from deep fryers and grills. Chemical burns are also a hazard in some industrial settings where caustic chemicals and acids are used. You can read here about how Mike Stephenson helped some clients who were injured by electricity while on the job.
Burn Injuries at Home
The vast majority of burns occur at home – 69%, according to the American Burn Association. The Red Cross reports that American homes suffer an unwanted fire every 10 seconds, and every 60 seconds they suffer a fire serious enough to call the fire department. Cooking is the primary cause of home fires, followed by heat sources (such as portable space heaters and wood stoves) and electrical malfunction. Faulty electrical wiring, lighting and appliances cause hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars in property damage each year. Clothes dryers, extension cords, and battery chargers are typical hazards.
Who Is Responsible in a Burn Injury Case?
In many cases, burns are caused by negligence. The burn injury attorneys of Stephenson Rife in Indiana can assess the conditions that were present at the time of your injury to determine whether another person or entity was responsible and whether you may seek damages from them in court.
Companies which ignore workplace safety regulations, fail to provide sufficient training, or store chemicals or other materials in an unsafe fashion can be held liable for burn accidents. Even when the injured worker is receiving workers’ comp benefits, compensation may be sought through a workplace injury lawsuit against a third party who was responsible for causing or contributing to the injury — for example, the manufacturer of a defective product used on the job, or a subcontractor.
Defective products cause fires in residences and on the highway, as well as in industrial settings. Household products recalled due to fire hazard range from pre-lit Christmas trees to carpeting. Defective gas tanks or fuel lines and battery malfunction can cause vehicle fires. Even electric cars are at risk of fire from their battery packs. Manufacturers can be held liable when they produce items that cause injury to the consumer.
Sometimes burns happen on properties that do not meet current fire codes or which do not have adequate escape routes in case of fire. In these instances, the property owner can be named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages for burn injuries.
Why You Need a Skilled Burn Injury Lawyer for Severe Burns
Severe burns, often classified as third-degree or advanced second-degree burns, can happen under dramatic circumstances that radically upset us while also calling for immediate action. After the victim’s initial ride to the local emergency department, doctors and other medical personnel must make a number of decisions quickly that will ease pain, reduce the possibilities of scarring, balance the levels of fluids in the body, and prevent infections. If the burns are serious enough, it must also be determined whether the patient should be sent to a specialized burn care center. Usually this is done within the first 24 hours.
What Can Go Wrong After A Severe Burn?
Third-degree burns are marked by injury to all layers of the skin, meaning the epidermis (top layer), dermis, and underlying tissue, which may also mean damage to muscles. Advanced second-degree burns injure more than the outer layer of skin as well.
Severe burns leave the body wide open to a number of medical complications, such as:
- Our skin is primarily meant to be a barrier against infectious agents. When the barrier is broken down or no longer exists, pathogens of many kinds can enter the body and wreak havoc. Infections are a common complication of serious burns. If an infection becomes established, septicemia (blood poisoning) and septic shock are real possibilities because pathogens may enter the bloodstream. Both septicemia and septic shock can lead to multiple-organ failure and, eventually, death.
- Hypovolemia (low blood volume) and fluid loss. When a burn injures blood vessels, it can cause fluid loss and mean a lowered amount of blood in the body. A lack of sufficient bodily fluids and blood volume can create an electrolyte imbalance (levels of elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium) that lead to heart irregularities and hypovolemic shock. Managing fluid volumes and electrolytes are critical to burn care.
- Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). With severe burns that are classified as third degree, burn victims often need to remain bedridden. Extended periods of bed rest can increase the risk of blood clots because blood collects in veins due to the lack of bodily mobility. Both DVT, which often occurs in leg veins, and pulmonary embolisms (clots in the lungs that often arise from DVT clots that travel through the body) are risks arising from the lack of mobility. Pulmonary embolisms in particular can kill. Treatments to prevent clots include blood thinners and compression devices placed on the limbs to keep blood moving.
- Compartment syndrome. A bodily compartment is an enclosed space containing nerves, blood vessels, and muscles, surrounded by a layer of tissue called fascia. Fascia does not stretch, so if pressure increases inside the compartment (perhaps from swelling and other fluid problems), the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles inside the compartment may become compressed. Such compression can mean a lack of oxygen due to decreased blood flow, damaging muscles and nerves. Compartment syndrome occurs most often in forearms and lower legs. It is a medical emergency with immediate surgery required.
- Breathing problems. If the burn situation involved breathing smoke, hot air, or caustic chemicals, damage to the lungs and airways can result in respiratory failure.
- Critically low body temperature (hypothermia). If a large portion of skin is damaged, the body loses heat because our skin helps control our body’s temperature. If hypothermia is serious enough and lasts for an extended period of time, death can be the result.
- Seizures are a secondary result of the following problems: low levels of oxygen in the blood, electrolyte imbalances, and the accumulation of toxins in the body, especially from septicemia and septic shock.
- Psychological problems and PTSD. A serious burn can be emotionally devastating as well as physically difficult. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise from memories of the burn experience and the pain. Anxiety and depression resulting from scarring and disfigurement can also occur. Psychological therapy is usually needed alongside physical therapy to bring a person back to wholeness after a severe burn.
Criteria for Treatment at a Burn Care Center
Moving the patient to a burn care center is essential for serious burns because such care centers have the knowledge and capabilities to best prevent complications from arising.
Some of the criteria used to determine whether a burn victim should be sent to a burn care center are:
- Severe burns on greater than 10 percent of body surface (advanced second-degree burns, which are marked by blistering and tissue damage beyond the top layer of the skin)
- Less severe burns on more than 20 percent of the body’s surface (more than 10 percent of the body’s surface if the patient is older than 50)
- Burn victims less than 10 years old
- Burns on the face, extremities, breasts, or genitals
- Electrical and chemical burns
- Burns involving trauma to airways
- Burns in patients with other health problems that may cause treatment difficulties
- Patients with multiple traumatic injuries along with burns.
If you or someone you care about experiences more than a first-degree burn—meaning something more than mildly reddened skin—seek medical attention immediately, especially if the face, hands, feet, breasts, or genital areas are injured or if a large area of the body is burned. If you have any doubt about the burn’s severity, it is better to visit your doctor or local emergency department as soon as possible rather than second-guess the situation. Time is of the essence when preventing burn complications.
When Something Goes Wrong, Call an Experienced Burn Injury Lawyer
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. This could include both economic and non-economic damages. “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.
Talk to Our Severe Burn Injury Attorneys
Let our Indiana severe burn injury 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. Call (317) 680-2501 or use our contact form for a free evaluation of your claim.
Understanding the Impact of a Serious Burn Injury
A burn injury and its subsequent treatment are among the most painful experiences a person can encounter. The emotional needs of people with burns have long been overshadowed by the emphasis on survival, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NIH). Burn injury victims undergo various stages of adjustment and face emotional as well as physical challenges.
Psychosocial Effects of a Burn Injury
With the increased survival of victims with large burns comes a new focus on the psychological challenges and recovery that such burn injury victims must face. Most burn centers employ social workers, vocational counsellors, and psychologists as part of the multidisciplinary burn team. Physiological recovery of burn injury victims is seen as a continual process divided into three stages—resuscitative or critical, acute, and long-term rehabilitation, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The psychological needs of burn injury victims differ at each stage.
Resuscitative or Critical Stage Burn Injuries
The psychological characteristics of this stage include stressors of the intensive care environment, uncertainty about outcome, and a struggle for survival. The intensive care environment can be both over-stimulating and under-stimulating with the monotony of lying in a hospital bed for weeks.
Cognitive changes such as extreme drowsiness, confusion, and disorientation are common among burn injury victims during this phase. More severe cognitive changes such as delirium and brief psychotic reactions also occur, usually as a result of infections, metabolic complications, or high doses of drugs. Burn injury victims may also be intubated with a respirator, which greatly limits direct communication.
Acute Stage of a Burn Injury
The acute phase of burn injury recovery focuses on restorative care, but victims continue to undergo painful treatments. As burn injury victims become more alert during this phase, they face these procedures with less sedation. Also, victims are more aware of the physical and psychological impact of their injuries.
Depression and anxiety—Symptoms of depression and anxiety are common among burn injury victims and start to appear in the acute phase of recovery. Acute stress disorder (occurs in the first month) and post-traumatic stress disorder (occurs after one month) are more common after burn injuries than other forms of injury, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). People with these disorders typically have larger burns and more severe pain.
Sleep disturbance—Central to both anxiety and depression is sleep disturbance, the NIH states. The hospital environment can be loud, and burn injury victims are awakened frequently during the night for analgesia or for checking vital signs. Burn injury victims’ mood, agitation and nightmares can all affect sleep.
Grief—Burn injury victims may now begin the grieving process as they become more aware of the impact of the burn injuries on their lives. Family members, friends or pets may have died in the incident, and victims may have lost their homes or personal property. In addition to these external losses, burn injury victims may also grieve for their former life (such as job, mobility, physical ability, appearance). Mental health professionals and other staff should help burn injury victims grieve in their own way and at their own pace.
Long-Term Rehabilitation for Burn Injuries Bring Added Costs
The long-term stage of recovery for a burn injury typically begins after discharge from a hospital, when burn injury victims begin to reintegrate into society. For people with severe burns, this stage may involve continued outpatient physical rehabilitation, possibly with continuation of procedures such as dressing changes and surgery. The first year after leaving the hospital is frequently a period of high distress for burn injury victims.
The Cost of Burn Treatment in Indiana
The financial burden of a serious burn injury can be overwhelming, both to the individual and his family and to society as a whole. More than $10.4 billion per year is spent on hospital treatments for burn injuries, according to the National Business Group on Health. Even moderate burns may turn out to be costly if there are complications. For severe burns treated without complications, the average cost is well over a million dollars. With complications, a severe burn can cost more than $10 million to treat successfully. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates the total loss caused by burn injuries each year is $7.5 billion.
Burn injuries frequently require skin grafts or other surgical procedures, sometimes over a number of years. Disfigurement, scarring or tissue contracture occur in the majority of cases, as do psychological issues. Burn victims often suffer chronic pain, infections and impairments such as loss of eyesight. They and their families may have to deal with their loss of income and decreased future earning ability.
Our Indiana Burn Injury Attorneys Believe Justice Matters
If someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the situation which caused you to suffer a burn injury, they should have to bear the costs associated with your treatment and recovery, including both economic and non-economic damages. Let our Indiana burn injury attorneys fight to get compensation for you.
Call (317) 680-2501 or use our online contact form for a free evaluation of your claim.
Contact Us Now for Help
We take the hard cases – and win them.
Injury cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff.
Indiana burn injury attorney Mike Stephenson has more than three decades of experience and substantial financial resources to commit to your case. We build a legal team specifically for you.
Call to learn more about our investigative and litigation strategies: (317) 680-2501.