Throughout history Hell, the place where sinners are sentenced to eternal damnation, has been depicted as a world of fire and brimstone. This is largely because the human mind cannot imagine a worse fate than the pain and suffering associated with burn injuries. Pain from burns does not go away. Suffering is never ending. Death is often imminent but if death is avoided the burn survivor is left with a life of treatment, permanent disfigurement and painful rehabilitation. Pain and suffering are the burn survivor’s constant companions.
Burn injuries vary as much as the people who receive them. The severity of a burn injury is dependent on the amount of heat energy the victim is exposed to multiplied by the duration of exposure. Increasing the heat energy or time of exposure geometrically increases the severity of the burn injury. Burns primarily effect our skin. Skin is the body’s largest organ. Skin serves as a barrier between us and our environment. Skin is the body’s radiator. Skin allows us to sense hot and cold, pleasure and pain. Our skin effects how others perceive us and how we feel about ourselves. Without skin, we cannot survive. If you've suffered a burn injury due to someone else's negligence, contact our St. Louis burn injury attorneys today for help.
In St. Louis, residents and visitors alike may encounter hazards en route to or at the various places they live, work, shop, or spend time. One such pervasive and dangerous hazard is the risk of a burn injury resulting from the skin making contact with flame, hot surfaces, steam, chemicals, rough surfaces, or even extreme cold.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Missouri experiences close to two fatalities and six injuries per every 1,000 fires. The national average for fatalities and injuries per 1,000 fires is 2.5 and 9.8, respectively. From this perspective, the chances of burn injuries might seem less in St. Louis. With respect to fires, perhaps—but those statistics say nothing about the other ways that individuals can become burned, such as through a workplace exposure to toxic chemicals, or contact with hot metal during a motorcycle accident. St. Louis, a bustling metro with more than 300,000 residents, presents many more opportunities to experience different kinds of burn injuries.
Sustaining a burn injury is a painful and terrible experience. If you suffered burns in St. Louis because of a fire or other accident that someone else did or failed to do, you can seek compensation for your injuries by pursuing a burn injury claim for compensation. Contact The Bruning Law Firm, and we can discuss your case and figure out your legal options. To get a better idea of what a burn injury claim entails, read below for answers to some common questions about St. Louis burn injury cases.
How does a burn injury lawsuit work?
A burn injury lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court that seeks to hold a party liable (legally responsible) for burns they caused you by their negligent, reckless, or intentional wrongdoing.
You may seek to pursue compensation informally through a settlement with a party and/or their insurer before filing a lawsuit. However, if the party or their insurer fails to agree to a fair settlement, filing a lawsuit is typically your only option for recovering compensation.
What can I recover in a St. Louis burn injury claim?
In St. Louis, you can recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages you sustained from a burn injury accident. Damages in a burn injury case refer to harm for which you may receive compensation. The compensation you receive for the calculable expenses of your injury is called economic damages, while the compensation you receive as payment for the impacts your injury has had on your quality of life and other less tangible costs is called non-economic damages.
Common economic damages in burn injury cases include:
- All reasonable medical expenses incurred in the treatment of your burn injury and related complications.
- The loss of wages you experienced due to being too injured to work.
- The loss of future earning capacity, if your burn injury resulted in permanent deficits and you can’t earn what you did before the accident.
- Property damage that you also experienced from the same accident in which your burn injury occurred.
Common non-economic damages in burn injury cases include:
- Physical pain and suffering you experienced from the injury and the particularly painful treatments that burn injuries often require.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury prevents you from enjoying activities you previously participated in.
Plaintiffs can sometimes recover punitive damages in some St. Louis burn injury cases. Punitive damages are compensation provided, not to compensate a burn victim for expenses and impacts they have experienced, but to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior that demonstrates a blatant disregard for the safety of others. Your experienced burn injury attorney can advise you if punitive damages are available in your case.
Recent Burn Injury Settlement
$15.5 Million Settlement
"7 People were injured in a flash fire when the defendant's failure to follow their safety protocols caused severe burn injuries to our client."
Is treatment at a burn treatment center considered a recoverable medical expense?
According to the American Burn Association, about 40,000 people are hospitalized for burn injuries in the U.S. each year. About 30,000 of those patients receive their treatment at a burn treatment center. A burn treatment center is a specialized treatment center focused on managing burns, preventing infection and other complications. The facility earns its status as a burn treatment center by completing the American Burn Association’s verification program. This ensures it meets the rigorous standards for organizational structure, personnel qualifications, resources, and services provided. St. Louis’s Mercy Burn Center is one of just two verified burn centers in Missouri.
If the treatment you receive at Mercy Burn Center for your St. Louis burn injury is reasonably necessary for your medical treatment, you can seek recovery of the cost of that treatment in your claim.
How do I prove who was liable for causing my burn injury?
Figuring out who is liable, or legally responsible, for your injury is a challenge for any St. Louis burn injury victim in seeking compensation. To be legally entitled to compensation from a party, you must prove that they are liable for your burn injury.
To prove that someone is liable, you must establish.
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care generally refers to the actions a reasonable person or entity would take in a given set of circumstances to protect the safety and property of others. The duty of care you deserve depends on the at-fault party’s relationship to you at the time of the accident. For example, the duty of care of a passenger-vehicle driver to a motorcyclist would be to operate their motor vehicle safely and legally to avoid colliding with a motorcyclist or otherwise put the motorcyclist in harm’s way.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. A breach of the duty of care occurs when a party takes action that violates their duty of care. Using the motorcycle accident example from above, if a passenger-vehicle driver was speeding and failed to notice a motorcyclist, resulting in a collision, this would constitute a breach in the duty of care, as it is neither safe nor legal to speed.
- The breach in the duty of care resulted in the accident, which caused you to incur burn injuries and subsequent expenses and impacts. In the case above, a lucky rider wearing a helmet and protective gear might avoid injuries in the collision. More likely, though, riders sustain serious injuries in such accidents, including burn injuries from road rash, or skin coming into contact with hot metal from the vehicles.
How is the value of emotional impacts calculated?
Non-economic damages, like emotional trauma, can be difficult to value, as these damages do not come with a price tag or a bill for services. Furthermore, there is no one way to calculate non-economic damages. The amount is generally left to a judge or jury to decide, based on the severity of the impacts you have experienced, the limitations the burn injury has placed on your life, and all other burdens you face because of your injuries.
What is the average settlement for a burn injury case in St. Louis?
Because all burn injuries and all accidents are different, and the severity of the expenses and impacts victims suffer vary so widely, there isn’t an average settlement amount for St. Louis burn injury cases.
Several factors can affect how much you settle for, including:
- How much insurance the at-fault party has. Insurance pays most settlements and awards. While you may file and win a burn injury lawsuit against an uninsured person, you may find collecting that award very difficult, if not impossible. Most uninsured people cannot afford to pay someone else’s accident expenses out-of-pocket. Your experienced burn attorney can discover all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can provide your compensation.
- The severity of your injury. More severe injuries often require more intensive treatment, a longer recovery time, and are more likely to result in lost wages or the claimant’s lost earning capacity. The greater these impacts are, the more you may recover in economic damages. Furthermore, more severe injuries tend to result in more pain and suffering, which results in a higher calculation for non-economic damages.
- What your income was at the time of the accident. Many times, a burn injury case involving a professional at the peak of their career will be valued higher than a case involving a young person or a retired person, because the professional earns a higher income than someone who has not yet entered the job market or someone who no longer earns an income. Much of what you may recover in a burn injury case in economic damages comes from the loss of income or earning capacity, which means the more you were making at the time of the accident, the more you lost because of your injury and have the right to seek compensation for.
- Your patience in waiting for a fair settlement offer. It is not usually hard to get a settlement offer. However, getting a settlement offer that fairly compensates you for the expenses and impacts of your injury is a different story. Insurance companies will start low with their offers and increase as you collect more evidence to support your case and as you get closer to trial. Although you may want nothing more than for the case to be over, you may need to wait to build up your case and get an insurance company to come to a reasonable settlement agreement.
Will I have to pay taxes on the award I received from my burn injury lawsuit?
For the most part, no. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not consider compensation for a personal injury received through a settlement or award to be income, and therefore does not tax it. However, punitive damages can be taxed, as they are not awarded as compensation for the injury but as a means of punishing a defendant. You might also need to pay back certain amounts if you claimed tax deductions for medical expenses for your injury. Your best option is to consult with an experienced burn injury or tax attorney to determine what part of your settlement or court award may be taxable.
I can’t afford an attorney. Can I file a burn injury claim on my own?
You can afford our attorneys—we’ll explain why in a moment—but the notion that attorneys are expensive may make it tempting to attempt to pursue compensation in your St. Louis burn injury case on your own. But this is almost always a mistake. An attorney can relieve an immense amount of stress from your shoulders as you recover from your burn injuries. Unless you are legally trained, you are likely to find bringing a claim on your own very complicated, and you are likely to end up recovering much less than if you had someone by your side familiar with the process.
An attorney not only knows the technical ins and outs of insurance claims and filing lawsuits, but how much compensation you can demand. This is typically much more than the insurance company is willing to offer at first, especially to a self-represented claimant. The guidance you can receive from an experienced burn injury attorney can make the difference between obtaining the compensation you need to cover all your expenses and settling for an amount that runs out much too soon, leaving you on your own to figure out how to cover the rest.
Because having an attorney is so important, The Bruning Law Firm offers:
- A free case evaluation. This is time for you to meet with our St. Louis burn attorney and obtain answers to the questions you have about your unique case. We can also explain our firm’s approach to burn injury cases and the additional services we can provide you.
- A contingent-fee payment arrangement. We offer our services on a contingent-fee basis, so we will not charge you for legal services unless we recover compensation for you. This lets us get started right away without requiring an upfront investment from you during a time when you are least likely to have funds available.
Burn injuries are among the most painful and complex injuries to suffer. Obtaining compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury can be much easier and more successful with an experienced St. Louis burn injury lawyer on your side. Contact us immediately for your free case evaluation.
Burn Injuries Classification
Burn injuries are classified and treated by the degree of damage caused to the skin. Minor burns are referred to as superficial burns because the damage is confined to the outermost layer of skin known as the epidermis. Superficial burns will usually self-repair without medical attention. More severe burns are referred to as partial thickness burns because they involve partial damage to the dermis. The dermis lies beneath the epidermis and is the heart and sole of skin because it contains nerve endings, sweat and oil glands, hair follicles and blood vessels. Partial-thickness burns are self-repairing with scar tissue but require medical treatment to promote healing and avoid infection. Full thickness burns completely damage and destroy the epidermis and dermis and are not self-repairing.These burns have in the past been referred to as third degree burns. The damaged skin must be replaced with skin grafts harvested from and unburned area of the burn victim’s body. Our St. Louis burn injury lawyers must understand the full nature of burn injuries and treatment as well as the immediate and long term consequences to the burn injury survivor. If you or someone you know has received a burn injuries contact personal injury lawyer Anthony Bruning for a free consultation at 314-735-8100. Currently we are handling burn injury cases in Missouri and Illinois.
Our Practice Areas
With more than 35 years of experience successfully representing St. Louis residents in personal injury cases, our St. Louis attorneys have handled a variety of claims, including:
- Dog Bites
- Product Liability
- Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Premises Liability
- Wrongful Death
- Car Accidents
- Tractor-Trailer Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle or Pedestrian Accidents
- School Bus Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Swimming Pool Accidents
- Class-Action Lawsuits
"AJ and team were so delightful to work with. They were very responsive to all emails and phone calls. I always knew which step we were on in the process of getting my lawsuit settled. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the amount the settlement was for was twice that of the original coverage of the insurance company. I don’t know how they did it but I am very pleased with the service they provided. Hands down easiest process, and people to deal with. 100% recommend if you have a personal injury case to be worked. Hopefully I won’t need their services again, but if I do I won’t hesitate to call." - Amanda W.
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