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Overview of Burn Injury Claims: Causes, Severity, and Liability

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Burn injuries can range from mild to severe, sometimes resulting in death. In the United States, there are nearly 1.1 million burn injuries requiring medical attention every year. Depending on what caused your injury and how severe it was, you may be able to file a claim and receive compensation for your injuries.

It’s best to work with a lawyer experienced in burn injury and liability claims to give your case the highest chance of success.

Burn Injury Causes

Although many think of burns resulting from fire, electricity, chemicals, and the sun can cause third-degree burns.

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns happen when your skin comes into contact with fire, a heated object, or hot steam. Besides house fires, many people experience thermal burns during a car accident, cooking with hot oil, or working with heated equipment. Some abuse victims also receive thermal burns, particularly from cigarettes.

Electrical Burns

If electricity interacts with your skin, it can cause an electrical burn. Because the electricity travels through your body, it can also result in damage to your heart, kidneys, muscles, bones, and nervous system. Even if an electrical burn looks mild, see a doctor to ensure your organs are not damaged.

Chemical Burns

Many chemicals can cause chemical burns, including gasoline, paint thinners, lye, and strong acids. When cleaning, always wear protective gloves. If a strong chemical makes contact with your skin, it could take several hours for the burn to appear.


Even mild sunburns can cause problems later in life, resulting in skin cancer. Always wear sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.

Types of Burn Injury

Medical professionals class burn injuries as first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree burns. First-degree burns are mild and can cause redness, irritation, and discomfort. You can treat first-degree burns at home with cool water.

Second-degree burns affect two layers of skin, the outer epidermis and the second layer, the dermis. These burns can take longer to heal and require medical attention. You may see blisters, red and white blotches, and swelling.

Third-degree burns are more severe and affect the fat beneath the skin. Often, you won’t feel pain initially, but it’s essential to see a doctor immediately. The skin may turn black or brown and become leathery. You could develop infections, requiring antibiotics, and may have scarring.

Fourth-degree burns are the most severe and often affect the nerves, muscle, and bone. Many victims require amputation, and the burn causes permanent damage.

There are fifth and sixth-degree burns, both of which involve exposed bone and sometimes death.

Burn Injury Claim

Determining Liability in a Burn Injury Case

Your personal injury attorney needs to determine the exact cause of the burn. According to the American Burn Association, most burns happen in house fires. If someone’s negligent actions caused the fire, they might be liable. However, if the house fire was an accident where no one is at fault, you may only receive compensation through your homeowner’s insurance.

To prove someone else’s liability, your lawyer will have to show that they had a duty of care to you they breached and that their negligence caused your injury, which resulted in provable damages. Since first- and second-degree burns rarely result in high medical bills or lost work, you may be unable to pursue a case. However, third-degree burns can cause catastrophic injuries and could cause significant financial and emotional damages.

Many burns also happen at work, particularly in professions that handle electricity and chemicals. You won’t need to prove liability to benefit from workers’ compensation insurance, but insurance companies might deny your claims if you were injured while taking unnecessary risks.

The insurance industry can be slow to respond to claims, so it’s best to work with an attorney to get your benefits faster. Your lawyer can communicate with your insurance company, ensuring you file the correct paperwork on time.

If a faulty product burned you, the company might be liable. However, many large corporations have liability insurance, meaning they have a team of lawyers to fight your case. The legal team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., has extensive experience handling product liability cases and can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Arrange a Consultation

If you or a loved one has recently suffered a burn injury, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. to determine if you are eligible for compensation. Call us at 866-MICH-LAW to schedule your free consultation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Martha is a writer and musician who is passionate about politics and the law. She studied politics in her Bachelor's Degree and continues to be involved in legal matters, especially immigration. She now lives in Germany and is writing her first book and learning German.



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