What’s the largest organ in your body? Your skin. It might seem like a trick question (and then there’s that joke kids say once they learn a few anatomy terms – “Hey, cover up! Your epidermis is showing!”), but our skin is the envelope holding in all of our vital, fragile organs. Serious burns can range from mild to agonizing, and even leave you dead.
The pain and suffering of burns is not something juries take lightly, and legal settlements resulting from them can be substantial. If you are suffering from severe pain and have significant medical bills, this should be an option you consider. However, Colorado has various legal quirks that we must discuss.
It can be difficult to determine how much a burn injury settlement might be beforehand. Factors that can affect the verdict could be:
Since the pain and suffering surrounding burn victims is generally much higher than that of other victims, higher settlements are usually the result. However, it can be a long road to get there.
Like all negligence cases, you – the victim, AKA the plaintiff – have the burden of proof. This means you have to establish that you were injured, and most importantly, that you were injured by the defendant. To do this under Colorado law, you have to show the following:
At the risk of sounding insensitive, how and where a burn occurred will most certainly affect a plaintiff’s potential settlement. Was it the victim’s face that was disfigured, or was it his arm? Will he never feel comfortable taking off his shirt again? Or was it something that can be easily hidden?
Additionally, the jury will look at the physical location of where the burn occurred and whether it was foreseeable. The following are places where burns might happen:
Burn cases also have inner complexities that will affect potential rewards, such as whether it took place at work – if it were potentially avoidable, a jury may not feel a reward is judicious, even if there are significant medical bills. However, if it were because of an employer’s failure to follow OSHA regulations, then the value might go up again. It’s all a gamble.
If you can establish that you have been burned because of an individual’s or company’s negligence, then Colorado law will allow you to be compensated for:
There are damage caps in Colorado. For pain and suffering, the amount is $250,000 plus inflation, unless there is clear and convincing evidence for an exception or permanent damage. There is a total cap at $500,000.
Of course, like with everything else, there may be certain exceptions.
There is also the option of filing a wrongful death suit if a loved one has passed away because of a burn injury.
In Colorado, the Wrongful Death Act, Statute Section 13-21-202 states that the decedent’s surviving spouse is the only one who can bring a claim during the first year following the date of death. During the second year, both the surviving spouse and any surviving children can bring a claim. If the decedent left no surviving spouse or children, then the surviving parents are allowed to file an action.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit is two years from the date of death, though this can be “tolled,” or postponed, under certain circumstances.
As wrongful death claims are brought in civil court, they are resolved solely through monetary means. Unfortunately, non-economic damages also have caps. Damages include, but are not limited to:
Colorado does allow for punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were considered to be willful or reckless.
The other important consideration in a wrongful death claim is whether the defendant has an insurance policy or access to money. If not, there might be no way to make them pay for what they did. This would be a question for an attorney.
If you need some assistance through this difficult process, read some of the resources below and speak with some of Enjuris’ Colorado attorneys, who are well versed in this area. They will be able to help you.