Indiana Burn Injury Claims
Steps to recover compensation after suffering a burn injury in the Hoosier State
Every year in the United States, 1.1 million burn injuries require medical attention. Indiana burn victims may be able to recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim.
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A burn injury occurs when some or all of a person’s layers of skin are destroyed by a hot liquid (called a “scald burn”), a hot solid (called a “contact burn”), or a flame (called a “flame burn”).
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, roughly 123 Hoosiers die from burn injuries every year. What’s more, burn injuries account for more than 2% of all inpatient hospitalizations.
If your burn injury was caused by someone else or if it was sustained at work, you might be able to recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim.
Let’s take a look at burn injuries and burn injury claims in Indiana.
Types of burn injuries
Burns are generally classified based on their severity:
Minor burns that affect only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Possible symptoms of first-degree burns include:
- Mild pain
Burns that affect both the outer layer of skin and the second layer of skin (dermis). Possible symptoms of second-degree burns include:
Burns that reach the fat layer beneath the skin. Possible symptoms of third-degree burns include:
- Discoloration (black, brown, or white)
- Leathery appearance
- Permanent scarring
Burns can result in intense and prolonged pain. What’s more, severe burns can cause a number of surprising complications, including:
- Bacterial infections
- Fluid loss
- Low body temperature
- Breathing problems
- Bone and joint problems
- Mental trauma
According to the American Burn Association
, most burn injuries treated in burn centers in 2018 were sustained in the home (73%) followed by work (8%).
Common causes of burn injuries
Some of the most common causes of burn injuries include:
Real Life Example: A tanker carrying 4,000 gallons of jet fuel overturned and exploded on the ramp from I-465 to I-70 in Indianapolis. The truck driver and several good Samaritans who stopped at the scene were severely burned. An initial investigation found that the truck driver took the exit at an unsafe speed, causing the truck to roll-over.
Burn injuries and legal options in Indiana
If you sustain a burn injury, there are 4 legal options that might allow you to recover compensation depending on the circumstances of your injury:
1. A negligence lawsuit for a burn injury
Most accidents happen because someone is careless. If someone’s carelessness caused your burn injury, the person may be considered negligent.
To prove negligence in Indiana, you must establish that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach was the cause of your injury.
Indiana is a modified comparative fault state, which means that if you were partially at fault for your injury, your damage award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. What’s more, if the court determines that you were more than 50% at fault for the accident, you’re barred from recovering ANY damages.
2. A product liability lawsuit for a burn injury
A product liability lawsuit is based on a defective product that causes an injury. In Indiana, there are 3 types of defects that can give rise to a product liability claim based on a burn injury:
- Design defect. A product has a design defect if it’s inherently dangerous even though it was manufactured as intended. To put it another way, the only way to make the product safe is to come up with a different design.
- Manufacturing defect. A manufacturing defect occurs when the product would be safe if manufactured properly, but some error occurred in the manufacturing process that rendered the product unsafe.
- Inadequate warnings. If a product doesn’t come with proper warnings, the manufacturer may be liable.
There are a number of products that could cause burns, including defective barbecue grills, fireworks, smartphones, and even cooking spray.
Real Life Example: Two people suffered fatal burns when the Tesla they were inside burst into flames in downtown Indianapolis. A lawsuit was subsequently filed against the car manufacturer claiming that several defects, including unstable lithium-ion batteries that ignite spontaneously or when impacted, caused the explosion. The lawsuit further alleges that faulty door handles prevented the passengers from escaping the vehicle once the car burst into flames.
3. A premises liability lawsuit for a burn injury
Premises liability is a specialty within negligence law that holds landowners responsible for injuries to others on their property. Whether or not a landowner can be held liable for a particular injury depends, in part, on the why the injured person was on the property. But generally speaking, landowners are liable for dangerous conditions that they fail to make safe or warn visitors about.
Let’s look at an example:
Bill runs a U-pick strawberry farm. In the designated U-pick area, Bill accidentally left an herbicide sprayer running.
Jimmy, a 10-year-old boy, was picking strawberries when he walked underneath the herbicide sprayer. The herbicide came in contact with Jimmy’s face and caused severe burns.
In this example, Jimmy (or his parents) may be able to recover damages by filing a premises liability lawsuit against Bill.
Learn more about premises liability laws
, including what elements need to be established to receive compensation in a lawsuit.
4. A workers’ compensation claim for a burn injury
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured on the job. In Indiana, almost all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, which means injured workers can receive financial compensation regardless of who’s at fault for the injury.
Real Life Example: Five workers at the Waupaca Foundry Plant in Tell City, Indiana were taken to a burn center with serious burns after they were injured while doing maintenance on top of a cupola furnace (a melting device used in foundries to melt cast iron). A subsequent investigation found that a plug in the tap hole caused a flash fire that injured the workers.
Damages available for an Indiana burn injury
Indiana allows plaintiffs of burn injury lawsuits to recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to loses that have an actual monetary value, such as:
- Medical expenses (including surgeries, skin grafts, and physical therapy)
- Lost wages (for the work time missed due to the injury)
- Lost earning capacity (for future work that can no longer be done because of the injury)
- Property damage
- Other expenses associated with the injury
Non-economic damages refer to the losses that don’t have a reasonably objective monetary value, such as:
Learn more about the types of compensation
available in an Indiana personal injury lawsuit, and estimate how much your claim is worth.
If the burn victim dies because of the burn injury, certain family members can recover compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Resources for burn injury victims
Burn victims commonly point to a strong support system as one of the most important factors in a successful recovery. With that in mind, here are some resources that can help you after a burn injury:
Ready to talk to an attorney so you can start down the road to recovery? Find one in our Enjuris Lawyer Directory.
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