Burn Injuries in Texas – an Overview

Help after your burn accident

What options do you have legally if you were burned in an accident in Texas?

Our skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. A serious burn can kill or at the very least, be completely life-altering. Serious burns can leave you with terrible pain, disfigurement and scarring, and if you or a loved one is going through this, we know you want answers on what you can do now.

At the very least, if the burn injury was possibly caused by the negligence of another person or entity, you may be able to sue for negligence or wrongful death.

Given the pain and suffering that burns can cause, legal settlements from burn injuries can be substantial. If you are suffering from severe pain and have huge medical bills piling up for your burn treatments, this could be a huge help to you.

Naturally, it is hard to estimate how much a burn injury settlement or verdict may be. The major factors in burn case settlements that affect the potential size of the award include:

  • How severe the injury is
  • The intentions of the party who caused the burns
  • To what extent the responsible party can pay damages

Generally, burn injuries can lead to higher settlements due to the pain, suffering and scarring that usually is involved. How much will depend on the factors surrounding the accident.

Elements of a burn injury lawsuit in Texas

As in all personal injury cases, you the plaintiff have the burden of proof. You will need to provide enough evidence to prove that the defendant caused your burn injuries.

Under Texas law, you must prove the following to prevail in your burn injury lawsuit:

  • The defendant owed a certain duty of care to you. If your burns happened at work, the duty of care would be that you were an employee of the defendant. The defendant has a duty to keep a ‘reasonably’ safe work place.

  • That duty of care was breached with the accident that led to your burns. The employer acted carelessly because it failed to know about an unsafe work condition.

  • The breach of duty led to your injuries.

A burn injury lawsuit probably will not go anywhere if, for example, you spilled hot coffee on yourself in the office kitchen.

How and where the burn happened

To reach a settlement in a Texas burn case, the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys will negotiate based upon what they estimate the plaintiff may win at trial.

How and where the burn occurred is important because how much the defendant is liable will affect how much a jury would be willing to pay you at trial.

Obviously, there are many types of personal injury cases where terrible burns can happen:

  • Defective household products
  • Defective industrial equipment and products
  • Flammable materials
  • Automobile crash with or without drunk driving
  • Structural fires
  • Gas explosions
  • Workplace accidents
  • Faulty wiring

There also are many complexities in burn cases that will affect the size of the potential award. For instance, a workplace injury burn where you were burned by an accident that may or may not have been avoidable would probably result in a relatively low settlement.

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However, if the burn was caused by an accident that was due to your employer’s failure to follow OSHA regulations, the settlement value would likely be much higher.

Possible compensation in a Texas burn injury case

If you can establish that you have been burned due to negligence, Texas law allows you to be compensated for the following.

  • Medical bills – future and past – for treating your burn injuries.
  • Any expenses related to your burn injuries that were paid out of pocket (keep good records of all expenses)
  • Wages that you have lost, as well as wages you may lose in the future due to your injuries and medical treatments/appointments.

Past and future pain and suffering, which could be substantial in a burn injury case. If you have suffered severe burns that led to obvious disfigurement, such as on the face, your award here could be higher.

Note that Texas law features the concept of proportionate responsibility. This means if your responsibility for the accident is determined to be more than 50%, you cannot recover damages.

Punitive damages after a burn injury in Texas

Under Texas law, if the defendant was particularly negligent or careless, you as the burn victim could receive punitive damages, which are designed to punish truly reckless and negligent behavior.

Punitive damages in a burn injury lawsuit are hard to predict. Texas law limits punitive damages in personal injury cases to a large degree. According to Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, punitive damages can only be awarded in cases that involve fraud, malice or gross negligence.

In a burn lawsuit, we are talking about potential gross negligence. If you are awarded punitive damages in a jury verdict, the law states that the jury has to determine your economic damages separately from other compensatory damages.

This means that it must add up your economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, and then add up your non-economic damages, usually pain and suffering. Then, the law states that punitive damages cannot exceed:

  • Two times the amount of the awarded economic damages, plus an amount equal to any noneconomic damages decided upon by the jury. This should not exceed $750,000; or

  • $200,000, whichever is greater
Enjuris Tip: Your ability to obtain punitive damages in Texas has been greatly limited by recent changes to the law. People with severe burns could be experiencing great pain and suffering, as well as huge economic losses. So finding an excellent personal injury attorney in Texas will be especially important in a burn injury case.

Wrongful death in Texas

If your loved one was tragically lost in a burn-related accident, you will want to learn more about wrongful death in Texas.

In Texas, the surviving spouse, children and parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

If the spouse, children or parents do not file a claim within 90 days of the date of death, a personal representative or executor of the estate may do so. Also, Texas allows adult children to file a wrongful death claim for the death of a parent. An adoptive child can file a wrongful death claim for their adoptive parent, as well.

A major burn injury or wrongful death is terrible both physically and mentally. For more resources on how to recovery emotionally after a traumatic accident, please see our Texas resources page.

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