070829-N-4965F-025Burn injuries are some of the scariest and longest lasting injuries that can happen to someone. Unlike many injuries, burns often remain visible long after the healing process is over. The physical, emotional, and psychological damage caused by burns not only severely hurts and often debilitates the victim, but the medical costs surrounding such injuries can be staggering. The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors states:

According to the American Burn Association there are one million burn injuries in the USA annually and an estimated 45,000 hospitalizations. About half of those hospitalizations are admitted to the 125 specialized burn treatment centers and the other half to the nation’s 5,000 hospitals. It is estimated that one third of these injuries are children.

With this many burn injuries each year, we want you to know what you can expect to receive from your insurance company and how to cover the medical expenses that your injury may incur.

Pain and Suffering

According to All Law, Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to a host of injuries that a plaintiff may suffer as a result of an accident. It encompasses not just physical pain but also emotional and mental injuries such as fear, insomnia, grief, worry, inconvenience, and even the loss of the enjoyment of life. Depending on the degree of your burn, the size of the burn area, the treatments and recovery time required to overcome your burn injury, and who is at fault, you should be able to receive compensation relative to the amount of pain and suffering that you have experienced.

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

DMV.org said:

Unfortunately, there is no set formula in calculating the costs of pain and suffering, or what is also known as “general damages.” Some people multiply the total medical bills related to the car accident injuries by two, three, or even four. Others use a formula based on daily suffering. For instance, if your kneecap was busted in a car accident, you would gauge your daily pain and all of the daily activities you’re incapable of doing due to your injury. You would then pin a compensation cost to each day and multiply this figure by the number of days you’ve been injured. And some others just estimate a generalized cost.

Whichever method you choose, be aware that you will need to provide your insurance company with proof and evidence behind your claim. Adequately providing the proof for this requires the following information.

  • Medical reports.
  • Prescription receipts.
  • Over-the-counter medication receipts.
  • Medical bills, if applicable, for therapy, ambulance costs, x-rays, emergency room visits and more.
  • Proof of lost wages.
  • Photos of your injuries.

There are many other ways you can strengthen your claim, so be as thorough as possible and save anything that you think might strengthen your case.

Does a Burn Injury Require a Lawyer?

As with all incidents of personal injury, you should first make your claim with the involved insurance companies. It is possible that they will offer you full compensation for your pain and suffering. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. If someone else’s actions have resulted in you being burned and the amount offered by your insurance company is inadequate, do not settle. Find a lawyer who will work with you and help you understand the claims process. A good lawyer will help you receive the amount you need to recover and move on with your life.

Protect Yourself

Here is an example from The Expert Institute of how a homeowner failed to obtain correct insurance to protect himself.

This case involves a homeowner whose son purchased a fire pit to use at the house during the summer. The pit was not attached to the property and was kept in a shed when it was not in use. The son and several friends went to the house and placed the fire pit on the deck and situated several chairs around it. One of the friends took a gasoline container from the shed to start the fire. He poured the gasoline into the pit and this caused a large flash of flames that severely burned three of the people who were present. The three people who were burned sued the homeowner for their injuries. The homeowner had an insurance policy that covered three other properties but that did not list the house where the injuries occurred as an “insured location” even though it was owned by the insured homeowner. The insurance company brought a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend a claim based on bodily injury at this particular house.

There are two lessons that we can learn from this case. First if you are a home, business, or property owner, make sure that your insurance will cover any accidental burn injuries. If this homeowner had been properly insured, then the financial damage he incurred as a result of someone else’s carelessness would have been taken care of by his insurance company. Second, and obviously, do not be the person who’s playing with fire. No one needs gasoline to to roast s’mores. There are many ways to safely handle fire around your home. Follow common sense safety procedures that apply to your surroundings (i.e. in your house, in the woods, in your backyard). Be safe with fire, and if you have been burned and feel that the insurance company is not doing all that they can to help you recover, please contact us and we will do all we can to make sure that you are taken care of.

Photo courtesy of the U.S Navy

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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