Burn Injury Damages & Compensation
When seeking compensation through an insurance claim or litigation, there are various damages you could potentially seek, depending on the facts.
- Economic damages: Lost income since the accident and the income you may be expected to lose in the future if permanent injuries could impact working going forward. You can be compensated for damages to or the loss of your vehicle and out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the accident. You can claim past medical bills and payment for medical treatments reasonably expected in the future.
- Non-economic damages: Pain and suffering due to the accident, injury and recovery. Impact on your relationships. Mental or emotional harm caused by the accident and injuries.
These damages could be shown by: copies of receipts, establishing the market value of your automobile, expert opinion as to what medical treatment will be needed in the future, testimony from family members and mental health professional on the emotional and psychiatric impact of the injury, tax records could show past earnings, expert opinion could establish what you would’ve been expected to earn if there was no accident and what should be expected afterward.
Economic damages are easy to calculate because they’re hard figures. Non-economic damages are often based on what damages have been awarded in other cases in similar situations and what the injured party is willing to accept.
Proving Negligence in a Burn Injury Claim
Negligence is a legal theory used in personal injury legal actions. The plaintiff (the injured party) has the burden of proof that the defendant (the party accused of being responsible) is, more likely than not, legally responsible. The plaintiff in a burn injury case needs to show the defendant,
- Owed the plaintiff a legal duty or obligation (was responsible for inspecting a potentially flammable piece of equipment)/li>
- That duty or obligation was breached (the person ignored their responsibility)/li>
- That breach is the factual and legal (or proximate) cause of the accident( The lack of inspection led to an accident where you were burned)/li>
- The accident caused harm to the plaintiff /li>
- Under state law the defendant is obligated to compensate to plaintiff for the harm suffered
Often in accident cases both sides disagree on who’s at fault and by how much. In Texas there is a modified comparative fault rule that follows a 51% bar rule. The plaintiff can’t recover compensation if he or she is found to be 51% or more at fault for causing the accident. If it’s shown the defendant is more at fault than the plaintiff, recovery will be reduced by the share of his or her fault. If a jury decides a plaintiff is 30% at fault and there are $100,000 in damages, plaintiff’s recovery will be $70,000.
New Mexico follows a different system, pure comparative negligence. A plaintiff can recover from a defendant whatever share of fault the defendant is responsible for. If the plaintiff’s share of the blame for the accident is a third, he or she can recover two-thirds of his or her total damages.
Burn Injury Settlements
The claim process following a burn injury begins with an in-depth investigation. This means working to preserve and collect evidence involved in the accident. This may include obtaining copies of a police or incident report, photos of the hazardous area, video footage of the incident, and any eyewitness statements available.
It will also involve documenting your physical, psychological, and financial injuries. Having proof of the type and extent of your injuries is essential to demanding the maximum compensation.
Once the documents are collected, the claim will enter settlement negotiations before a lawsuit is filed. Both, the plaintiff and defendant’s legal representatives sides will attempt to reach an agreement in lieu of going to trial. While most burn injury claims are settled at this stage, if a favorable resolution is not reached, the matter will move forward to trial.
When deciding how to handle negotiations, you need to think about all the harm done since the accident and the expected, future harm. As the degree of burn increases, the more harm is done.
Factors to consider in a burn injury settlement negation are:
- How much of your body was burned
- How much pain and suffering you endured
- Whether there will be permanent scarring, and if so, how much will be publicly visible
- Whether there were serious complications, such as infections, that caused setbacks
- f there are permanent physical limitations, how they will impact the enjoyment of your life and ability to make a living
- What psychological harm has been done
- Your expected, future medical needs
Burn Injury Lawsuits and Trial Preparation
If a lawsuit is filed, part of the litigation process is discovery, where both parties evaluate the critical facts, which can help move the settlement process along. Both sides ask each other questions in writing and under oath, exchange documents and information. Often the parties, after discovery, understand the value of the case and reach an agreement.
During the investigation and litigation phase we often use experts. These are specialized professionals who can give opinions in court. We often use accident reconstructionists to help us determine the cause of accidents. Medical experts are used to explain the nature and extent of injuries and how long limitations are expected to last.
Discovery is a critical part of the litigation process. It often provides additional evidence to support your case. It also can help us identify weaknesses in your case, which can be addressed during negotiations or trial.