Philadelphia Burn and Death From Fire Attorney
Burns are among the most painful and costly injuries the human body can sustain. Burns can result in nerve damage, loss of feeling, and chronic pain, and severe burns frequently require months or years of treatment with painful and expensive skin grafts. Because burns result in changes in to the survivor’s physical appearance, they are often accompanied by feelings of depression, anxiety, and diminished self-esteem. In many instances, burns are long-lasting injuries which can inflict years of physical agony, emotional trauma, and financial hardship.
How do Burn Injuries Occur in Philadelphia?
Approximately half a million people seek medical care for burn injuries in the United States. According to the American Burn Association, the exact number of burn injuries requiring medical treatment is 486,000. However, the number does not account for the 3,275 smoke inhalation related deaths or the 40,000 hospital admissions for treatment related to burn injuries.
Burn injuries are extremely common because they can be caused by so many sources and accident types, including but not limited to:
- Fires – Fires can occur in a broad array or locations, but the most common place for a burn injury to occur due to fire is the home. The risk of burn injuries due to fire in the home can be mitigated by the use of smoke detectors on all levels of the home and through frequent, regular battery testing.
- Car Crashes – Car crashes, truck crashes, and other vehicle accidents can cause burn injuries in a number of ways. To start, fuel and other substances can ignite following a crash leading to a fire. Some chemicals that may be spilled from the vehicle can cause chemical burns. Finally, friction burns are also possible.
- Heat – Any source of sufficient heat can cause serious burn injuries. This can occur while working on a car engine, cooking in a kitchen, or a broad array of other circumstances.
- Explosions – Explosions causing burn injuries can occur in the home and workplace.Defective products ranging from lithium-ion batteries to other electronics can overheat and explode potentially causing serious burn injuries.
- Chemicals – Chemical burns are extremely serious and can cause significant pain and suffering. Chemicals ranging from drain openers to industrial solvents can casue serious injuries to the skin, eyes, and other parts of the body.
- Hot Liquids – Despite the lessons learned from the famous hot coffee case, some restaurants still insist on serving beverages at temperatures that are unsafe for human consumption. This risk is even more pronounced when the product is served through a drive-through window.
- Electrical Accidents – Electrical accidents can cause serious burns. Improperly insulated wires and other electrical faults in electrical systems and consumer products can lead to serious injuries of this type.
Types of Injuries from Fires
When you ask about fire injuries many people automatically and exclusively turn to burns. While burns are a very common injury, there are other injuries that can be just as severe and have an equally detrimental impact on a persons’ life.
There are two types of burns from fires: flash burns and burns from flames. Flash burns result from a sudden intense heat, which usually result from some form of explosion. Generally, people who have sustained flash burns can be treated as an outpatient and do not require extensive medical care. On the other hand, those who suffer burns from flames may incur extensive damage depending on the severity of the burn. There are four widely accepted burn types, which are separated by degrees.
- First-degree burns affect only the top layer of skin, which is known as the epidermis. In these burn types the skin is usually red and painful, however, this burn is usually equivalent to a sunburn and the healing process normally does not take longer than 3-5 days.
- Second-degree burns can be classified as either partial or full thickness burns and are more severe than first degree burns. In a partial thickness burn, there can be a blister that involved the entire skin and upper layers of the skin known as the dermis. The healing process for these burns can take anywhere from 10-21 days and potentially longer. In a full thickness second-degree burn, the skin can appear to be red or white but will usually appear to be dry. This is because a full thickness second-degree burn involves the destruction of the entire outer layer of skin and most of the top layers underlying the epidermis. These burns often require extensive medical treatment and skin grafting to heal.
- Third-degree burns are a very serious injury and should be treated by a medical professional. Third-degree burn entails the complete destruction of all the layers of the skin and extends deep into the tissue below the skin. In these burns, the skin can appear black or white but will be very dry. However, there is often very little pain in these types of injuries due to the extensive damage to the nerves. These injuries normally require skin grafting and will often result in severe scarring.
- Fourth-degree burns are types of burns that are by far the most serious and will often result in severe impairment and disability. Fourth-degree burns involve burns to the deeper tissues such as the muscle, tendons, and bones. In these cases, you should seek prompt medical treatment.
However, often there are many other injuries that may result from a fire which are often overlooked however equally as dangerous. Some of these include:
- Smoke inhalation
- Broken bones
- Strains and sprains
- Brain injuries
Surprisingly, one of the most common lifelong results of burn injuries sustained in a fire is brain injury. Cerebral hypoxia is a condition in which oxygen is cut off from the brain, causing brain cells to die. In these cases, a person can die or suffer severe life-long impairments.
Who is Liable for Burns?
If you have been in an accident involving a fire you most likely want to know who can be held liable for your injuries if anyone?
When someone is severely injured because of an accidental fire, liability for your injuries may rest with the person who started the fire. Alternatively, a person who caused a fire to go out of control may be held liable for any resulting injuries. Responsible parties may include:
- Product manufacturers
- Property owners or landlord
- Ordinary individuals who act negligently
One of the most frequent questions about fire injuries comes from when a person is injured on another’s property. Generally, an owner or business is responsible for keeping its property safe for persons lawfully on the property. Therefore, if you have suffered an injury as a result of a fire stemming from improper use of a product or maintenance of the property, you may be able to hold the property owner liable.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive from a Fire Injury in Philadelphia?
As noted above, injuries from fires may require extensive and expensive surgery and may put you out of work for an extended period of time. Many people want to know what types of compensation can they receive in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the courts have consistently held that damages are to be compensatory to the full extent of the injury sustained. This rule “is to give actual compensation, by graduating the number of damages exactly to the extent of loss” Forsyth v. Palmer, 14 Pa. 96, 97 (1850). Some of the types of compensation you may be entitled to receive are:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Emotional trauma
- Property damage
- Out of pocket expenses
There may be other damages that you may be able to recover in the event that you have been injured in a fire. You should be aware that personal injury awards are usually paid in lump-sum payments, and therefore, if you believe that you will have future expenses as a result of your injury you will be expected to prove this at the time of trial.
Rely on an Experienced Philadelphia Burn Lawyer
To speak confidentially with an experienced Pennsylvania Fire Accident attorney, call the law offices of The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940, or contact us online for a free consultation.