As with any personal injury, it’s very difficult to make an accurate prediction as to what a burn injury settlement will turn out to be. The biggest factors are the severity of the injury, the intentions of the person who caused the burns and the extent to which a defendant can pay a settlement. Burn injuries tend to have higher settlement value due to the pain and permanent scarring.
In reaching a settlement, both sides will negotiate based on what they believe the plaintiff will be awarded at trial. How and where the burn injury occurs is important because the degree of the defendant’s liability can affect how much a jury might be willing to award at trial. Obviously, there is no one kind of burn injury case. They can happen in a variety of ways, including workplace injuries, faulty consumer products, arson or other intentional burning, and any kind of accident caused by negligence.
If the defendant acted intentionally or very negligently the burn victim may also be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant that acted in a reprehensible manner, therefore a wealthy defendant will have to pay higher amounts in order to “feel the sting.” A defendant that intentionally burned a plaintiff will almost always be exposed to punitive damages.
But punitive damages for gross negligence are harder to predict. An example of gross negligence would be a product manufacturer not conducting any testing on a product, even though the product was sold to be used in situations that could involve exposure to flame. If a plaintiff uses the product (an oven mitt, for example) and is badly burned, the oven mitt manufacturer could potentially be required to pay thousands or millions of dollars in punitive damages. Therefore, the threat of punitive damages will generally make a defendant (especially a wealthy one) more likely to settle the case at a higher amount than otherwise.
Compensation for burn injuries will involve the same types of damages that are on the table in other personal injury cases. However, burn injuries in particular can be extraordinarily painful and can lead to permanent, severe disfigurement.
A liable defendant must not only compensate a plaintiff for the physical pain the burn caused and will continue to cause, but also any emotional pain a disfigured burn victim has suffered and will suffer in the future. An emotional pain and suffering award will take into account the extent and nature of the disfigurement, since it is based on the likelihood of the plaintiff being embarrassed, depressed, or experiencing any of the other emotional reactions likely caused by a disfigurement. A plaintiff with a badly burned face, for example, will receive a much higher damage award than a plaintiff with a permanent scar in the middle of his or her back.
o A patient in a hospital was burned when his bed caught fire due to a product design defect. The bed manufacturer settled for $1,000,000.
o A hotel allowed its hot water system to produce scalding hot water. An already-disabled plaintiff lowered himself into a bathtub and received second degree burns. The hotel settled for $275,000.
o In a famous case, a woman received a $640,000 verdict from McDonald’s when she suffered third-degree burns from scalding hot coffee.
When you experience a burn as a result of the actions of another person or a company, you have the right to recover for your medical bills and pain and suffering. Our lawyers understand the different diagnoses of burn injuries. We work with physicians and specialists to assure that clients receive the finest legal representation, as well as the finest support and medical care.
Representing clients with burn injuries requires a team of aggressive investigators and lawyers all devoting their maximum effort to their clients. At The Levin Firm, our Pennsylvania and New Jersey personal injury attorneys work together with a team of investigators and support staff to investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend who has suffered a burn injury, contact The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183.
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