Burn injuries: Common causes and legal remedies

A burn is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as an injury that results from exposure to "fire, heat or radiation." The World Health Organization (WHO) further expands this definition, noting that in some cases respiratory damage that results from exposure to smoke can also qualify as a burn injury.

What are some common causes of burn injuries?

Burn injuries can occur in any number of situations. A recent case making its way through the court system involves a woman that was seriously injured due to burns she suffered from a hot beverage. The case involves a woman who stopped at a drive through for a cup of coffee. When attempting to pass the coffee to the passenger, the lid popped off the cup and scalding hot coffee dumped over the woman's mid-section. The coffee was estimated to have a temperature of 190 degrees at the time of the spill and caused first and second degree burns over the woman's body.

Exposure to hot liquid is just one common cause of burn injuries. Additional causes can include:

  • Hot metal
  • Electricity
  • Radiation
  • Chemicals
  • Fire

Treatment for burns is often very expensive. The most recent data from WHO estimates that care for children alone in the United States who suffer from burn injuries cost over $211 million in a single year. This can result to the cost of covering the many potential complications, such as infection and scarring. If the burn injury covers a large portion of skin, skin grafts may be required.

The woman in the case noted above accumulated thousands of dollars in medical bills to treat her injuries. As a result, she sought to hold the establishment that provided the coffee responsible for these costs. The business had reported repeated problems with the lids of the cups, but had not warned clients. As a result, thus far courts have ruled in her favor. The business, Starbucks, may appeal the most recent ruling.

Are there any remedies available for victims of burn injuries?

Those who suffer serious burn injuries and require medical care are likely overwhelmed by the estimated cost of treatment. This is especially true when you are focused on trying to get a loved one or yourself back to good health. You have options. Whether the injury was the result of an accident at work, at home, while on vacation or while visiting a friend it is wise to seek legal counsel.

If you believe another individual is responsible for the injury, compensation may be available through a personal injury lawsuit. This can result in an award of money damages to help cover the costs that result from the injury.