Burns injury compensation claims - Introduction
Approximately 130,000 people visit Accident and Emergency departments each year suffering with burns. Of these, some 10% require inpatient treatment in a specialist burns unit. Approximately half of all patients are children under 16 years of age.
The majority of burns injuries are categorised as less severe. In rare cases, however, the burn injury is so severe that it causes permanent nerve damage, tendon or ligament damage, scarring or mobility problems. Third-degree burns may require skin grafting and scar therapy treatments which can go on for many years. Almost all burns injuries have a psychological impact on the patient.
If you have been burned due to the act or negligence of another party, you may be eligible to make a burn injury compensation claim.
Do I have a claim for a burn injury?
If you have suffered a burn injury in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.
Get a better idea of where you standUse our Online Claim Eligibility Calculator
How burn injuries are classified
Identifying the category of burn injury that has been sustained is critical to the outcome of a burn injury compensation claim. The settlement award will depend on the severity of the injury and how much long-term disability the Claimant suffers as a result of their accident.
Burns are medically classified as first, second or third-degree, depending on how deeply they penetrate the skin's surface.
- First degree burns damage the top layer of skin only. The affected area may appear red and blotchy but should not blister. Pain, which may be considerable at first, should soon subside.
- Second degree burns damage the deep layers of the epidermis and may damage the dermis. The skin will turn red and blister. If the burn covers more than 10% of the body, the patient may go into shock due to fluid loss.
- Third degree burns are the most serious. All three layers of skin are destroyed, including the subcutaneous layer of fat and tissue beneath the dermis. The acute skin loss caused by third degree burns may require skin grafts. Invariably, these injuries take a long time to heal and cause permanent scarring.
The first step in making a claim will be to arrange a medical consultation to asses injury. This will be arranged at no charge to the Claimant.
What are the causes of burn injuries?
Quittance's solicitors have assisted people who have suffered burn injuries from fire, steam, sun, electricity, chemicals and friction. Claims have also been made following exposure to very cold substances, such as ice and CO2 fire extinguishers.
Quittance's expert panel of solicitors has assisted clients who have sustained burns injuries:
- due to an accident at work
- in a road traffic accident
- in a school or nursery
- from a defective product
- as a result of the purchase or consumption of hot food from a cafe or restaurant
- as a result of medical negligence.
The cause of a burns injury has no bearing on the amount of compensation that is awarded. However, for the purposes of making a successful claim, the cause of the injury is significant. It must be shown that the accident was caused by another party's act or negligence, and that the accident in question was the cause of the injury.
Who can make a claim?
Anyone who has suffered a burn injury in the last three years as a result of an accident that was not their fault may be eligible to claim compensation.
Where the accident involves a minor, the child's parent, guardian or relative may take on the role of a 'litigation friend.' The litigation friend will be responsible for instructing solicitors to conduct Court proceedings on the child's behalf and for acting in the child's best interest throughout the claim.
Claims can be brought on behalf of a child at any time up to their 18th birthday. Once reaching the age of 18, an injured child has a further three years (up until their 21st birthday) to bring a claim for compensation if they choose.
Establishing liability for a burn injury
Deciding who is legally accountable for an accident will depend on the law which surrounds accidents of the type the Claimant has suffered and the circumstances of the accident.
Employers, for example, have a legal duty to keep their employees safe and avoid accidents at work. As part of their wide-reaching health and safety obligations, employers must take reasonable steps to eliminate any unnecessary risks. For example, machinery and tools must be kept in good working order and the use of dangerous chemicals must be tightly controlled.
Road traffic accidents are another cause of burn injuries. While a rare occurrence, vehicles do sometimes catch fire after a collision. Where the burn injury was sustained in a car or a motorcycle accident, the Highway Code and other driving regulations must be referred to as these establish the respective duties of drivers and other road users.
It may not be clear who is responsible for the accident. If it is not certain who caused the accident, a claim may still be made.
How much can you claim for a burn injury?
The amount that a Claimant could potentially receive as compensation for a burns injury is dependent on the classification of the burn injury and the effect it has on the Claimant's life. Each case turns on its particular facts and appropriate medical evidence.
Any compensation award is made up of two elements: general and special damages.
Burn injuries can be accompanied by pain and suffering which is classified as 'general damages'. Awards for general damages are published by the Judicial College in their guidelines for personal injury compensation. The guidelines describe the type of injury and indicate the upper and lower amount of compensation a burn injury with that description should receive.
The Judicial College Guidelines are not legally binding although the Courts will refer to them when making a compensation award. In addition, most solicitors and insurance companies will refer to the guidelines when negotiating a compensation settlement.
Under the guidelines, a first degree facial burn could attract an award of up to £6,000. Severe facial burns could result in compensation of up to £64,000. Psychological trauma associated with the burn injury may attract an additional award.
Special damages cover the financial expenses associated with an injury, such as:
- loss of wages
- loss of earning capacity (future wages)
- expected future medical care costs and any which have been incurred
- travel costs and other expenses arising from the injury
- replacement and repair of damaged property
- the purchase of specialist or adaptive equipment, such as a mobility aids.
The amount of compensation for special damages is often easier to calculate as an exact monetary value for the item or loss can usually be established with specificity.
Making a No Win No Fee burn injury compensation claim
A no win no fee agreement (also referred to as a CFA or Conditional Fee Agreement) is agreed between a claimant and a qualified solicitor.
A CFA is the terms under which the solicitor represents their client.
It outlines what the lawyers will actually do as well as how he or she will be paid if your claim is won.
If you choose a Quittance Personal Injury solicitor for your burn injury claim there will be no sneaky hidden costs , no up-front fees and the reassurance that you will never be financially out of pocket.
Accidents involving children case study
£10,000 awarded for nasal burns sustained by child View case study