Burn injury compensation claims
In the following guide we explain everything you must know about making a successful burn injury compensation claim.
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.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
A claim should be possible if the burn injury ocured:
- in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and
- another party was to blame.
Even if you qualify, however, some solicitors may not take on your claim for other reasons.
What if I was partly responsible for the injury?
In these cases, claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.
The claimant will usually still be awarded some compensation, but the compensation award will be reduced. For example, if the court decides that you were 50% responsible for your burn injury, you would receive 50% less compensation.
Identifying the category of burn injury is critical to the outcome of a 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 the accident.
Burns are medically classified as:
First degree burns
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
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
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.
Typical causes of burn injuries?
Quittance's panel of 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.
We have 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 act on the child's behalf.
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.
Deciding who is legally accountable for an accident will depend on the circumstances of the accident.
Employers, for example, have a legal duty of care to keep their employees safe 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.
Compensation awards are made up of two elements:
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
Awards for general damages are published by the Judicial College in their guidelines for personal injury compensation.
The guidelines set out the upper and lower amount of compensation awarded for specific burn injuries.
The Judicial College Guidelines are referred to by the courts, solicitors and insurance companies when negotiating a compensation settlement.
Under the guidelines, for example:
- 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 costs and losses 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.
Early/interim compensation payments
An interim payment is when you receive a part-payment of your compensation settlement before the claim has been finally settled.
Interim payments can be arranged if your burn injury has left you unable to work and/or unable to pay for treatment.
To receive an interim payment, you will need to meet certain criteria.
Accidents at work - Claims against your employer
Every year, 600,000* employees are injured in accidents at work. If you have suffered an injury or illness at work, you may able to claim compensation.
Find out if you can claim burn injury compensation from your employer: Read more about work accident claims
*Source: 2016/17 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report
Road traffic accident claims
Every year almost 200,000* people are injured on Britain's roads. If you have been injured in a road accident that was not your fault, you can claim compensation.
Find out more about claiming burn injury compensation for a road accident: Read more about road accident claims
*Source: Official Department of Transport statistics (gov.uk)
Unless you are self-funding, claims solicitors now work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
No Win No Fee is an agreement (technically known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') which is entered into between the injured person and the personal injury solicitor.
No Win No Fee means that if your burn injury claim is not successful then you would pay no legal fees at all.
If you do win your case, a success fee will be deducted from the compensation award and paid to the solicitor.
How can Quittance help?
Quittance is a panel of personal injury solicitors with an excellent track record of winning claims. Our solicitors will fight for the best possible compensation settlement.
Starting a claim is a straightforward process. A short, no obligation phone conversation with one of our expert road accident solicitors will let you know where you stand and answer any questions you may have.
If you decide that you would like to pursue a claim, the solicitor will send you an information pack. The pack will contain everything you need to know including details of how no win no fee works.
To speak to us about your claim, without obligation, call 0800 612 7456.
Meet the team
The national panel of Quittance solicitors take on all types of personal injury claims, from relatively minor claims to life-changing injuries. Our solicitors are chosen on the basis of their specialist expertise and their track record in winning cases.
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert