Scald Injury Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a scald injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a scald injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
In our guide to claiming
scald injury compensation:
Recognised by the Courts as a burn injury, scalds are caused specifically by hot liquids or steams. According to a report by the British Burns Association, burns injuries are experienced by around 250,000 people in the UK each year. Of these, the majority are thermal injuries, with the largest proportion being scalds.
When scalds occur in other situations, such as an accident at work or as a result of hospital negligence - where responsibility for a person's safety lies in the hands of another - it may be possible to claim compensation.
Identifying scald injuries
Although scalds are distinguishable from burns by cause, the symptoms are the same - although they vary depending on the severity of the injury. Common scald symptoms recognised in compensation claims include:
- Peeling skin
- White or charred skin
Most scalds are considered first degree burns - affecting the top layer of the skin - or second degree burns - which damage the deep layers of the epidermis and the dermis.
More severe scalds, affecting a large surface area, can also occur causing permanent scarring and nerve damage. Steam presents a significant risk because of the high latent heat of evaporation.
Treatment varies depending on the severity and location of the scald. During the claims process, the cost of any necessary private treatment and rehabilitation will be factored into the total amount claimed.
Scald claims in the workplace
Workers who use machinery which heats liquids and chemicals to high temperatures are at high risk, as are those involved in transporting hot liquids. Industrial accidents producing superheated steam from burst or failing pipes can also result in severe scalds.
Another high risk industry is commercial kitchens. This is due to the regular exposure of workers to hot cooking oil, boiling water and steam. Even in seemingly low risk industries, such as schools, offices and hairdressers, there is a risk of scalding from kettle steam, hot drinks, and water heated to above the recommend safe temperature (44 degrees Celsius).
Scald injuries in health and social care settings
According to the HSE, health and social care settings also present high risks of scalding amongst their vulnerable users. This includes hospitals, care homes, social services premises and special schools.
Many of these settings have higher water temperatures (above 44 degrees Celsius) to satisfy hot water demand, for efficient running of the boiler and for controlling the risk from Legionella bacteria. Numerous accidents have occurred as the result of bathing and showering in circumstances where appropriate health and safety precautions are not observed.
Who is liable?
For scalds that occur as a result of an accident in the workplace, the employer could be held liable if their actions were deemed negligent.
All employers have a legal responsibility to protect their staff, ensuring they are kept safe from harm. This responsibility is set out in a range of legislation, but primarily the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work 1999.
Employers are required to carry out a full risk assessment of the work environment, identifying potential hazards and putting measures in to remove or control them.
Claims have been made for scald injuries in a range of situations, including:
- Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, protective clothing or coveralls and enclosed footwear
- Inadequate training of staff on the risks and failing to provide best practice on how to manage and handle hot liquid/steam
- Poor signage to identify potential hazards
- Poor maintenance of equipment and failing to identify faults such as leaks and broken valves
For scalds that occur in health and social care settings, liability would lie with the relevant authority or owner/manager. Like employers, these parties have a legal responsibility to prevent harm, but their duty is owed to patients and service users.
Duty-owing parties are also required to carry out full risk assessments, identify those at risk and put in measures to control potential hazards, such as identifying hot water temperature.
How can negligence be proven?
If either an employer or a local authority or owner/manager fails to manage the risks, and a worker suffers a scald injury as a result, a successful claim will rely on proving that their actions were negligent. To do this, a case will rely heavily on evidence. Examples which a solicitor will use include:
- Medical reports and photographs of the scald injury
- Accident books - noting the details of the scald and when and how it occurred
- Company health and safety records
- Any witnesses to the accident or procedures
- Photos, such as of leaking equipment or poor signage
If liability is admitted by the defendant, they should have insurance in place to settle the claim. If it is denied, or contributory negligence is argued, the case may go to the Courts.
Do I have a scald injury claim?
A scald injury claim should be possible if you sustained an injury:
- in the last three years, and;
- someone else was at fault, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Claim eligibility - Common questions
What if a child was injured?
The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.
A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a scald injury claim on their own behalf.
Can I make a scald injury claim right up to the three-year limit?
Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on a scald injury claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. The panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.
How did your injury occur?
The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:
No win, no fee, no risk
No win, no fee takes the risk out of making a scald injury claim. If your claim is unsuccessful, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
No win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making a scald injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my scald injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my scald injury claim?
If your scald injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
How do personal injury solicitors get paid?
If your scald injury claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Scald injury FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make a scald injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the scald injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your scald injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a scald injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim scald injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a scald injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.