Expenses After A Workplace Burn Injury
Burn injuries require some of the most extensive medical care and medical expenses for burns are higher than for most other injuries. Recovering from a burn injury is painful and time-consuming, and may require such treatments as:
- Long hospital stays following the injury
- Regular doctor’s appointments
- Reconstructive surgery for scarring or disfigurement
- Internal surgery for damaged, tissues, organs, and bones
- Home-care expenses (e.g. medical treatment, caregivers, etc.)
- Skin grafts
- Pain medication
- Psychiatric care for mental and emotional trauma
Your total costs will vary depending on how severe you burn is. For victims of especially severe burns, it may be necessary to seek additional compensation outside of workers’ comp.
Some burn victims never fully recover from their injuries and require a lifetime of expensive medical care. Others simply require compensation for a few weeks while they allow their injury to be treated and heal. But regardless of how severe your injury may be, you are entitled to financial compensation while you’re unable to work.
What Are My Options For Compensation?
Depending on the severity of your injury and the circumstances behind your accident, you may be eligible for one or more of the following forms of compensation:
For burn injury victims, there are a few possible forms of financial compensation provided by workers’ comp:
- Temporary partial disability – If your injury temporarily limits your ability to work, but only partially, you’ll receive TPD benefits until you’ve recovered and returned to work.
- Permanent partial disability – If your injury has caused a permanent loss of use of a body part related to your earning potential, you would qualify for PPD benefits. These come in the form of either scheduled or non-scheduled loss of use, depending on the affected body part.
- Temporary total disability – If you’re completely unable to work because of your injury, but only temporarily, you would likely qualify for TTD benefits.
- Permanent total disability – If you’re permanently unable to hold any employment because of your injury, you would qualify for PTD benefits which have no limit on number of payable weeks.
- Scarring and disfigurement – If your burn injury caused serious or permanent disfigurement or scarring in your face, head, or neck, you would be eligible for up to $20,000 in compensation.
Social Security Disability
Those who are unable to ever work again could qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In some cases, these may be claimed alongside workers’ compensation. But your total payments between the two cannot exceed 80% of your average weekly wage.
Applying for Social Security disability benefits is often even more difficult than applying for workers’ compensation. But a skilled work injury lawyer can assist you with both matters.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If a negligent third party (someone other than your co-workers and employer) caused your accident and burn injuries, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if you were working on a construction site and an independent contractor caused a fire but violating safety standards, you could potentially sue that contractor for additional damages beyond workers’ comp, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Medical expenses
- Loss of future earning potential
Types Of Burn Accidents
Not all burn injuries involve direct contact with a flame or heat source. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are four main categories for types of workplace burn accidents:
Thermal burns are what most people think of when they think of a burn injury. These involve direct contact with heat sources, including open flames, liquids, hot objects, steam, and explosions. In order to reduce the risk of thermal burns, employees who work with heat sources should be properly instructed on fire prevention and safety and wear personal protective equipment.
Chemical burns occur when your skin or eyes make contact with corrosive chemicals which have the ability to eat away at your skin and deep tissues. This type of burn injury is common among the following occupations:
- Professional cleaners often suffer chemical burns from industrial cleaning products, such as rust removers or drain cleaners.
- Laboratory workers can suffer chemical burns due to working directly with hazardous chemicals in the lab.
- Factory workers may come into contact with dangerous chemicals during the production or cleaning process.
In order to protect employees from chemical burns, employers should instruct their staff on the principles of Hazard Communication, which includes knowledge of the symbols and warning labels for dangerous chemicals.
Electricians and other tradespeople who regularly work closely with electrical sources can suffer heat burn injuries if they experience an electrical shock or electrocution. When electrical current travels through your body, it meets resistance when it comes into contact with tissue. This results in internal burn injuries.
Electrical workers should always be mindful of nearby electrical sources and keep an eye out for any potential hazards, such as a live wire. Additionally, the proper safety equipment can help prevent these injuries.
Sunburns vary in severity, from relatively minor painful redness which goes away in a couple days to severe 2nd or even 3rd-degree sunburns which cause damage to the underlying tissues. Workers with jobs which require working long hours under the hot sun are at risk of suffering a debilitating sunburn which could require missed time for recovery.
Construction workers, roofers, landscapers, and other outdoors workers should make sure to wear sunscreen and hats, take frequent breaks in the shade, and drink plenty of water to avoid getting burned or suffering another heat-related injury, such as heatstroke.
Degrees Of Burns
Burn injuries are categorized into four different degrees:
- First degree – A first-degree burn is relatively minor and only involves burns of the outer layer of skin. This is the common sunburn you’d get after a day at the beach without using enough sunscreen. The main symptoms are redness, dryness, and pain. First-degree burns usually heal within 3-5 days and rarely require medical treatment.
- Second degree – A second-degree burn affects your outer layer of skin and also penetrates into a secondary skin layer called the dermis. Symptoms may include blisters, redness, pain, and swelling. Second-degree burns can cause serious damage to your skin and take an average of 10-21 days to heal. More serious second-degree burns may require skin grafts.
- Third degree – Third-degree burns are extremely serious and cause catastrophic damage to all layers of your skin as well as underlying tissues. These burns appear white or charred black. A third-degree burn causes serious nerve damage, which can result in permanently disabling injuries.
- Fourth degree – Fourth-degree burns cause devastating damage by burning through your skin, nerves, and tissues and penetrating all the way into your tendons, muscles, and bones. Many victims of these burns don’t survive, and those who do frequently require amputations.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
When you’re seeking compensation for a burn injury, it’s important to recover every penny you’re entitled to. Treatment for these injuries is extremely expensive, and many workers struggle to receive benefits like workers’ comp and Social Security. Burn victims shouldn’t be forced to jump over hurdles to get the financial assistance they need. That’s why our experienced work injury lawyers are proud to help New Yorkers in this situation get the compensation they need during their recoveries.
Banville Law also has personal injury specialists who can determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit. When negligence causes a workplace fire and people get hurt, it’s important to hold the responsible parties liable for the damages they’ve caused. Additionally, a personal injury verdict or settlement can provide additional compensation that burn victims often require.
If you’re worried that you can’t afford a lawyer, don’t be. We understand the pain, suffering, and stress you’re going through. That’s why we offer free consultations and will only ask for payment after you’ve received the funds you deserve. This way, you can focus on your recovery without worrying about how you’ll pay your bills.
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