Tips for Settling a Burn Injury Claim

Posted in blog on March 8, 2017

Serious burn injuries may require long periods of recovery. At the time of injury, a burn victim may not know the extent of injury or the true cost of rehabilitation. In these cases, an early settlement may not result in the full and fair compensation a victim needs. Before you agree to a potentially low settlement after a burn injury, read this.

How Burn Injury Claims Commonly Play Out

After a burn injury, an insurance company may contact you to offer a preliminary settlement. Companies do this to move through insurance claims quickly and to keep the cost of each claim as low as possible. If you accept an initial settlement offer, you may not receive the compensation you need to adequately handle your loses from a burn injury.

In cases of severe burns, we highly recommend discussing your claim with a personal injury attorney who specializes in burn injuries. Severe burns require a complex rehabilitation process that may involve multiple surgeries and therapies over time. Often, a treating physician may not know the full extent of treatment until he or she sees the results of initial therapies, which can take time. Wait until you have as much information as possible about recovery, your future quality of life, and your ability to return to work before you consider the value of any settlement terms.

If you choose to work with a burn injury attorney, you gain the opportunity to fight for fairer settlement terms. The majority of every personal injury case takes place outside the courtroom. Research, discovery, and negotiations all take place before a claim goes to trial. In many cases, the responsible party will agree to pay the same sum a jury would award the plaintiff at trial. Most attorneys will not agree to take a case to trial unless they believe they can secure a more amenable settlement on your behalf, though none can guarantee a certain outcome.

Factors That Impact Burn Injury Settlements

As you work with your attorney, insurance representatives, and your own medical providers, consider the factors that may impact your ability to secure a higher amount of compensation. In negotiations and in the courtroom, each side will look at:

  • The extent of the burn. Third-degree burns can cause permanent disfigurement and contribute to longer rehabilitation times. Second-degree burns spread out over the entire body also may affect a victim’s quality of life and recovery period. Serious burns will always secure higher settlement amounts.
  • The location of the burn. Burns in certain areas will worsen a victim’s long-term prognosis. For example, a burn on the forearm may not affect daily functionality very much, but a facial burn or a genital burn could impact someone’s life forever.
  • The intentions of the defendant. Malicious intent and excessive negligence will affect the total settlement outcome. In some cases, juries may award higher settlements in strict liability cases involving product manufacturers and/or medical professionals. A higher degree of liability increases the expectation for proper care and concern.
  • In cases of malicious intent or serious negligence, a jury may award punitive damages in addition to full compensatory damages. Often, a case must go to court for a plaintiff to receive punitive compensation.
  • The emotional pain of the plaintiff. In addition to the physical symptoms of a burn injury, emotional trauma plays a role in total compensation. Juries will consider effects such as depression, anxiety, and embarrassment that developed as a result of the accident or injury.

Every burn injury case is different. Always talk to an attorney to make an informed decision about your case. While pursuing further legal action may not make sense in cases involving minor accidental burns, you may not want to accept a settlement in cases of severe burns or egregious negligence.

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