Overview of Claims for Severe Burns
If anyone has suffered serious burn injuries in accidents that they were not responsible for, they may be entitled to make claims for severe burns. It is important to note that while compensation can be given for the physical injuries sustained, along with pain and suffering, it may also be possible to be compensated for any emotional problems suffered because of the nature of the accident and subsequent injuries.
The damage caused by serious burns can have a detrimental effect of the mental health of the victim. In additions, the changes to physical appearance can also seriously affect the victim’s self-esteem.
Some causes of severe burns which can lead to compensation include; severe scalding from hot liquids, burns caused by hot surfaces, severe burns from flammable liquids, severe burns from faulty products, severe burns caused by fire, gas explosions, electrical faults and chemical spillages.
If you have suffered burn injuries in an accident for which you were not to blame, you would be well advised to discuss the circumstances of your accident and injuries to determine whether you have a viable severe burns compensation claim.
Negligence, Contributory Negligence and Multiple Negligence for Severe Burns
Before anyone pursues any claims for severe burns, it must be established that the accident which caused the injuries to be sustained was due to third party negligence. It has to be proven that the third party in question owed the victim a duty of care and that duty of care must have been breached; resulting in the burns suffered by the victim.
In general, compensation claims for burns are possible when an accident was caused by somebody else’s negligence. However, there are cases where contributory negligence becomes an issue which could see the burn victim’s compensation figure reduced. A defence may argue, for example, that the victim has personally contributed to the cause of the accident or the severity of the burns which they sustained. However, provided that the victim could not have prevented the burns from being sustained – even if greater care could have been taken – it may still be possible to make a severe burns compensation claim.
Whenever there are multiple parties to blame for an accident, a separate severe burns compensation claim will be made against each negligent third party. For example, workplace accidents can be caused by a number of varying errors and road traffic accidents which result in fires may be caused by the shared negligence of more than one driver. Each negligent party will be liable for a degree of the compensation attributable to their contributory negligence in the cause of an accident.
Procedures to Follow After an Accident
Following an accident that results in severe burns, it is obvious that the victim would have been treated by a medical practitioner as soon as was possible. The details of the injuries would have been noted in the victim’s medical records which could be used later as evidence.
Along with having sought immediate medical attention, your accident must have been reported to the appropriate authorities. Serious burn injuries may have prevented this step from being treated straight away, but reporting your injury to the Gardai in cases of road traffic accidents, or having your injury filed in a shop, public building or work’s Accident Report Book” should be done as soon as possible after your injuries have been treated.
Failure to follow the appropriate procedures can see your entitlement to make a severe burns compensation claim put in jeopardy. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury solicitor as soon as possible after the accident. Your solicitor can advise you on the procedures that should be carried out in order to claim compensation for severe burns, and can recommend how to establish and prove that your burns were caused by another party’s negligence.
Making Claims for Severe Burns
Generally speaking, all accident victims who wish to make claims for severe burns must apply for an Injuries Board Ireland assessment of their claim. The Injuries Board process first requires the potential plaintiff to submit:
- Application Form A
- Form B (your medical evaluation)
- Any receipts and bills for expenses you wish to recover
- A fee of 40 Euro for the online application and 45 Euro for applications sent by post
It is recommended that a solicitor assist with the compilation of Application Form A in order to adequately represent your injuries and the affect they have had on your life. It can be a daunting prospect for an accident victim still recuperating from their injuries and any omissions or errors on the form can potentially see the value of your claim fall.
The Injuries Board will request consent from the “respondent” – the person or entity named as responsible for the accident – to assess your claim. If they agree the assessment will be completed and if they disagree you will be issued an “Authorisation” that will allow you to pursue your severe burns claim in court. If one or both party rejects the proposed compensation settlement by the Board, again, an Authorisation will be issued to continue your claim in court.
Your solicitor will be able to enter negotiations with the negligent party’s legal representatives in an attempt to secure a fair settlement that is satisfactory to both sides, without the need for court action. If, however, no settlement is reached, the case will be brought to court.
How Much Compensation for Severe Burns
A major concern among all accident victims who make claims for severe burns is how much compensation for their injuries they will actually receive. The process for calculating compensation is complex as it must take several factors into consideration. How serious the scarring is and its location will influence the amount of compensation that can be claimed. Facial burns and others that are also highly visible will result in the maximum compensation award for severe burns. The victim’s age would also be taken into account, as will their sex, for how much compensation awarded to women and men for severe burns differs significantly. Women will receive a higher award due to the premium which is given to external appearance. Both younger men and women will receive higher compensation awards than older plaintiffs as they will have to suffer the implications of their injuries for a longer period of time.
Your severe burns claim can include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Severe scarring
- Loss of hair
- Loss of sense of touch
- Skin grafts and plastic surgery
- Medical treatment costs
- Psychological problems
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of amenity
By speaking with an experienced personal injury compensation solicitor you may be able to gain a preliminary estimate of how much compensation you could receive. However, before an accurate figure can be give, it will be necessary to arrange consultations with burn specialists and perhaps plastic surgeons. Only after a comprehensive medical examination has been performed will a solicitor be able to indicate the complete entitlement for your severe burns compensation claim.
Summary for Severe Burns Compensation Claim
It is worth noting that according to the Irish Statute of Limitations, an accident victim usually has only two years from the date of the accident to make claims for severe burns.
Therefore, it is important that you seek legal advice about making such a claim at the first practical moment after an accident occurs if you have sustained burns in an accident for which you were not at fault. Every element of your injury needs to be taken into consideration to ensure that you receive sufficient payment for your pain, suffering and loss. By engaging a solicitor to compile a claim for compensation, you will be making sure that your case has the highest likelihood of being successful and that you obtain your complete entitlement to compensation.
No two claims are identical – even if the injuries sustained are the same, and each case should be evaluated based on its own individual merits. A compensation award for severe burns will never quite replace the life you had prior to the injury but it can assist you in living as comfortable a life as possible and will guarantee that you do not suffer financially because of the negligence of others.