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Burn Injury Settlement Value And Compensation | Legal Help

If a burn injury was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, victims may be entitled to compensation. However, determining the value of a burn injury settlement can be a complex process that requires careful consideration of various factors. On this page we will explore the factors that determine the value of a burn injury settlement, how damages are quantified, and the types of compensation that burn injury victims may be entitled to.


Sustaining a burn injury is always traumatic and life-altering experience. The tissue and nerve damage victims experience can cause significant physical pain, scarring, and emotional distress. In addition to the physical and emotional toll, burn injuries can also result in significant financial burdens such as medical bills, lost wages, and ongoing care expenses. For these reasons it is imperative to have your claim properly analyzed by a burn injury attorney with experience ensuring that a burn victims damages are full appreciated and included in the settlement.


If you are dealing with a burn injury case, a burn injury attorney can assist. Based in Texas, we provide legal support to clients nationwide. If you are outside of Texas, we can help you find the most suitable burn injury lawyer in your area. For legal help, contact us today at 866-434-0014 or schedule a free consultation online.


Burn Injury Settlement Value And Compensation  Legal Help

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What is A Burn Injury?


A burn injury is damage to the skin or other tissues caused by heat, electricity, radiation, or chemicals. Burn injuries can range from minor to severe and can cause pain, redness, blistering, and scarring. Burn injuries are typically classified by their degree of severity, with first-degree burns being the mildest and third-degree burns being the most severe.


First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of the skin and may cause redness, swelling, and pain. Second-degree burns affect the outer and underlying layer of the skin and can cause blistering, swelling, and intense pain. Third-degree burns destroy all layers of the skin and may also damage the underlying tissues, muscles, and bones. They can cause significant scarring, and in severe cases, may require skin grafts or other surgical interventions to treat.


Immediate treatment of a burn injury involves running cool (not cold) water over the affected area for several minutes, covering the burn with a clean, dry cloth, and seeking medical attention if the burn is severe.


Burn Injury Degrees And How It Impacts The Settlement Value


It's important to note that the settlement calculation also takes into account the size of the burn, not just its severity. For example, a second-degree burn covering 30% of the body may result in a higher settlement than a third-degree burn covering only 5%.


First Degree Burns


First-degree burns. sometimes called "superficial burns" are the mildest type of burn injury, and they only affect the outer layer of the skin. Symptoms of first-degree burns include redness, mild pain, and swelling. Sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn.


These types of burns usually heal within a few days, and medical treatment is usually not necessary. Over-the-counter pain relievers and cool compresses may be used to alleviate symptoms. It's important to keep the affected area clean and dry to prevent infection.


If the first-degree burn covers a large area of the body, or if it's located on the face, hands, feet, or genitals, medical attention should be sought. Additionally, if the burn was caused by chemicals, electricity, or radiation, medical attention should also be sought, as these types of burns may be more serious than a typical first-degree burn.


First-degree burn cases generally result in settlements that are less than $10,000 on average. Due to the relatively mild nature of these injuries, the compensation payouts are typically not significant. As a result, there are few law firms that specialize in handling these types of claims. Second Degree Burns

When a burn injury extends beyond the outermost layer of the skin and reaches the deeper layer of the skin called the dermis, it's classified as a second-degree burn.


Second-degree burns typically cause the affected area of the skin to become red and swollen, with a wet or shiny appearance and the formation of blisters. Whether or not a second-degree burn will completely heal depends on the extent of the damage. If the burn is relatively shallow and only affects the upper part of the dermis, full recovery is usually possible without any permanent scarring. However, more severe second-degree burns that extend deeper into the dermis often result in permanent scarring or skin discoloration.


While we do not have access to average settlement statistics for second-degree burn injuries, based on our burn injury attorneys' experience, we estimate that the average settlement amount for a second-degree burn falls between $25,000 and $75,000. It's possible that settlements could be higher or lower than this range, but we anticipate that approximately 90% of compensation payouts fall within this range.

Third Degree Burns


A third-degree burn occurs when both the outer and deeper layers of skin, including the dermis, are completely damaged. This is also known as a "full-thickness burn."


Third-degree burns typically cause the damaged skin area to turn black, brown, or yellow. Unlike second-degree burns, the damaged skin is dry to the touch and has a leathery appearance. These burns are so severe that they destroy nerve endings in the area, which means that they are typically not painful to the touch in the center. Third-degree burns are extremely serious injuries that require immediate medical attention and can be caused by scalding liquid, flames from a fire, as well as electrical or chemical sources.


Our burn injury lawyers have dealt with third-degree burn injury cases where victims had strong and speedy recoveries, while others have experienced extended suffering and even death. As a result, the range of settlements for a third-degree burn injury can vary from $100,000 to millions of dollars.


Fourth Degree Burns


The most severe and harmful burns are classified as fourth-degree burns. The burns involve damage that goes beyond both layers of the skin and into the subcutaneous tissue. Some fourth-degree burns even involve damage to the underlying fascia, muscles, and bones. This is a brutal and extremely painful injury.


Fourth-degree burns almost always leave the damaged area completely black and charred in appearance. Even when confined to a small area of the body, fourth-degree burns can be life-threatening injuries.


Burns of this depth and severity can release deadly toxins into the bloodstream. Fourth-degree burns on limbs or extremities will almost always require immediate amputation.


The expected settlement compensation in the average 4th-degree burn case will run in the millions if liability is established.


Is There an Average Burn Injury Settlement?


Some burn injury cases settle for ten’s of million of dollars while others may settle for under a million. Unfortunately, there is no “average or typical” settlement amount. Here is why.


No two burn injury cases are exactly alike, so there is no way to compare cases to each other. Some cases go to trial while others are settled before the trial.


At trial there can be a lot of unknowns. That is why when people ask us what is the average payout in a burn injury lawsuit, we have to tell them there is no real way of knowing.


The amount of compensation you can receive will depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the burns, the extent of medical treatment needed, the impact on your daily life and ability to work, and the degree of negligence, intentional conduct, or strict liability of the other party.


While there is no average burn injury settlement, our experienced burn injury attorneys have recovered significant compensation for our clients. You can view examples of our burn injury awards and settlements here.


Here is everything you need to know from our top rated burn injury attorneys.


Calculate How Much Money You Have Lost or Stand To Lose


It might seem awkward to think of money when talking about burn injuries and the harm caused. After all, the pain, suffering and emotional trauma that burn injury victims endure cannot be fully compensated.


Nevertheless, Texas law allows burn injury victims to receive compensation for certain financial losses, such as:

  • Medical expenses incurred due to the burn injury.

  • Future medical expenses that the burn injury victim will need due to their injuries.

  • Medical needs, including skin graphs, scar tissue releases, excisions, and amputations.

  • Lost wages or income if the burn injury victim is unable to work due to their injuries.

  • The cost of hiring someone to perform household tasks that the burn injury victim is unable to perform due to their injuries.

  • Pain and suffering endured by the burn injury victim.

Calculating these economic losses is not easy. No one really knows how much the burn injury victim will require for future medical treatment or how much income they would have earned had they not been injured.


Nevertheless, an experienced burn injury attorney can estimate the amount of compensation by looking at the severity of the burn injuries, the extent of medical treatment needed, the impact on the victim's daily life and ability to work, and the degree of negligence or responsibility of the other party.


If the victims injuries resulted in a loss of life, the estate can also bring a survival action and receive compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased endured in his or her recovery process.


While no amount of compensation can fully make up for the harm caused by a burn injury, seeking financial compensation can help ease the financial burden caused by such injuries.


The Quality of Your Medical Care Also Impacts The Case Outcome


It is crucial to take measures to safeguard yourself and your family because, regardless of what your employer or their insurance representatives may claim, they will likely provide inadequate compensation for your injuries and fail to offer the necessary medical care to support you and your family for the long term. To protect your health and right to obtaining the maximum level of compensation for your damages, you should hire an experienced attorney that has access to top reconstructive surgeons, plastic surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, and medical professionals across the country.


Skin burn injuries can result in permanent physical disabilities, requiring ongoing medical treatment and preventing you from earning a livelihood to support your family.


Analyze Your Intangible Losses


California law recognizes the emotional devastation that burn injury victims and their families experience after a burn injury.


Because of this, the law allows you to receive compensation for a variety of emotional losses, including:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Emotional distress

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Loss of quality of life

  • Disfigurement and scarring

  • Nerve damage

  • Loss of consortium

These losses are very real. However, they are harder to calculate because there is no receipt or bill that identifies their value. Instead, you and your burn injury attorney will need to consider how you can present proof of these intangible losses.


Depending on the circumstances, you might receive as much in compensation for these intangible losses as you do for the economic losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, and future income—or even more. Seeking financial compensation for these intangible losses can help ease the emotional and financial burden caused by a burn injury.


Possibility of Punitive Damages


In the event that the defendant acted with intention or extreme negligence, also known as "gross negligence" in legal terms, the burn victim or plaintiff may be eligible to receive punitive damages as part of their claim. Punitive damages are designed to penalize the defendant for their particularly reprehensible behavior and require the well-off defendant to pay higher amounts to be further punished for their negligent actions. If a defendant intentionally caused a burn injury to the plaintiff, they are almost always liable to pay punitive damages in a burn injury case.


However, predicting punitive damages for gross negligence can be challenging. For example, gross negligence may involve a product manufacturer that failed to conduct proper testing on a product, despite knowing that it was intended for use in situations involving exposure to fire. If the plaintiff uses the product, such as an oven mitt, and is badly burned as a result, the oven manufacturer may be required to pay thousands or even millions of dollars in punitive damages to the plaintiff. In such cases, the mere threat of punitive damages can often convince a defendant, especially one with significant wealth, to settle the lawsuit for a higher amount.


Factors that Might Reduce Your Burn Injury Settlement Amount


Sustaining a burn injury can be a life-changing experience that can lead to significant physical, emotional, and financial damages. If you've sustained a burn, you might be wondering what factors can impact the compensation you receive. The following variables that can affect the settlement amount you receive.


The severity of burn injuries


The severity of burn injuries is a crucial factor in determining the value of a personal injury case. Insurance carriers and a jury will consider the permanence of the injuries, such as scarring and disfigurement, and the degree of disability caused by the burns. Burn injuries resulting in permanent damage or disability will likely result in a higher compensation value compared to relatively minor burn injuries.


Degree property damage


In addition to personal injury claims, property damage is also common in burn injury cases. The total value of property damaged in an incident, such as a fire, will also be factored into the overall compensation value of the claim.


Total medical bills


Receiving adequate medical care for burn injuries is crucial, but can also be costly. A victim should not settle a personal injury case before reaching maximum medical improvement. Understanding the total cost of medical bills before agreeing to any settlement is crucial to ensure adequate compensation for medical expenses.


Insurance policy limits


Insurance policy limits of the at-fault party's insurance carrier also play a significant role in the total compensation value of a burn injury claim. If the policy limit does not cover the victim's total losses, the victim may need to pursue compensation directly from the personal assets of the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit.


Shared fault


Burn injury victims may still be able to recover compensation even if they are partially at fault for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation the victim receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault, impacting the overall compensation value of the claim.


Where the lawsuit is filed


The location where a burn injury lawsuit is filed can also affect the value of the claim. Different cities or counties may place a higher value on various factors, including pain and suffering, which could impact the overall compensation value of the claim.


Precedence in similar cases


Precedence in similar burn injury claims can also play a role in determining the compensation value. Past verdicts and personal injury cases can help a judge or jury lean a certain way and may impact the value of the claim.


How you handle insurance carriers


Communication with insurance carriers is crucial in burn injury lawsuits. Injury victims should avoid giving recorded statements to insurance claims adjusters and signing over their full medical records, which can significantly impact the value of their claim.


How much evidence is available


The availability of evidence to prove the total value of the claim and liability of the other party is crucial in burn injury cases. Insufficient evidence may make it difficult for the victim to receive adequate compensation.


Whether or not you can work


Lost income is a significant factor in burn injury compensation. If a victim cannot work while recovering, they should be compensated for any lost income. If they can work, but not at the same capacity as before the injury, their compensation value may be reduced accordingly.


Examples of Burn Injury Awards and Verdicts


In this section, we will explore some examples of burn injury awards and jury verdicts to get a better understanding of how the legal system handles these types of cases. These cases demonstrate the different factors that can impact the amount of compensation awarded, as well as the types of damages that may be available to burn injury victims.


Freeland v. Ferrellgas


The case of Freeland v. Ferrellgas involved a retired Michigan couple who suffered severe burns in a propane gas explosion, which resulted in the husband's death. The wife survived but sustained critical burns. The case was centered on the retailer's failure to warn the Freelands about the defects of odorized propane, as well as their neglect to respond to several calls regarding gas leaks. The case was presented in state-ordered binding arbitration, and the award granted was $8,300,000.


Jentz v. ConAgra Foods Inc


In Jentz v. ConAgra Foods Inc., three workers (Jentz, Schmidt, and Becker) in Illinois suffered disfigurement, scarring, and permanent disability in a grain bin explosion at ConAgra's Chester, Illinois facility. The explosion caused third and fourth-degree burns, and after a 17-day trial, a jury awarded nearly $180 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The compensatory damages, excluding a single loss of consortium claim, amounted to more than $75 million.


Brown v. City of Chicago


In the 2018 Illinois case Brown v. City of Chicago, the plaintiff suffered third-degree burns on her head, neck, and shoulders due to an accident involving a police car. Following the trial, the jury granted her $530,000 in compensation.


Countryman, et. al. v. Iowa Double Circle


Countryman, et al. v. Iowa Double Circle, et al. involved a tragic incident where seven people lost their lives, and many others were seriously injured during a family gathering in Richland, Iowa. The cause of the explosion was determined to be the accumulation of propane gas, and the case focused on the defendant's negligent failure to warn about the dangers of propane and the appropriate measures to take to prevent such incidents.


The settlement for the case involved the propane retailer agreeing to pay the policy limit of $5,000,000, while the homeowner settled for $1,300,000. The wholesalers and pipeline also settled for a confidential amount before the trial began. The appliance manufacturer, Lennox, went to trial, but the case was eventually settled for a substantial confidential amount during voir dire. The media reported total settlements to be around $17,000,000.


During the case, the District Court dismissed a wholesaler based on the limited liability statute. This decision was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which reversed the ruling and found that a managing partner of a limited liability corporation could be held personally liable.



Are Burn Injury Settlements Taxed?


In general, burn injury settlements are not taxable as income, as they are considered to be compensatory damages intended to compensate the victim for their losses and injuries. This means that the settlement amount is not considered to be earned income and is not subject to federal income tax.


However, there may be some exceptions, such as if the settlement includes punitive damages, which are intended to punish the party responsible for the injury rather than compensate the victim. Punitive damages may be subject to taxation, so it is important to consult with a tax professional to determine the taxability of any settlement amount.


Additionally, any interest earned on the settlement amount may be subject to taxation. It is important to keep accurate records and consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with any tax obligations related to a burn injury settlement.


Why Burn Injury Settlement Calculators Don’t Work


Burn injury settlement calculators may not work for several reasons:


Inaccurate Information: Settlement calculators rely on accurate and detailed information to provide an estimate of the settlement value. However, many factors can affect the value of a burn injury claim, such as the extent of the burn, the location of the burn, and the cost of medical treatment. Without accurate information, settlement calculators cannot provide an accurate estimate.


Complexity of Burn Injuries: Burn injuries can be complex and have long-lasting effects. Settlement calculators may not take into account the full range of damages that a burn injury victim may be entitled to, such as lost wages, loss of earning capacity, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.


Lack of Legal Expertise: Settlement calculators are not designed to replace the expertise of a qualified personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can evaluate the specific circumstances of a case, conduct a thorough investigation, and negotiate with insurance companies to obtain the maximum settlement for their client.


Insurance Company Tactics: Insurance companies often use settlement calculators as a tool to undervalue the worth of a claim. They may offer a settlement amount that is much lower than the actual value of the claim. In such cases, an experienced attorney can help negotiate a fair settlement or file a lawsuit to pursue a just resolution.


Talk to our Burn Injury Attorneys Today


After experiencing a burn injury, it is common to feel overwhelmed, scared, and uncertain about the future. That's where we can help.


At Sneed & Mitchell LLP, our burn injury lawyers will take on your case and begin building a claim for compensation, giving you the time and space to focus on your recovery. Instead of worrying about legal paperwork and deadlines, you can prioritize your health and well-being.


To get started, please don't hesitate to contact us today. We are just a phone call away and are always available to answer any questions you may have and handle your case on a contingency fee basis. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 866-434-0014 or send us a online message. Our burn injury lawyers have a proven track record of securing significant settlements for our clients.


This post was written by Attorney Niles Sneed. Last updated March 10, 2023.

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