If you or a loved one has recently suffered a burn injury at work, you may be wondering about your rights:
- How do I apply for Workers' Comp?
- My claim was denied - how do I appeal?
- What if my injuries are permanent?
- Is it possible to file a lawsuit?
Our work injury lawyers are here to help guide you through this difficult time.
We understand the painful difficulties faced by burn victims and we know how to get the compensation you need to recover.
Burns are some of the most painful and serious workplace injuries. While workers in certain occupations may be aware of the risk of getting burned on the job, it's hard not to be blindsided when a burn accident actually happens. Within a matter of seconds, your entire life could be flipped upside down. Suddenly, you're suffering from extreme pain and unable to work while your medical bills pile up.
No injured worker should have to stress about their financial situation while they're recovering from a burn injury. Pennsylvania's Workers' Comp Act was designed to help all types of injured employees receive the financial assistance they need while they're unable to work. Any work-related injury is eligible for these benefits and employers are protected from lawsuits, regardless of who was at fault for the injury.
Is Workers' Comp Easy To Get For Burn Injuries?
Receiving the benefits you're entitled to is not always as easy as you might expect. While any work-related injury which results in at least one missed day qualifies, workers need to deal with a complicated claims process, possible disputes from their employer, and an insurance system which will look for reasons to deny claims.
It's often necessary for victims of workplace burn injuries to enlist the help of an aggressive work injury lawyer who knows how to earn maximum compensation.
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How Costly Is A Burn Injury?
According to the National Institutes of Health, medical costs for burn injury treatments are among the highest of all injuries. These injuries have some of the longest recovery times and usually require multiple forms of medical care, including:
- Long hospital stays
- Frequent doctor's visits after hospital discharge
- Reconstructive surgery
- Surgery for damaged tissue, organs, and bones
- Expensive equipment for home care
- Pain medication
- Skin grafts
- Psychiatric care
The costs may vary greatly depending on the severity of the burn. A cook who burns his arm on a hot pan may be able to get by for a few weeks with benefits for medical care and lost wages, while someone who suffers third-degree burns in a chemical fire may require lifelong medical care and be unable to work again. It's important that burn injury victims are awarded the appropriate compensation for their personal situation.
Is A Lawsuit Ever An Option?
If you or a loved one was burned in an accident caused by a third party's negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Anyone other than a co-worker or your employer qualifies as a third party. For instance, a worker who suffered a burn injury in a welding accident due to defective safety equipment could hold the manufacturer of that equipment liable for compensation beyond Workers' Comp or Social Security Disability.
This type of compensation can be a life-saver for severe burn victims who are struggling to get by with work injury benefits alone. A successful claim can provide compensation for:
- Any lost wages not covered by work benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
Classification Of Burns
Burns are classified into four different degrees, with corresponding recommendations for medical treatment:
First-degree burns are superficial burns which only affect the outer layer of skin. Symptoms include redness, dryness, and pain. Mild sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn. These burns take 3-5 days to heal and usually require little to no medical treatment.
Second-degree burns are also known as partial thickness burns and affect the secondary layer of skin known as the dermis. Sufferers of these burns may notice redness, swelling, blisters, and pain.
These burns are more serious, as serious damage must be done to the outer layer of skin before penetrating into the dermis. They take between 10-21 days to heal and often require significant medical care, such as skin grafting.
Third-degree burns penetrate through all layers of skin and often impact tissue lying beneath the dermis. Unlike the redness seen in the previous two degrees, these burns show as either white or charred black. Sufferers of these burns don't feel much pain because of catastrophic nerve damage.
Third-degree burns usually require extensive skin grafting, reconstructive surgery, and long hospital stays. Workers suffering from third-degree burns can be expected to miss work for several months, over a year, or even permanently.
Fourth-degree burns inflict damage through both layers of skin, nerves, and down into muscles, tendons, and bones. These bones frequently require amputations of the affected body parts and are often life-threatening.
Regardless of which degree your injury is, if it affects your ability to return to work, you qualify for Workers' Comp benefits.
Occupations directly involving flames aren't the only ones at risk of suffering a burn injury on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified four main categories for workplace burns:
- Thermal - Thermal burns are caused by direct contact with a heat source, such as open flames, hot liquids, objects, and explosions. Workers who work in proximity to heat sources should wear proper protective gear and be trained in fire detection and prevention.
- Chemical - If your skin comes into contact with hazardous chemicals, the results could mimic a fire burn. Chemicals can burn through your skin and tissue just like fire.
- Electrical - When electrical current travels through your body, it can cause heat burn injuries to your skin, tissues, internal organs, and bones.
- Sun Exposure - Employees who frequently work outdoors are at risk of burn injuries due to excessive sun exposure. It's extremely important that these workers are provided with proper protective gear such as sunscreen, hats, and appropriate clothing. Additionally, outdoors workers should work in the shade as much as possible and take frequent water breaks.
How A Lawyer Can Help
Only people who have suffered burn injuries can fully understand how stressful and painful they can be. Survivors must suffer through extreme pain and a long rehabilitation process before they can get back to their normal way of life. While recovering financial compensation is necessary, the complicated nature of the process can add unnecessary stress.
Our experienced work injury lawyers help work injury victims by taking care of this complex process for them. This way, you can focus on the healing process without worrying about how you'll pay your bills. You can also rest assured that our knowledgeable legal team has the resources you need in order to recover full compensation for your injuries. And we'll do all this without asking for a dime until after we've successfully won your compensation.
You wouldn't want to go to court for a crime you didn't commit without a good lawyer. The same should hold true for a Workers' Comp claim. In these situations, the other side will have insurance companies and lawyers who may attempt to limit your coverage. You need someone who knows how the system works and how to thwart these attempts to deny you the benefits you rightfully deserve.