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Unfortunately, deaths and serious burn injuries from fires occur all too frequently. Each year in the U.S., more than 450,000 serious burn injuries occur.
In just one year, the number of people who died from fire or smoke inhalation reached 3,275. (1) “The odds of a U.S. resident dying from exposure to fire, flames or smoke is 1 in 1442,” according to the American Burn Association. (2)
The New York Post reported that in New York City 88 people died in fires during 2018. That number was up from the previous year’s total of 73. (3)
And, the U.S. Fire Administration data for 2017 indicate that in New York there were 1.4 deaths and 18.1 injuries per 1,000 fires. (4)
Even when you survive your injuries, your life will never be the same. Your recovery can take weeks, months, or even years. If you have received burn injuries, you are probably facing multiple treatments as you try to recover.
“Burns are tissue damage that results from heat, overexposure to the sun or other radiation, or chemical or electrical contact,” says the Mayo Clinic. (5)
Burn victims can suffer serious and painful injuries that may be life threatening, debilitating, or have complications. Besides the vision many people have of burns due to a large fire breaking out, there are different causes and types of burns.
Burn severity is measured in terms of degrees, your age, and the percentage of skin area affected by the burn, among other factors, explains The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC). (7)
Mayo Clinic adds, “Burn symptoms vary depending on how deep the skin damage is. It can take a day or two for the signs and symptoms of a severe burn to develop.” (8)
Treatments for serious burn injuries range from medications and wound dressings to therapy and surgery. Treatments may take months and require follow-up care besides physical and occupational therapy. Treating a burn injury can be expensive and painful. (16)
According to the Mayo Clinic, serious burn victims may require a procedure where a breathing tube (tracheostomy) is inserted into a hole created in your neck so you can breathe. You may also require a feeding tube and intravenous (IV) fluids to prevent dehydration and organ failure. Antibiotics, along with pain and anxiety medications, can be administered intravenously. (17)
With some serious burn injuries, unhealthy tissues must first be removed before healing can begin. This may require another surgical procedure.
Debridement is a procedure to remove unhealthy tissue from a wound to promote healing.
In serious burn injuries that cover a large area of the body, skin grafts may be necessary.
“Skin grafts are thin layers of skin that surgeons take from an unburned area and then surgically place on the burned area,” explains MSKTC.
Grafting procedures are surgery that can pose risks and complications.
Skin grafts pose risks of complications in several areas. These include surgical risks, and complications with the grafted skin itself, among others.
If you have suffered a serious burn injury while at work, at an event, on the roadway, or even at home, you may be entitled to compensation. The cause of your burn injuries impacts who should be held responsible.
For example, if you suffer from overexposure to the sun due to sunbathing, you are accountable for your own injuries.
However, if you suffer a severe burn from a tanning bed that has malfunctioned, the business that owns and operates the tanning bed could be held responsible for your injuries. The tanning bed manufacturer may also be liable if the bed is defective.
If you are in a building or other structure and get caught in a fire that severely burns you, many groups could be held responsible, including the owner of the building.
In personal injury cases, like burn injuries, the cause of the burn injury matters. If you have been injured due to the actions or negligence of someone else, you may be due compensation.
Importantly, if what caused your burn injury was a violation of the New York City Fire Code, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
The New York City Fire Code is extensive and detailed. For example, it dictates the construction, accessibility, and even number and location of fire exits in buildings. (27)
These are only a few topics covered in the New York City Fire Code. It is intended to help prevent fires and save lives. When the Fire Code is ignored or otherwise violated, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against building owners and businesses.
However, there are other justifications for a lawsuit, such as either the lack of fire prevention measures at all, or they were carelessly adhered to.
Fire prevention measures should be in place in any building or business. These measures need to be diligently observed by building owners, employers, managers, and employees.
Yet many fires can be traced back to preventive measures done incorrectly or never even implemented. When that happens and you are injured in a fire, a lawsuit may be warranted.
For example, say that the cause of a fire in which you were burned was due to an electrical hazard. There might have been a problem with the building’s wiring, or it could be due to equipment malfunctions and frayed electrical cords.
It is the responsibility of the building’s owners to ensure the building’s wiring and electrical outlets are regularly checked and maintained.
If the fire is found to be due to equipment failure or frayed electrical cords connected to that equipment, the owner of that equipment ― the business ― is responsible.
Businesses and managers should regularly check, maintain, or replace equipment and electrical cords as needed. If they do not, the business and its management can be held liable.
Most states have a limited window of time for you to file a lawsuit to gain compensation for personal injuries. This window of time is called a “statute of limitations.”
Once this window has closed, you will not be able to file a lawsuit or make any claims against the parties responsible for your injuries. So you want to take any legal action sooner, rather than later.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state. According to the laws of New York, CPLR 214(5) sets the statute of limitations for personal injury claims at 3 years, beginning from the time your injuries were sustained. (31)
If you or a loved one has suffered serious burn injuries in New York, do not wait. Contact Weitz & Luxenberg as soon as possible. You need attorneys who are experienced in litigating large personal injury cases who can go up against large companies.
Weitz & Luxenberg has an experienced and knowledgeable legal team with a track record of success in these types of cases.
The Weitz & Luxenberg legal team has won large verdicts and settlements for our clients.