The Legal Rights of Burn Victims
By: Lawrence J. Buckfire, Attorney at Law

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Burn injury victims often face a long and painful struggle and road to recovery. Quite often, the physical, psychological, and emotional injuries caused by burns will last a lifetime. Further complicating the matter are years of continuing treatment and the significant medical expenses involved in that treatment, not to mention the disabilities caused by many types of burns.

While many burn injuries are purely accidental, there is a significant number of burn injuries that result from the negligent actions of others or from products that pose unreasonable risks of burn injuries to individuals. These include burns caused by:

1. Chemicals

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2. Defective household products,
3. Like drain cleaners
4. Defective household appliances
5. Defective barbecues, hot water heaters, and furnaces
6. Defective vehicles
7. Defective smoke detectors
8. Fireworks
9. Spilled food and beverages
11. Defective industrial equipment

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A burn victim injured by the negligence of another or from a defective product does have legal rights. Although these rights vary from state to state, burn victims can generally file a lawsuit against a negligent person or company to recover damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, fright and shock, lost wages, and medical expenses. Based upon the nature of burn injuries, the settlements and jury verdicts obtained from these cases are often significant.

Time is of the essence if a decision is made to pursue a case on behalf of a burn victim. As time passes, witnesses become more difficult to locate, evidence is destroyed or
disappears, and the memories of parties and witnesses fades. Also, each state has a

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statute of limitations which is essentially a cut off date for filing a lawsuit in court. An injured person who fails to file suit within the prescribed time period is forever barred from doing so after the cutoff date. Further, each state usually has different statute of limitations for each different type of case. For example, the amount of time permitted to file suit for a negligence case may be different than the amount of time permitted to file a products liability case.

Based upon these time constraints, it is essential for a burn injury victim to contact a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to obtain information regarding the victim's legal rights and potential remedies. Lawyers who specialize in working with burn survivors can often anticipate the feelings of helplessness, anger, fear and other normal reactions to burn injury. Lawsuits not only serve the purpose of compensating a burn victim, but also help to empower and strengthen the victim by holding negligent persons and companies accountable for their actions. Additionally, these lawsuits often serve to enhance the safety of products and the personal conduct on individuals to prevent others from suffering similar injuries in the future.

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