Burn Injury Accident Cases: The Road To Recovery

By: Robert Brenner, Esquire

Burn injury cases present their own unique set of challenges even under the best of circumstances. Burn injury cases present themselves in many forms, including structure fires, construction site incidents, electrocution incidents, product defect, and product design failures, to name a few.

When faced with a burn injury case, you are faced with a case that will contentious, expensive to litigate, and expert intensive. However, the earlier into the case an attorney is retained, the better off the litigant will be fore several reasons. One of the main reasons to retain an attorney early on is to preserve the evidence. Preserving the evidence, whether it be the accident scene or product, will allow an early and thorough investigation of the cause of the fire, electrocution, or product failure. Early thorough investigation as to the cause of the incident prior to the filing of the lawsuit allows you to focus your investigation and determine the viability of the case that will allow the potential for substantia l recovery and compensation to the burn survivor and/or family.

Due to the complexity of these cases, an initial review of the injuries and damages is crucial as generally speaking, these cases involve major injuries and thus present serious recovery challenges. In a perfect world, the burn survivor's testimony on the particular details of what took place that caused the incident in the first place will be important. However, often times as not, the burn survivor either has no recollection as to what happened or does not know what cause the fire, electrocution, or defect in the first place. Thus, the need for accident reconstruction by various types of experts. For example, in a structure fire, it is important to preserve the scene of the accident if possible and have a "cause and origin" expert investigate this fire scene to determine where the fire started and the cause of the fire. In other types of incidents, it may be necessary to reconstruct what took place by hiring various types of experts, such as electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and perhaps a human factors expert to determine the cause of the incident. For example, if a power line is involved in an accident, it may be necessary to have an electrical engineer to go to the scene of the accident and take measurements of the height of the power line at the point where contact was made with the line and either the ground or structure that may have been involved, to determine whether or not there were any electrical code violations regarding the height of the line. It may also be important to determine the temperature at the time the incident took place to determine whether or not the power line had an excessive amount of sag which caused the line to be lower than allowed by law. This is a simple example of what is often times necessary in the investigation of this type of electrocution case. Each case requires its own analysis to determine what type of investigation and/or expert is necessary in reconstructing the accident and determining fault.

Depending on the nature of the way the accident took place, there may be several potential defendants, including public entities, premises owners, product manufacturers, private entities, such as general contractors, their subcontractors, and project managers. Often times it is necessary to identify who owned, controlled, and possessed the property, whether it be real or product at issue. Additionally, there may be multiple problems which caused the incident and thus multiple defendants; and if so, it is necessary to determine if each on its own presented a hazard or whether it was a combination that created the hazard. Next, you must establish how the defect or problem came into effect - who created it, how long it existed, whether there is a history of prior incidents or knowledge by someone in a position to have fixed it before the incident took place.

Another example would be an accident at a construction site which can be the result of a fire, an electrical failure, or perhaps a gas leak resulting in an explosion and fire. In these types of cases, it may be asserted that the potential defendant failed to maintain the area in a reasonably safe condition. In order for a burn survivor to prevail in this type of case, it must be established that:

1. The defendants owned the burn survivor a legal duty
2. That the defendants breached the duty
3. That the breach was a proximate or legal cause of injuries suffered by the burn survivor
4. Damages

Generally speaking, the law provides that everyone is responsible for the injuries to another by their lack of ordinary care or skill in the management of their property or person. Ordinary care is that degree of care which people of ordinarily prudent behaviors can reasonably be expected to exercise under the circumstances. In essence, the care required must be in proportion to the danger and risks to be avoided and the consequences that might reasonably be anticipated.

In addition to this general duty to use ordinary care, an individual may have a duty to act affirmatively to warn or protect others or to control the conduct of others if a special relationship exists between the actor and either the person to be controlled or the person who need protection. It is important to note that a duty of care may arise through a law, contract, or the general character of the activity or the relationship between the parties.

To determine fault under a premises liability theory, the crucial elements are ownership, possession, and control of the premises. The person who owns, possesses, or controls the premises may be responsible for any injuries arising from the condition of the premises.

The above are some examples of what is involved with incidents involving burn injuries. Generally speaking, these are complicated cases that involve complex, analysis, but the rewards for both the burn victims and family make pursuing them worthwhile and aim to restore "economic dignity" for the burn survivor, as well as the family members.

About The Author

Robert A. Brenner, Esquire limits his practice to the representation of persons who are catastrophically injured. Mr. Brenner tries to restore economic dignity to people who have had their lives yanked out from under them. Mr. Brenner received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1968 from the University of Southern California and his Juris Doctor degree from Whittier College, Beverly School of Law in 1975. Mr. Brenner is a member of the American Trial Layers Association, the Consumer Attorneys Association of California and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, as well as Super Layers for the years 2006 and 2007. "The Burn Injury Law Group of Robert A. Brenner" provides legal representation to accident victims who have suffered serious burn injuries.

To learn more about The Law Offices of Robert A. Brenner go to www.AttorneyRobertBrenner.com.