Burn Injury Settlements: How Much Can Victims Get? (2024)

Sarah Edwards


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 4 mins

Burns happen when a chemical process destroys the skin. Unfortunately, burn injuries are common in all types of traumatic incidents, from car accidents to workplace accidents.

The resulting injuries affect your life in many ways. These injuries increase the risk of infection and dehydration. You could experience excruciating pain or, worse yet, nerve damage that robs you of any feeling in your skin. Finally, severe burns produce scars and contractures that disfigure and disable you.

How much is my burn claim worth? The settlement you can pursue for your burn injury depends on many considerations. These factors can make the difference between a settlement for a few thousand dollars and a million-dollar payout. Aspects that affect burn injury settlements include the following:

The severity of the burn is a major factor in estimating the value of an injury claim. Burns are categorized into three degrees of severity:

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are the least severe. They only damage the outer layer of skin called the epidermis. This layer seals the body from microorganisms and foreign objects. It also retains moisture. First-degree burns cause pain, swelling, and redness. They might cause the skin to flake, but they typically heal without complication.

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Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are more severe. They damage the epidermis and the layer underneath it called the dermis. The dermis contains the nerve endings. As a result, second-degree burns are more painful. The skin may blister, and you may develop an infection when those blisters burst. Although second-degree burns typically heal without complications, they may occasionally scar.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, destroy the epidermis and dermis. With the nerve endings destroyed, you experience no pain or touch sensation in the burned area. The skin may appear gray and charred. Doctors may treat the burns with skin grafts, an expensive but effective treatment to prevent infection and dehydration.

Burns of greater severity produce greater health effects and require more drastic medical care. As a result, your compensation will increase with burn severity.

Cause of the Burn

The cause of the burn is relevant for two reasons. First, some types of burns can cause other health problems. For example, chemical or combustion burns can cause lung damage from the fumes or smoke. The current that causes electrical burns can also damage the heart and nervous system.

Since certain burns cause additional health issues, you may be able to secure larger settlements. Thus, chemical burn lawsuit settlements may be larger than a settlement for a simple thermal burn from a broken space heater.

Second, some at-fault parties have greater resources than others. For example, the compensation available for burn injuries from a car accident might be limited by the at-fault driver’s auto policy limits. On the other hand, a burn from a defective product might result in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the product’s manufacturer.

One situation where the cause could have a radical effect on the settlement amount is a workplace burn injury. Most workers are covered by workers’ compensation, which limits an injured employee’s compensation to medical treatment and partial wage replacement.

On the other hand, if the employee’s injury resulted from the conduct of anyone besides their employer, the worker may be able to sue for their losses. An example of skin burn at work claims payouts could cover everything not covered by workers’ comp, such as full wage losses, diminished future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

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Effects of the Injury

First and second-degree burns can heal, leaving behind little or no trace. Third-degree burns, on the other hand, damage the skin so severely that they require skin grafts. However, skin grafts increase the risk of permanent scars.

When burns reach below the skin to the connective tissues and muscles, you can suffer even more serious injuries. Scar tissue causes soft tissues to shrink and tighten. The resulting contractures can restrict flexibility, causing the burned areas to deform permanently.

When a burn leaves the victim with permanent injuries, they can pursue greater injury compensation. An accident victim’s injury compensation can include their economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include medical costs and lost income. Burn injuries may require multiple surgeries and ongoing physical therapy. They may also disable you from earning a living, forcing you to quit working or change jobs.

Non-economic losses include the diminishment in your quality of life due to your injuries. Disfigurement from severe scars causes social anxiety and can alter how you view yourself. Disability from contractures deprives you of the self-esteem you get from living independently. Pain and mental anguish cause sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety.

Learn About Burn Injury Claims With ConsumerShield

Burn injuries can cause intense pain and require extensive medical treatment. Worse yet, they can cause permanent disabilities and disfigurement. ConsumerShield helps burn injury victims understand their legal rights.

More importantly, we can connect you with a lawyer who can analyze the specifics of your case and represent you in your pursuit of compensation. Fill out our contact form for a free case evaluation and to learn how we can assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, you can sue for first-degree burns. However, you will probably recover less compensation for a first-degree burn than for more severe burns.

  • Second-degree burns typically heal without any scarring. Thus, the primary factor in determining the settlement will be the size of the area burned. Larger burns will require more treatment and cause more severe pain and disabilities. Your settlement will include your medical bills and income losses.

  • There is no standard for the amount you will receive. However, the factors that will influence the settlement include:

    • Burn severity
    • Burn size
    • Level of disability
    • Severity of disfigurement

    These factors only justify small settlements for small, minor burns and large settlements for severe, large burns.

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