At press time, the massive Valley Fire was 70 percent contained, but not before scorching more than 75,000 acres and destroying hundreds of homes in Middleton and Hidden Valley Lake, California. While most residents followed evacuation orders and survived unharmed, it reminds me to remind you of the seriousness of burn injuries.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. A serious burn can prove life-threatening and life-altering. According to the American Burn Association, more than 3,000 die from fires or smoke inhalation each year. Nearly 500,000 people seek medical treatment for burns.
Minor burns can often be treated with basic first aid. Serious burn injuries can leave permanent scars, disfigurement, and disability.
Electricity, fire, hot liquids, chemicals, and radiation exposure are just a few burn injury causes. To protect yourself from the devastating effects of burn injuries, follow these safety and prevention tips:
• Install smoke alarms on every floor of the home and near bedrooms. Replace the batteries as needed.
• Develop an escape plan that includes safe exits from every room and a central meeting spot.
• Use the stove’s back burners and keep children away from the stove and oven.
• Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees or less.
• Because earthquakes often lead to house fires, keep an earthquake kit near the exit. Many residents opt for fireproof safes for passports and other important documents.
Aside from natural disasters, faulty wiring, chemical or gas explosions, and workplace accidents can lead to devastating burn injuries. In these cases, another party may be liable for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages.
If an individual acted with complete, reckless disregard for your safety, he or she may also be liable for punitive damages.
If you suffered a burn injury, especially a serious injury, consult with a personal injury lawyer pronto. Because of the serious lasting effects of these injuries, settlements can be sizable. Remember, a jury ultimately awarded 79-year-old Stella Liebeck $2.86 million in the famous “hot coffee” lawsuit against McDonald’s after McDonald’s refused to settle. Lieback suffered third-degree burns in her pelvic region when a cup of McDonald’s hot coffee accidentally spilled in her lap.
Burn injury cases are complex and can involve exorbitant medical expenses. A lawyer experienced in burn injuries can consult with experts and surgeons to ensure your case receives a just outcome.
(Photo courtesy of watch4u, Flickr)