If you’re reading this, you may have had your life turned upside down by a burn caused by another person’s negligence. You may be in a lot of pain. You’ve probably had to miss work, causing you to worry about finances. You’re also probably feeling a lot of stress from trying to find the right person to help you with a burn injury claim.
We are here to help. Our firm offers free legal advice. Call our Texas burn injury lawyers today.
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This page will teach you some of the basics about your burn injury claim. We’ll start with the most common mistakes people make in their burn injury cases in Texas. Then we’ll use a story to give you an overview of many elements of your burn injury claim. Be sure to read to the end.
Common Burn Injury Claim Mistakes
It’s unfortunate that there are numerous mistakes people commonly make that damage or slow down their claim.
Not Getting Medical Attention After a Burn Injury
It’s not uncommon after a burn injury for a person to not realize how serious a burn injury is because their body is full of stress hormones. This can raise the pain threshold enough for them to not feel the extent of their burns. Add to that the potential for temporary or permanent nerve damage that can again hamper registering pain, and it’s understandable how someone could skip the doctor’s visit.
Getting an exam is not only crucial to protecting your health, but also important to protecting the value of your burn injury claim. Without the record of how you were injured and when, you will lack important evidence to support your claim. Don’t give the insurance company the opening to try and lower your claim’s value, or even get it dismissed by failing to go to a doctor after you are injured.
Failing to Follow Your Doctor’s Aftercare Instructions
When you leave your medical exam, the doctor will send you home with a treatment plan for the continued care of your injuries. It will list things you need to do to keep your recovery on track. This may involve a course of antibiotics or other medication, or some form of physical or occupational therapy. There are many forms a doctor’s treatment care plan can take.
Being diligent about following your aftercare plan helps you stay on track for your recovery and it, again, prevents the insurance company from trying to blame any of your injuries on you.
Protect your health and the value of your claim by adhering to your doctor’s treatment plan.
Giving the Insurance Provider a Recorded Statement
Not long after your burn injury, you can be sure the insurance provider for the liable party is going to call you looking for a recorded statement. They will probably make it sound as though this is necessary to process your claim and keep things moving.
It’s important not to give them this statement.
What they are actually looking for is something, anything that you tell them that can be twisted around to put some of the blame for your injury back on you. The purpose for such a move is to lower the value of your claim.
Don’t let an insurance adjuster intimidate you. Despite how official and convincing the person sounds, you are not obligated to speak with them. In fact, this is a great assignment to hand off to your Texas burn injury lawyers.
Putting Off Calling a Lawyer
It’s not uncommon for people injured by burns to put “call a lawyer” at the bottom of their to-do list. So long as the statute of limitations in Texas is still open, they think they have time. They then get distracted by their recovery and getting back to work; before they know it, time has run out.
Waiting to call a lawyer is a mistake. Time can fly by without you realizing it, and evidence for your case won’t stick around indefinitely. What’s more, your attorney is going to need to do an accident investigation to support your claim, and the sooner they start, the more evidence they can gather.
This is also true with regard to witnesses. Even if you’re lucky enough to have witnesses, the longer you wait to get your claim off the ground, the more likely your witness is to forget the details of the incident or change their contact information.
Give your claim the strongest foundation possible by contacting a lawyer as soon as you are able.
Selecting the Wrong Attorney for Your Burn Injury Claim
It’s a common mistake for people to believe that all lawyers have the same qualifications. Like doctors, lawyers have specializations, and choosing a lawyer who has little or no experience with your type of case is likely to devastate your claim.
Just as you wouldn’t go to a knee surgeon to have your tonsils removed, you do not want to hire a divorce attorney to handle your burn injury claim. It’s important to hire a lawyer who focuses on personal injury claims and has experience in burn cases.
Taking it a step further, it’s also important to hire a trial lawyer. Not every case will go to trial. In fact, most are settled before they get that far. Having a skilled trial attorney will still help you in two ways.
The first and most obvious way hiring a trial attorney to handle your case will help you is if the insurance company does not want to negotiate a fair settlement and your case goes to trial.
The second way a trial lawyer benefits your claim is credibility. Insurance companies know who the great trial lawyers in the area are. Hiring one to handle your case may make the insurance company more willing to settle before your case reaches a courtroom.
Don’t make the mistake of selecting the wrong lawyer. You need an experienced personal injury trial lawyer who has successfully taken burn injury cases to court.
Texas Burn Injury Client Story
The following story is intended to familiarize you with some of the elements of your burn injury claim. Names and specifics have been changed to protect our clients’ privacy, but the value of the claim information remains. Make sure you read it to the end to get the most out of it. When you’re through, please take advantage of our offer of free legal advice to get the answers you need for your specific claim.
On a cold January night a few years ago, Gabriel and Sam Torca raced to the room they shared in an apartment complex in south Dallas. It was story time.
Nine-year-old Gabe arrived first, swiftly climbing the bunk bed ladder, landing on top in a belly flop of giggles. His 7-year-old brother dove onto his own bed, laughing and knocking several stuffed animals to the floor.
Their father, Alex, followed them into the room smiling and carrying their favorite dinosaur story. He plunked himself awkwardly into the orange beanbag chair in the corner and opened the book as Sam reached across the nightstand and flipped the switch on the lava lamp the boys used as a nightlight. They were startled by a loud pop from the outlet, followed by a burning smell.
“Ugh, Sammy! What’d you do?! You stink!” Gabe laughed pinching his nose. Sam laughed too and boys began to get loud.
“Okay guys, settle down,” Alex gently scolded as he got up and unplugged the lamp. The outlet had a dark smudge scorched on its face. It didn’t seem to be smoking now. He made a mental note to add it to the growing list of complaints he had with the apartment’s electrical.
Alex then turned the room’s overhead light on. It flickered before coming to life with a buzz as Alex made a brief search of the hallway closet. He returned with a free-standing battery-powered camping light.
“Cool!” Said the boys in unison, as Alex set it on the dresser.
“It will do for now,” Alex said, sitting down again. He opened the book and read their favorite story about a cat who thought he was a dog and his dinosaur adventures. The boys knew every word and never seemed to tire of it.
When Alex was finished the story, he peeked over the open book to see both boys were fast asleep. Clumsily getting out of the beanbag chair, he left the battery light glowing on the dresser and helped his wife Elena finish the dishes.
Just after three in the morning, Alex and Elena were woken up by loud coughing from the boys’ room. As Elena went down the hall to check on them, she saw smoke billowing from the doorway.
“Alex! Alex, fire!” she screamed, rushing into the room.
A thick rope of smoke streamed up the wall from the outlet under the window at the foot of the bed, rolling across the ceiling and extending downward as it grew. Both boys were coughing.
The dark mass of hot smoke at the ceiling was making its way down toward Gabe. Pulling his son over the guardrail of the bed was not an option.
Alex reached the bunkbed ladder as Elena scooped up Sam and ran from the room.
“Gabe, do NOT sit up. Lie FLAT. I’ve got you, I promise. I’m going to pull you toward me,” Alex said as calmly as he could. He pulled Gabe toward him by his feet through the opening to the bunk’s ladder as the outlet under the window finally ignited and fire raced up the curtains behind Alex.
Alex instinctively blocked Gabe from the heat with his body as he pulled the boy all the way down from the bed. He crouched over, carrying his son from the room and following Elena’s exit out the fire door at the end of the short hall outside their apartment.
Alex reached the grass and fell to his knees. He lowered Gabe to the ground as his friend David knocked him backward, rolling him on the grass. Alex looked up in confusion to find a dozen neighbors peering down at him in concern.
Elena wiped his hair back and tearfully told him he’d come out of the building with his shirt in flames. She turned him on his side, telling him to lie still until the paramedics arrived.
Elena and the boys were treated for smoke inhalation and released from the hospital the next day.
Alex spent the next 20 days in the hospital’s burn unit for second and third-degree burns on his back that amounted to 20% of his total body surface area.
Two weeks into Alex’s stay, when the boys were settled in at her sister’s apartment, Elena called us to schedule a consultation. She said she and Alex had three primary questions. They wanted to know what it would cost to hire us, what Alex’s case was worth, and how long his case would take.
We arrived at the hospital to speak with them the next day. Donning protective gowns, masks, caps and gloves, we entered the room to speak with the couple.
Alex greeted us with a smile, putting on a good front for his wife, though clearly experiencing some pain. As we took our seats, Elena, also wearing protective garb, took her husband’s hand. Her pretty smile couldn’t hide her worry.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire A Lawyer?
“Hey, before we get too far into this, I really need to know how much it would cost to hire you. As you can see, I’ve had to take a little time off,” Alex said with a half-smile.
We explained that since we work on a contingency basis, there would be no upfront cost.
“We take care of all of the expenses throughout the case. When it concludes, we only get paid when we get your case is resolved successfully.”
The couple was visibly relieved.
How Much Is My Burn Injury Case Worth?
Elena spoke up, tears welling in her eyes.
“You know, I keep thinking about it. The fire started inside the walls while we slept. And how come the fire alarms didn’t go off? The manager said they were hard-wired. It’s not right!” she sobbed, throwing her hands up, tears streaming now.
“How much do you think a case like mine could be worth if we file a claim?” Alex asked, squeezing his wife’s gloved hand.
We explained that it’s difficult to predict the value of a case right at the beginning. First, we would need to conduct a thorough investigation, gathering evidence and speaking to witnesses. We assured the couple we could begin right away, working up the case as if it were going to trial, but the second piece of the puzzle would depend on what Alex’s damages were.
“What we need you to do, Alex, is focus your energy on your recovery. We’ll need you to reach maximum medical improvement so that we can understand your damages clearly. This means you will need to get your health back to what your doctor would consider ‘normal’ for you.
“If getting back to ‘normal’ is not possible, we’ll need you to get to the best level of recovery you can, considering your injuries. Maximum medical improvement means you don’t need any more surgeries, and we have a reliable idea of what your future medical care will look like.
“Reaching this point will allow us to know your economic and non-economic damages. That’s when we’ll know the value of your case.
“Elena, you can help Alex in his recovery by making sure he sticks to his doctor’s treatment plans once he leaves the hospital. This will be very important for his wellbeing, and for the strength of his burn injury case.”
Alex and Elena nodded in agreement that this made sense.
How Long Will My Burn Injury Case Take?
“Does a case like this take a long time?” Alex asked.
We explained that determining the timeline of a case is also tough at the outset.
“The first determining factor will be how long it takes you to reach maximum medical improvement. Once you’re there, we’ll understand your damages and send a demand letter to the insurance company.
“From there, the case timeline will depend on how cooperative the insurance company is. If they are reasonable about providing fair compensation, your case will go smoothly. If not, we’ll need to take them to court.
“Don’t worry if it comes to that, because our lawyers have a long and successful track record bringing cases like yours to juries.
“The insurance company knows this, and that alone may make them more willing to negotiate. They are not likely to want us making your case in a courtroom and turning the decision on your award over to a jury.
“Either way, we’ll be ready. That’s why it’s always in your best interest to hire a personal injury trial lawyer who has successfully handled burn injury cases.”
The Torcas were satisfied with the answers they received in their consultation and retained us. We are happy to say that we got Alex more than eight times the amount he was originally offered by the insurance company.
Call our Texas Burn Injury Lawyers Today
We hope this story has answered some of your questions about your burn injury claim. We invite you to call us for a free legal consultation to talk about your specific case. You don’t have to figure out your burn injury claim alone. Call today to get started.