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Making a Burn Injury Claim
The danger of burn injuries
Amongst the most serious types of injury a person can sustain are burns which, although they might be as ‘trivial’ as a small scald, can also be extremely painful and dangerous and can, in the worst cases, affect the rest of the victims’ life or even kill.
According to the BMJ, approximately 175,000 people per year have to visit Accident and Emergency departments suffering with burns. Of these, some 10% might require treatment in a specialist unit.
Burns caused due to negligence
If you’ve been burned in an accident which was your own or nobody’s fault then there’s not a lot you can do other than resolve to be more careful in the future, but if the burn injuries you or someone close to you has suffered was caused by the negligence of another party then you’ve every right to think about making a claim for compensation.
The NHS, for example, reports that 37,000 children per year are injured through being burned or scalded, with 28,000 (76%) being under the age of five. In cases such as this, the burns may require skin grafting and scar therapy lasting for many years.
Claiming compensation for a burn injury
If you or your child have been badly burned, and you feel it was caused by the negligence of another party then you should contact our personal injury solicitors with the details of your case. Whether it happened in a restaurant, your workplace or a supermarket, someone has been neglectful in a manner which has resulted in you suffering.
Our lawyers, working on a no win no fee basis, will take all of your details, noting when and where the accident happened, what medical attention you have received, any expenses which have arisen as a result of the burn (i.e. medical bills) and the mental anguish the situation has caused you. All of these factors will be used to decide whether you’ve been a victim of negligence and exactly how much compensation you are entitled to.
Claiming on behalf of a child
Given the number of children, particularly those under the age of 5, who suffer burn injuries every year, there’s every chance that any claim for compensation may actually be made by a parent, or other guardian, on behalf of a child. The process of such a claim – establishing that an injury has taken place and that it was caused by the negligence of another party – will be broadly similar, with the main difference being that a child, under the auspices of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is deemed to ‘lack the capacity’ to pursue their own claim, and so can be represented legally by a ‘litigation friend’.
The other main difference when making a claim for a child is a variation in the time limit before a claim can be launched. In the majority of personal injury cases, the claimant has a period of three years following the accident in question after which they will not be allowed to start a claim. When a child is involved, this period extends from the date of the accident until the child is aged 18, at which point the three year time limit begins.
Responsibility for burn injuries
If your child is injured whilst in the care of another person or body – such as a nursery or school – then the claim will be made against the organisation involved. The Children Act 1989 states that individuals charged with caring for children have a legal duty to act in the manner of a ‘responsible parent’ – also known as ‘in loco parentis’ – and this, allied with the rules of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 clearly outlines the duty of care which anyone looking after your child is legally expected to display. If they fail to do so, then you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Burn injury at work
If you suffer burns whilst at work then you may be in a position to make a claim against your employer. Under the aforementioned Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as well as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a duty to ensure that all workers are able to carry out their jobs in a safe environment, and that includes keeping them as safe as possible from the risk of burns, whether they are caused by fire, hot water, dangerous chemicals, electricity, or anything else.
The law states that an employer must inform the Health and Safety Executive of any burn or scald which:
- Covers more than 10% of the whole body’s total surface area.
- Causes significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs.
A calculation of the percentage of the body surface area affected by burns is usually reached by adding together the different parts of the body affected. Each area of the body contributes the following percentages:
- the skin on the head and neck: 9%
- the skin on each upper limb: 9%
- the skin on the front of the torso: 18%
- the skin on the rear of the torso: 18%
- the skin on each lower limb: 18%
The seriousness of burn injuries is reflected in the fact that those which cover more than 15% of an adult’s body usually require hospitalisation and the provision of intravenous fluids.
Fireworks and public displays
Organising a firework display or public bonfire is something which requires firm adherence to rules laid down by health and safety legislation. There are strict rules surrounding the provision, storage and use of fireworks, and these include the fact that fireworks (including sparklers) can only be purchased for private use on the following dates:
- 15th October to 10th November.
- 26th to 31st December.
- Three days prior to Diwali and Chinese New Year.
Outside of these dates, fireworks can only be purchased from licensed shops.
Where organised public displays are concerned, the Health and Safety Executive issues detailed advice on topics such as selecting the correct site, storing the fireworks safely and creating distinct firing, fallout and safety zones surrounding the display. Other pieces of advice offered by the HSE include:
- Provide sufficient stewards to marshal the crowd and dress them in easily identifiable clothing such as fluorescent jackets.
- Ensure the stewards constantly monitor for emergencies.
- Keep spectators away from areas such as the firing and fallout zones.
- Control numbers to avoid overcrowding.
- Do not allow spectators to bring their own fireworks.
- Do not sell fireworks at the site.
- Start on time to avoid crowd problems, and inform spectators of any delays.
If the organisers of a firework display which you attend fail to comply with the health and safety advice given then they may well have behaved in a negligent manner. If this resulted in you (or members of your family) sustaining burns, then a personal injury lawyer will examine the particulars of your case and advise as to whether you have the grounds to pursue compensation.
Starting a burn injury compensation claim
No amount of money will be able to make up for your pain, or for seeing your child suffer, but it will help the process of recovery by establishing that you’ve been badly treated, and it will ensure that your physical pain isn’t further compounded by financial problems either now or going forward into the future. The sooner you think about making such a claim the better, since having the details fresh in your mind will make your lawyer’s job a little bit easier, which will, in turn, make it more likely that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.