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Making a Burn Injury Claim

How common are burn injuries?

Burns are among the most serious types of injury a person can suffer. They can be extremely painful and dangerous; and they can leave you with permanent scar damage and disfigurement, often requiring plastic surgery. Some burns victims suffer long-term medical problems and, in the worst cases, burns can prove fatal. According to NHS England data, some 130,000 people with burn injuries visit accident and emergency hospital departments each year, with around 10,000 being admitted.

Some burns and scalds victims recover relatively quickly, while others are reliant on other people for lengthy periods of time while they recover. It’s even more difficult for injured people to come to terms with their injuries when the burns happened because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness.

Life as you know it may be changing forever – you may no longer be able to enjoy your hobbies and interests because of the burn injuries. You may have lost your confidence and ability to enjoy life as you once did. You might also be facing long term medical treatment, surgery and rehabilitation as you work on your recovery.

It is only fair that you should be able to claim injury compensation to help you on the road to recovery. If you have suffered burn or scald injuries through no fault of your own, you have the right to claim compensation.

An experienced and sympathetic legal adviser will guide you through the first steps of making your burns injury claim. You can contact a legally-trained adviser now, for free on 0800 234 6438 or use our online claim form here.

DID YOU KNOW: Burn accidents cost the NHS £20 million per annum, according to statistics released for National Burn Awareness Day.

Can I claim for a burn injury?

It’s a harsh reality that burn accidents happen in all walks of life. There is a risk of suffering burns and scalds in the workplace and in the home; in restaurants and at firework displays; in airports and at leisure centres.

If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault, you have every right to make an injury claim for any burns and scalds you have suffered, and any other injuries. Your solicitor will need to be able to demonstrate that someone else (usually a business or public authority) had a legal duty to protect you from the risk of harm, that they breached this duty and you suffered burns as a direct result.

Bear in mind not every burn injury is the result of someone’s negligence or carelessness. For example, the government has revealed that out of 26,610 accidental dwelling fires from 2018 to 2019, more than a third were actually caused by misusing equipment or appliances.

But where you believe someone was at fault for your injuries, it is important to take specialist advice. For immediate help and guidance on starting your claim, get in touch with an adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 or submit your name and number on this page.

DID YOU KNOW: A company was fined £50,000 in October 2020 after a 42-year-old suffered serious burns to almost half his total skin area while using a pneumatic impact mole. He struck an 11,000 volt electric cable that was underground. Site rules were not being enforced at the time, despite the high-risk work being done.

Common causes of a burn injury

Unfortunately, the risk of a burns injury can arise in many diverse situations and places. Wherever there are hot objects, electricity and hot liquids there is the risk of burns and scalds.

The two most common places where burns happen are at home and, unsurprisingly, in the workplace. Other causes of burn injury, both in and outside of the home, include:

DID YOU KNOW: A woman whose scalp was burned by peroxide at her hairdressers received a payout of £17,000. The hairdresser was found to have not carried out the service with reasonable skill and care, causing the injury.

While some accidents and incidents are not preventable, the fact is that a vast number of them are. So if you have suffered burn injuries, whatever the cause, find out if you can bring a claim to ensure someone is held responsible for what has happened.

Even if you think you were partly to blame, don’t assume that you can’t make a claim. A legal adviser can talk you through the incident and your injuries and provide clear advice on your legal rights.

DID YOU KNOW: A nine-year-old boy in New York suffered severe burns after his Skechers light-up trainers malfunctioned. He was taking part in a water day at school but the water caused his trainers to leak battery acid, resulting in second-degree burns to his feet.

Can I claim for burn injuries at work?

If you suffer burns while at work, then you should be able to make a claim against your employer. There is a significant risk of burns and scalds in some workplaces, particularly if you work in a factory or warehouse setting. Even in other work environments, where there is electricity and/or chemicals – construction sites and labs, for example – there is a risk of burn injuries.

However, the law provides a lot of protection for UK workers: employers have strict legal responsibilities and obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure the workplace is safe, including minimising the risk of fire and related injuries. They must, for example, carry out regular ‘risk assessments’ and act on risks identified, whether that’s issuing adequate protective equipment or ensuring the safe use of equipment.

Examples of burn injuries in the workplace include:

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) takes burns injuries in the workplace seriously – serious burns and scalds are reportable incidents under RIDDOR. The law states that an employer must inform the HSE of any burn or scald which:

So, where you or a loved one have suffered burns at work it is wise to check if your employer has reported it formally. This will help you in your injury claim.

If you’ve suffered from a burn injury at work and it was your employer’s fault, you can claim injury compensation. Your claim will actually be against your employer’s insurer under its liability insurance rather than against the employer itself, so you need not worry that it will have a negative financial impact on your employer.

DID YOU KNOW: Between 2014/15 and 2020/21, 983 workers were reported to have suffered non-fatal burn injuries in the workplace. Two people were reported to have suffered fatal burn injuries.

What types of burn are there?

A burn is, to put it simply, a heat (or extreme cold) injury to the skin. If it is a serious burn, the damage can go deeper beyond the layers of the skin. Burns are usually caused by dry heat, whether that’s a hot iron or metal, burning plastic or even friction burns. More serious burns may result in white or charred skin and may be surprisingly painless.

Perhaps surprisingly, frostbite can also cause serious burns. Anyone working in refrigerated or freezing conditions is at risk of frostbite injuries or burn injuries from handling freezing objects or liquids.

Scalds are a type of burn injury but they are caused by hot liquid or steam rather than a dry heat. The surface damage of a burn or scald injury is typically red, painful skin that quickly blisters and eventually peels.

Chemical burns are caused by acids, alkalis or other chemicals and can cause severe burns without immediate medical treatment. It would not be unusual to need specialist care, such as skin grafts and physiotherapy if you have suffered a chemical burn.

DID YOU KNOW: Before anyone has any beauty treatment which involves dye or other harmful chemicals, the law requires that the customer has a patch test at least 48 hours beforehand.

Whatever the type of burn, it is vital that immediate medical attention is sought to minimise the long term damage done to the area of the burn.

The skin is the largest organ of the human body and its natural ability to heal itself is remarkable. But if you have suffered severe burn injuries, your recovery may not be as quick as you would hope for. You may, for instance, suffer internal or deep tissue damage as a direct result and you may suffer long term nerve damage.

Amputation, while rare, can also be a consequence of a serious burns injury. Some burns victims can be so severely burned that the best medical treatment is to amputate a limb (e.g. a finger or foot) because circulation to the area cannot be restored.

If you or a loved one has had to have a body part amputated following a serious burn incident, there will be extensive rehabilitation to go through – not to mention the additional psychological trauma.

A legal adviser will understand how difficult it is to come to terms with serious burn injuries and what it means for claimants. They can help you deal with the process of seeking injury compensation to help get back on your feet.

DID YOU KNOW: A handyman suffered extremely serious cement burns after he spent 3.5 hours kneeling in cement while helping to lay a floor. When he removed his trousers, he found the burns had reached the bone. His right leg had to be amputated.

What are the different levels of burn injuries?

Burn injuries are divided into four classifications to determine their seriousness. This is useful because it reflects the nature of our skin and its different layers – and the implications of burns for our bodies. The different types of burns are:

The potential impact of serious burns cannot be underestimated. The more serious the burn, the greater the risk of secondary infections as well as the lengthy time needed to heal.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious life-changing burns, you need to speak with sympathetic lawyers who understand exactly what you are going through and the extent of the medical treatment you may require. You may be looking at the prospect of skin grafts and other treatments to help you recover.

Thankfully, first degree burns can usually be treated using first aid measures, but you should still be able to claim compensation if it was someone else’s fault. Contact an expert legal adviser free on 0800 234 6438 to discuss your injuries and how they can guide you with your claim.

Can I still sue for first degree burns?

Yes, you may be able to but it could be more difficult to prove. The fact that a first-degree burn is minor does not mean it is not painful and distressing. Superficial injuries are injuries nonetheless, and it’s only right and fair that whoever caused it should pay a fair level of compensation in recognition of this. However, your solicitor would have to demonstrate that the other party (e.g. your employer, if it happened at work) breached their duty of care and that the burn happened as a direct result. You would also be expected to produce medical evidence that you required medical treatment of the burn, otherwise proving it could be difficult.

So, if your burn was the result of someone else’s negligence, you can make a claim – however mild the injury. But evidence will be needed. Your specialist solicitor will be able to talk these issues through with you

Making a claim for a burn injury – the process

If you’ve suffered burns or scalds and it wasn’t your fault, you’ve every right to make a claim for compensation. Whether it happened at work or in a restaurant, at home from using a defective product or in a supermarket, it’s important you get the compensation you deserve.

Money won’t wind the clock back but it will go a long way to help with your recovery as you get back to normal.

You can contact a trained and sympathetic legal adviser free on 0800 234 6438 with the details of your case, or fill out the online form if you prefer. There’s no obligation to carry on, but the sooner you think about making your burn injury claim the better as the details are fresh in your mind.

Bear in mind you have three years from the date of your accident to start your claim, otherwise, it may be time-barred.

Your personal injury lawyer will take your case on on a no win no fee basis, meaning that if you don’t win your case, you won’t have to pay out any money. When you speak to them, they may well ask for information to help with your case, such as where the accident happened, what medical attention you received, the suffering the situation has caused you and any witnesses to what happened.

If possible, keep a photographic record of your burn or scald injuries and a diary of your recovery. Your specialist solicitor will use all this information to build the best possible compensation case to ensure you get the maximum amount you deserve.

Injury solicitors will normally work on a no win no fee basis, meaning you don’t need to worry about expensive legal costs to start a claim.

What type of compensation could I claim for?

Like many injuries, burns and scalds can differ very much in severity which means that the full amount of compensation you receive will depend on the nature and extent of your burns. Some burns leave little scarring after a few months while some burn injuries are life-changing. In the more serious cases, there are a number of types of compensation you can claim:

General damages – This covers compensation for your actual injuries, pain and suffering. It will include an amount that accounts for the likelihood of, for example, extensive scarring and disfigurement and impact of that on your life, and other physical side effects of serious burns, such as impact on limb movement.
Psychological harm – Suffering severe scalds and burns can cause psychological suffering as well as physical suffering, particularly if the injury is somewhere visible. Facial scarring, for example, can completely change your self-confidence and zest for life. Once outgoing, you may have become very self-conscious – making you worried about going out and unable to enjoy an active social life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also a risk where a serious incident has resulted in significant burn injuries. Flashbacks and nightmares, distressing memories, stress and irritability can be a very real problem for burns victims, requiring counselling and other forms of therapeutic help to come to terms with what has happened.

Fortunately, the law recognises the reality of psychological harm as a direct result of personal injury. Your claim may be able to include the cost of private therapy to help you come to terms with what happened. If necessary, your solicitor will arrange for a specialist report from a psychologist or psychiatrist as evidence of your PTSD.

Special damages – In addition to general damages for pain and suffering, your solicitor will also be able to claim for your actual financial losses – past and future. These are called ‘special damages’ and covers items such as:

It is important to keep all receipts, invoices and payslips of losses to date to pass onto your solicitor in due course. These will be used to build your claim for special damages.

DID YOU KNOW: During the year 2020, 221 fire-related fatalities happened in the UK compared with 248 in 2019.
SOURCE: Home Office (PDF)

How much could my burn claim be worth?

Given that so many factors are in play when deciding how much a burn injury is worth in the UK, it’s very difficult to say so early on how much you’re likely to receive in general damages. Your solicitor will be able to discuss it with you in more detail once they have more information about your own injuries. As a rough guide, these are some useful estimates:

You can get an initial rough estimate of the amount of compensation you could claim for, by using our online compensation calculator.

DID YOU KNOW: A railway employee suffered third-degree and mixed depth burns in a fire at Godalming substation. An electrical arc and a fire happened in December 2018 while railway workers were working on a circuit breaker, but there had been a long-running water leak and conditions were unsafe. Network Rail pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches and was fined £696,000.

Can I make a claim for my child?

We know how heartbreaking it can be to see a child injured, and burns involving children can be particularly distressing. If your child has suffered a burn injury, you can make a compensation claim on their behalf, so get in touch with an expert solicitor as soon as possible.

If your child was injured while at nursery or school, or in the care of another person or organisation, the claim will be made against their insurance company under their liability insurance policy.

While you have plenty of time to start the claim (they have until the age of 21 to start a claim), it is important to get the ball rolling straight away while events – and medical information – are fresh in your mind, and the evidence of the injury is clear.

Can I claim for fireworks burns at a public display?

Burns sustained at public and private firework displays happen all too often. While public firework and bonfire events are great Autumn events as the nights draw in, the risks of injury are clear.

Sadly, children will often be the victims. In fact, more than 550 children under the age of 16 are taken to accident and emergency departments in the four weeks around bonfire night alone, according to the Children’s Burns Trust.

Not only that, but most of the injuries caused by fireworks are to the eyes, head or hands – the exposed parts of the body – with the risk that the victim will be scarred for life. A handheld sparkler, for example, can reach temperatures of 20 times the boiling point of water.

However, the law does not permit public firework displays to be a ‘free for all’ precisely because of the injury risk. Organisers of firework displays and public bonfires are required to follow firm rules laid out in health and safety legislation. The HSE advises that:

If the organisers of a firework display fail to follow the health and safety legislation and/or the advice given, and accident and injury results, then they are likely to have behaved negligently. There are also strict laws surrounding the provision, storage and use of fireworks. These include the fact that fireworks (including sparklers) can only be bought for private use on specific dates. Outside of those dates, fireworks can only be bought from licensed shops. If you, your child or other loved ones have been burned due to negligence involving fireworks or a public bonfire event, you may be able to make a compensation claim.

DID YOU KNOW: Nearly 2,000 people visited hospital A&E because of injuries linked to fireworks in 2018 to 19; and during the bonfire night and Diwali period, more than 35,000 people requested advice from the NHS.uk website on how to treat burns and scalds.
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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