Noted burn attorney Fred Pritzker answers questions about burn injury lawsuits stemming from fires and explosions.
Q: What are the most common types of burn injuries you encounter?
A: Well, burns can be grouped into four categories: thermal, chemical, electrical and radiological and we have represented clients who have suffered all of them. Thermal burns – the kind that are caused by intense heat, contact with a flame, scalds from hot liquids, and contact burns from hot metals, plastics, etc. are probably the most common burn injuries we see with fires. With explosions, it’s usually thermal and chemical.
Q: What are the most common causes?
A: We see a lot of burns and other injuries in our natural gas and propane explosion cases. Sometimes residential gas lines are accidentally cut by a construction or maintenance crew and the home explodes. Household appliances powered by these gasses – ranges, stoves, clothes dryers, generators, water heaters, central heating and cooling systems, can explode due to faulty manufacturing or installation, improper venting, leaking lines, valves and hoses; or other conditions. And faulty lines and valves on residential propane storage tanks, and the smaller tanks used for outdoor grills or fire pits, can cause the tanks themselves to explode. So can filling the tank improperly.
We get a lot of calls about burns from vaping explosions – burns and facial fractures and broken teeth from exploding Lithium-ion batteries in vaping pens.
With structure fires, it’s sometimes a defective product or poor workmanship.
Q: Does experience matter when looking for a burn attorney?
A: As a burn attorney with a lot of experience, I would have to say yes. Most people are never going to experience the horrific pain that a burn victim suffers. The courage I have seen in our clients is inspiring. Some spend weeks or months in the hospital enduring multiple operations to close wounds, fighting off infections and other complications. It’s not an easy road. So if a burn injury happens, and it’s due to the negligence of another person or company, it’s good to have someone on your side who knows how to help – someone who will find answers and seek justice while you and your family focus on your recovery.
Q: What are common complications?
A: The greatest risk for these patients is infection. When your immune system overreacts to the infection, it can trigger widespread inflammation (sepsis) and blood clotting in tiny vessels throughout the body. This inflammation and clotting can cause multi-organ dysfunction. Kidney failure is a major, often fatal, complication for burn victims, particularly those with thermal and electrical burns.
Q: What kind of compensation is involved with these lawsuits?
A: Compensation usually includes medical expenses, loss of earnings, disability, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. As we just discussed, the pain and suffering with these cases is unfathomable, so the compensation for pain and suffering is often quite high. In cases where the breach of duty was egregious or where there was intentional wrong done, punitive damages may apply.
Fred Pritzker is a trial attorney with 40 years of experience. He is founder and president of Pritzker Hageman P.A., which represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
To contact him for a free consultation, call 1-888-377-8900 (toll-free) or submit our free consultation form.