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Burn Injury Compensation in 2024: Factors Affecting Your Case

The compensation for a burn injury can vary significantly based on several factors, including the severity of the burn, the extent of medical treatment required, the impact on the victim’s life and livelihood, and the circumstances surrounding the injury. It’s essential to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to evaluate the specific details of the burn injury case and determine the appropriate compensation amount.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Burn Injury Settlement Amounts

According to M&Z, a burn can be one of the most painful types of injuries. Burns are generally classified into 4 degrees of severity, with 4th-degree being the most severe. The burn’s severity directly correlates to the expected compensation payout the victim receives either by out-of-court settlement or at trial [1].

When determining compensation, it’s crucial to consider not only the severity of the burn but also its size. For instance, a second-degree burn covering 30% of the body may warrant a higher settlement than a third-degree burn covering only 5%.

  • First-degree burns, the least severe category, typically involve damage limited to the skin’s outer layer. These burns, akin to sunburns, usually heal completely, with an average settlement of under $10,000.
  • Second-degree burns, extending into the deeper dermis layer, may result in bright red, swollen skin with blisters. Settlements for these burns, depending on severity, can range from $25,000 to $75,000, with approximately 90% of payouts falling within this range.
  • Third-degree burns, where both skin layers are entirely damaged, often lead to black, brown, or yellow skin and destroyed nerve endings. Settlements for third-degree burns may vary significantly, from $100,000 to millions of dollars, based on recovery outcomes.
  • Fourth-degree burns, the most severe, penetrate beyond the skin layers into subcutaneous tissue, muscles, and even bones. These catastrophic injuries, often life-threatening and requiring immediate amputation, can result in settlements running into the millions if liability is established.

Navigating burn injury claims can be complex and emotionally challenging. Seeking legal guidance from experienced burn injury attorneys is crucial to ensure fair compensation for victims and their families.

Do Burn Victims Get Disability Benefits?

According to Disability Help Group, qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a daunting task, especially for burn victims. The application process is complex and requires extensive medical documentation to support your claim [2].

Burn victims must establish the nature of their injuries and how they limit everyday body function. Without proper evidence, your Disability application may end up in the rejection pile along with 70 percent of all the other applications the SSA receives. Talking to a Disability lawyer with severe burns experience can make the process easier and improve your chances of receiving Disability benefits for severe burns.

The SSA evaluates your medical eligibility for SSDI based on two listings in their Blue Book of qualifying disorders. You must meet the requirements for injuries being treated through surgery or those that are not:

  • Surgical Burn Management Injuries: If you have extensive burns requiring surgical intervention to restore or repair body function, you must provide evidence indicating that your doctor expects the healing process to exceed one year. This evidence may include medical records and statements from your doctor. If approved for SSDI, your case will be reassessed once your body function returns.
  • Untreated Burn Injuries: Burns that are not surgically managed may still qualify for Disability benefits if they result in debilitating skin lesions or reduced body function expected to persist for more than 12 months. The SSA requires comprehensive medical documentation detailing the severity and frequency of your symptoms, the limitations they impose, and any side effects from treatments.

What Long-Term Problems Do Burn Victims Have?

Burn injuries are not to be taken lightly, especially when they penetrate multiple layers of the skin and underlying tissues. While many individuals recover from minor to moderate burns within a few days or weeks, severe burns can have long-lasting effects, potentially impacting someone for months, years, or even a lifetime. The aftermath of a severe burn injury is so significant that some experts argue it should be classified as a chronic disease.

In a groundbreaking 2019 study published in Burns & Trauma, researchers sought to redefine our understanding of burn injuries:

Population studies have linked burn injury with increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, nervous system disorders, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, gastrointestinal disease, infections, anxiety, and depression.

The wide range of secondary pathologies indicates that burn can cause sustained disruption of homeostasis, presenting new challenges for post-burn care. Understanding burn injury as a chronic disease will improve patient care, providing evidence for better long-term support and monitoring of patients.

The study underscores the persistent public health significance of burn injuries, with an estimated 11 million new cases occurring globally each year, resulting in over 300,000 fatalities.

Burn Statistics and Treatment in the United States

  • Burn Injuries Receiving Medical Treatment: 398,000 – Source: CDC, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2021 (accessed January 2024)
  • Fire/Smoke Inhalation Deaths: 3,800
  • Of the total 3,800 fire/smoke inhalation deaths, 3,010 are due to structure fire, and 680 are due to motor vehicle fire. This equates to one fire-related death every 2 hours and 17 minutes. – Source: National Fire Protection Association, Fire loss in the US trend tables 2021 (accessed January 2024)
  • National Hospital Burn Admissions Per Year: 29,165
  • According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) National Inpatient Sample (NIS), the 29,165 burn admissions per year (weighted estimates) represent 88.5 admissions per million lives per year.
  • There were 795 inpatient deaths (overall mortality 2.7%) and, of those admissions, 15,280 (52.4%) were for minor injuries not requiring surgical treatment with an inpatient mortality of 0.36%.
  • Extensive burns requiring surgical treatment and prolonged mechanical ventilation accounted for 1,290 (4.4%) of all admissions with an inpatient mortality of 17.8%. Deep burns requiring surgical treatment without prolonged ventilation were 9,340 (32%) of all admissions and had an inpatient mortality of 2.6%.
  • Burn centers are not labeled in the NIS; however, 94 hospitals admit at least 100 burn encounters per year. These facilities were responsible for 81% of all burn admissions and had a median burn admission/year of 203 (interquartile range 140, 305).
  • Burn admissions were most common May-August with 37.5% of all admissions occurring in this period (i.e. 37.5% of admissions during 33.3% of the year). US Census Area 5 (South Atlantic) had the most admissions (26.0%) while US Census Area 1 (New England) had the fewest admissions (3.0%).
  • In terms of demographics, of all burn admissions in the US, 33.3% were female, 57.1% were White non-Hispanic, 19.6% were Black non-Hispanic, 14.5% were Hispanic of any race, 2.6% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.8% were Native American.
  • For primary payors, 20.1% had Medicare, 33.3% had Medicaid, 26.6% had private/commercial insurance, and 10.2% were uninsured/self-payer.
  • Age had a multimodal distribution. For those under 18, the median age of injury was 3 years with an interquartile range of 1 to 8. For adults, the median age of injury was 49 years with an interquartile range of 33 to 62.
  • Source: 2020 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)/National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data (accessed January 2024; all figures are weighted for national estimates; includes both burn centers and non-burn centers)

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If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

References:

1. https://www.millerandzois.com/practice-areas/burn-injury-lawsuit/
2. https://disabilityhelpgroup.org/disability-severe-burns-social-security-benefits-qualifications

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