When most people think of burn injuries, they picture a scenario that brings them too close to fire or another source of heat. Chemical burns can also cause extensive physical damage and can be just as painful as being burned by fire. If you encounter a chemical burn, understanding your rights can help you know when to seek legal services from an attorney with experience with burn injury lawsuits.
Table of Contents
What is a chemical burn?
Chemical burns, also called caustic burns, occur when your skin or eyes come in contact with a corrosive substance. Many chemical burns are considered first-degree burns; they’re superficial and only affect the outermost layers of skin.
Second-degree chemical burns extend into the underlying dermal layer of skin and usually create blisters and swelling. Third-degree chemical burns extend all the way through the skin and into the tissues beneath, often causing nerve damage.
Chemical burns are medical emergencies and should always be treated by a health professional. It’s important to understand that more severe burns may not cause significant pain because of damaged nerves.
What are the causes of chemical burn injuries?
Some minor chemical burns are caused by exposure to household chemicals used in cleaning, lawn care, and personal care. Most serious chemical burns, however, occur outside of the household.
That’s because product manufacturers spend considerable time and effort to ensure that their products do not cause harm to consumers and that all obligations to disclose dangerous chemicals and warn against exposure have been met. This isn’t to say that it’s not possible to experience a chemical burn in your home, it’s just unlikely.
Many workers are routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals, and burns can occur in numerous circumstances. If you’re injured by a chemical burn while on the job, your first step is to file a workers’ compensation claim. This notifies your employer that you’ve been injured and ensures you meet all the requirements to seek a workers’ compensation benefit.
Faulty products are also a common cause of chemical burns. Chemicals are often used in manufacturing, but the companies who create those products have an obligation to protect the customer and anyone else exposed to the product. Chemical burns can occur when there is a defect in design, defects in manufacturing, or insufficient warnings about the risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals.
Even something as simple as a leaking phone case can cause serious chemical burn injuries, as evidenced by a 2017 lawsuit that sought compensation for more than two dozen people were harmed by an iPhone case filled with a glittery fluid that leaked onto skin.
If you experience a chemical burn while outside of the home, your circumstances may fall under the umbrella of premises liability. These situations occur when a property owner or business owner fails to take the proper precautions to keep visitors safe from harm. Cases can be as simple as failure to put out proper signage to issues where chemicals were used or stored improperly.
If you’re injured by a chemical burn, never assume that your own actions are the only things that led up to the injury. You may have a right to recourse even if you share some degree of responsibility for the series of events that led up to a chemical burn. Meeting with an attorney is the best way to fully understand your rights. Even if it turns out that you are not a good candidate for legal action, you’ll move on knowing you did everything you could to determine your rights under the law.
Can I sue for chemical burn injuries?
If the chemical burn occurred due to the actions or choices of another individual or entity, you may be entitled to seek legal recourse. That said, suing for chemical burns is not always an easy or straightforward process.
Most companies carry insurance coverage to protect against these types of lawsuits, and the attorneys working for the insurance company will work hard to reduce their client’s liability. Filing a lawsuit for a chemical burn also requires careful adherence to local filing rules, as well as knowledgeable drafting of all paperwork related to the case.
Most chemical burn lawsuits are settled outside of a court of law. Negotiating these cases is challenging and focuses on the degree of injury caused by the chemical burn, the actions that led to the injury, and the degree of pain, suffering, and long-term harm brought on by the burn.
When should I contact a chemical burn attorney?
If you or a loved one experiences a chemical burn, the most important step is to get the medical care you need to stay healthy. Once your burn is treated you should turn your attention to your legal rights. While not every chemical burn is suitable for legal action, many fall under the categories of workers’ compensation, premises liability, and faulty products.
The first step in seeking legal recourse is to sit down with an attorney to discuss the details of your circumstances. Be sure to bring any documentation you have about the chemical burn injury, including medical records and an overview of time lost at work.
Finding an attorney with experience with burn injury lawsuits can make a world of difference in how your case is eventually resolved. With the right legal team in your corner you can rest assured that you’ll receive everything you are entitled to under the law.