Detroit Burn Injury Lawyers
The American Burn Association estimates that nearly 500,000 people each year suffer burn injuries that require medical treatment. Fires, chemicals, or electricity can cause burn injuries that are painful and cause permanent damage. Burns can lead to disfigurement, impaired mobility, scarring, and many other difficulties.
If you or someone you love has suffered burn injuries due to someone’s negligence, contact Sommers Schwartz today. Our experienced Detroit burn injury lawyers will help you understand your legal rights and take steps toward recovery.
What Michigan Laws Protect Burn Injury Victims?
Michigan law recognizes that while some burn injuries are intentional, most are not. However, many result from negligence or a failure to take due care to prevent foreseeable harm.
The essential elements of any negligence case in Michigan are:
- One party (the defendant) had a duty to use reasonable care.
- The defendant breached that duty or failed to meet it.
- The breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Those injuries can be compensated in court, usually by monetary damages.
Some types of negligence cases, including premises liability, product liability, and medical malpractice, require an injured person to prove additional facts. Your lawyer can explain the law that applies to your situation, but the following summary covers the basics of these cases.
Personal Injury and Premises Liability Detroit Cases
Michigan’s personal injury and premises liability case law applies to many situations where a person or company’s negligence leads to burn injuries. Some examples include:
- A car accident in which a vehicle catches fire or overheats.
- Improperly-installed wiring or appliances that electrocute a user, causing electrical burns or starting a fire.
- Poorly-designed or faulty batteries that overheat, especially in small electronic devices like phones and gaming systems.
Personal injury laws hold every person responsible for using due care when interacting with each other and the surrounding environment. People or companies that fail to use due care, resulting in injuries to others, may be liable for the harm they cause.
Premises liability law extends the responsibilities of personal injury law to property. Owners have a duty to keep their premises safe for those they invite or permit to enter. Commercial property owners and managers must inspect, repair, and maintain their premises to protect employees and customers. Private property owners have a lesser degree of responsibility but must warn visitors of known dangers.
If a property owner can’t fix or prevent a hazardous condition, they must notify visitors of the hazard. For example, if a person visiting a restaurant suffers burns from touching a hot pipe that was not marked or protected, the restaurant may be liable for failing to warn its customers about the hot pipe.
Manufacturers and designers of commercial products have a legal duty to make reasonably safe products. They may be liable for injuries caused by poorly designed or defective products or component parts (such as batteries or motors).
Some products pose a risk of burns, no matter how carefully they are made or designed. For example, curling irons, toaster ovens, and hot plates must get very hot to work effectively. For these products, manufacturers and designers have a duty to include warnings about potential risks, including burns and fire risks. Missing or inadequate warnings may constitute a failure to meet this duty of care.
A producer’s duty of care applies to a product’s intended use and reasonably predictable uses. For example, it’s reasonable to expect a consumer to hang clothing on an exercise bicycle when it’s not in use. If doing this creates a fire risk, the producer should change the design or ensure ample warning to prevent this behavior.
Medical providers are responsible for treating patients according to the “standard of care.” This guideline requires each individual and facility to act as competent and reasonable as a similarly situated professional (someone with similar training, resources, and circumstances). When a doctor, hospital staff, or other provider fails to meet the standard of care, they may be liable for any injuries that result.
Carelessness when using some surgical tools can cause thermal or electrical burns to the inside or outside of a patient’s body. Some medications and other substances can produce chemical burns if they are mishandled. A patient who suffers burn injuries because of a medical professional’s negligence may be able to recover in a lawsuit for medical malpractice.
Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Injuries
A May 2021 study revealed that Michigan workers suffered 1,865 burn-related injuries in 2018. Approximately 75 percent of these injuries were caused by heat, while about 21 percent were caused by chemical exposure. Not surprisingly, workers in food service jobs were most likely to suffer burns, but workers in many other industries were also affected.
Workers’ compensation protects Michigan employees injured on the job, compensating them for lost wages and medical expenses. While injured workers generally can’t sue their employers, they may be able to bring a claim against a third party. For example, someone burned in an explosion caused by a defective machine may be able to sue the equipment manufacturer.
What Happens in a Detroit Burn Injury Lawsuit?
The first step in any burn injury case is to find an attorney with experience representing people with severe burn injuries. These cases can involve significant damage claims, so hiring someone who knows the ropes is essential. A lawyer will evaluate the facts of your case and explain whether filing a lawsuit is an option. If so, your lawyer will help you start the process.
A lawsuit begins by filing a complaint in a civil court. The complaint names the parties you believe to be responsible for your injuries (the “defendants”), lists the facts of the occurrence from your perspective, and asks the court to grant relief (typically by awarding monetary compensation to you). A copy of this complaint is served on the listed defendant or defendants, who have a limited amount of time to file a response with the court.
Usually, the next step is a phase called “discovery.” During this period, both sides collect information and narrow down the issues in the case. You may be asked to answer written questions called interrogatories, provide specific paperwork, sign release forms to allow others to obtain medical records, or give a sworn interview (called a “deposition”).
The discovery phase can last for months or even years; your case will be scheduled for trial once it is finished. Along the way, there may be a few hearings to resolve legal issues and update the court on the case’s progress; you may or may not be asked to attend these hearings.
Many burn injury cases are resolved without going to trial. During and at the end of discovery, your lawyer may try to negotiate a settlement. You can accept or reject any settlement offers that are proposed. Your lawyer may also suggest you participate in mediation, which can help the parties negotiate a settlement and resolve your case without the expense and stress of a trial.
If your case does go to trial, your lawyer will carefully prepare you and any other witnesses to testify. They may recommend you retain expert witnesses or other trial professionals (such as jury consultants or technical coordinators). They will present evidence and argue your case before a judge or jury. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the judge or jury will decide whether to award you damages and, if so, in what amount.
How Can I Find a Detroit Burn Injury Attorney I Trust?
For many people, suffering a serious injury is the first reason they have had to consider hiring a lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations. When you meet with an attorney for a case evaluation, take the following steps:
- Ask questions. Write down your questions if it helps you remember them. Listen to how the lawyer responds to each question. Look for a lawyer who explains things in a way that makes sense to you.
- Take notes. The lawyer may give you one or more options for pursuing your claim. Many people find it helpful to write these down. Ask any follow-up questions you think of as you take notes. Ask the lawyer who you should contact if you have questions later, and write down this information.
- Trust your instincts. You may already know some people you “click” with – and some you don’t. A lawyer who explains things in a way you understand, who is patient with your questions, and leaves you with a sense of trust is likely a better fit than one who confuses you, cuts off your questions, and leaves you feeling cold.
- Don’t hesitate to ask about payment. Many Michigan burn injury lawyers work on contingency, which means they only get paid if they recover compensation for you. When you know exactly how your attorney will be paid, you can make better plans and focus on the case rather than the bill.
Once you retain an attorney, you will work together to build your case. Choose a lawyer you can talk to and who listens to you. Your attorney is your partner on the journey to a brighter future, so choose an experienced lawyer you like and trust.
What Should I Do After a Burn Injury?
When a burn injury occurs, seek medical attention immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or take the injured person to the nearest emergency room.
If a burn injury happens at work, notify your supervisor as soon as possible. This notice starts the workers’ compensation process so you can receive medical care and compensation from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.
After a burn victim receives emergency medical attention, completing the recommended course of medical care is essential. Follow your doctor’s instructions about caring for your injuries and using medications. Go to your follow-up appointments. Each appointment creates a medical record and helps to paint a clearer picture of what happened and how it affects your day-to-day life.
Contact Sommers Schwartz, P.C., Today
After a burn injury, you should talk to an experienced burn injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will help you understand Michigan law that applies to your situation and help you find the resources you need during your recovery. They can also explain your options so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
At Sommers Schwartz, our Detroit burn injury lawyers have extensive experience representing individuals harmed by the negligence of others. We’ll help you understand your legal options and support you as you choose the next step for yourself and your loved ones. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.