Atlanta Burn Injury Lawyers
Compassionate representation for burn victims across Georgia
Burns are unlike any other physical trauma. Victims often require more surgeries, have the greatest and most prolonged pain, and suffer severe emotional damage. Scarring and disfigurement is almost always permanent, and affects more areas of the victims’ lives than one might realize. If your burns were the result of another’s negligence, or of a defective product, you are going to need skilled legal representation to help you fight for your future.
Harris Lowry Manton LLP has upheld the rights of burn injury victims in Atlanta, Savannah and throughout Georgia by providing comprehensive representation at every turn. We are a team of experienced trial attorneys, dedicated to ensuring your voice is heard.
Fast facts about fires in the U.S.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2016, 3,390 people died and 14,650 sustained injuries as a result of fires in 2016. (Numbers do not include firefighters.) House fires accounted for 81% of those deaths and injuries; vehicle fires accounted for 8%.
Of those home fires:
- Unattended cooking caused the most amount of fires
- Smoking is the leading risk of fire-related deaths
- Heating equipment, such space heaters and wood-burning stoves, were the root cause of 20% of all house fires
- Electrical distribution was the third-leading cause of fires
- Arson was the fourth-leading cause of fires
Different types of burn injuries
While fires are the most well-known type of burn injuries, there does not need to be a fire for a person to be burned. The different types of burn injuries include:
- Thermal burns. A thermal burn occurs when you touch something hot, like a stove top, or in direct contact with flames.
- Chemical burns. These occur when the skin comes in contact with a caustic substance. Industrial workers face a high risk of chemical burns, but common household cleaners can also cause serious injuries.
- Electrical burns. These are a result of an electrical shock, and often lead to burn injuries internally.
- Scalding. When your skin comes in contact with an extremely hot liquid, the water can cause severe burn injuries. Children have a high risk of being scalded.
- Radiation burns. High doses of radiation not only kill off cancer cells, but also healthy cells. It irritates the skin, and can leave you with open wounds. In some cases, the radiation can also cause burn damage to your internal organs.
Classifications of burn injuries
Burns are classified into four general categories: First-degree burns are the least serious, usually healing within a week. Second-degree burns create significantly more pain and damage, and may leave scarring. Their damage extends past the top layer of your skin, and often present with raw, red blisters. Third-degree burns are severe, removing several layers of skin. These burns look white or black (depending) and can lead to nerve damage. Fourth-degree burns are the most serious, and the most likely to lead to multiple skin grafts, potential amputations, or death. Severe burns come with a high risk of infection, hypothermia, low blood volume, and a host of other serious medical complications.
When should I call a lawyer about my burn injury?
In order to make a successful claim for compensation after a burn injury, you must be able to prove that your injuries were the result of negligence. Negligence could mean a coworker did not follow proper instructions, or a product had a defective part or failed in some way, or you received improper medical care. At HLM, we handle complex litigation arising from serious burn injury cases, such as:
- Vehicle fires. Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche all had recalls within the last year for potential fire risks. Our attorneys have faced off against automakers before, holding them accountable for their defective parts. We know what it takes to build a case.
- Space heaters. Georgia has had some bitterly cold days in the last decade. A faulty space heater or defective fire grate can cause a house fire, leading to burn injuries, smoke inhalation, and untold amount of property damage.
- Grills and BBQs. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of fires, but even the most attentive griller can sustain serious injuries if there is a problem with the grill or smoker.
- Flammable children’s items. Children’s clothing and toys are supposed to be non-flammable. If a defect led your child to sustain serious injuries, we want to help.
- Industrial fires. Industrial settings are inherently dangerous, with substantial risk for burn injuries. More often, a chain of failures on the part of owners, management, and third-parties lead to disaster. If you are ineligible to collect workers’ compensation, you may be able to file a third-party claim for your injuries and losses.
- Structure fires. Your insurance company’s main goal is to keep its money. If you or your loved one sustained injuries in a structure fire, we fight to ensure that your claim is paid out fairly and quickly. If the fire resulted from faulty wiring, or if your smoke alarm failed, we may be able to make additional claims for compensation.
Our knowledgeable Atlanta attorneys have successfully handled various types of burn injury cases. We provide victims with representation that is comprehensive, and we are dedicated to obtaining significant compensation for our clients.
Burn Injuries in the Home
Filing Lawsuits for Defective Household Products
Consumers have a right to expect that the products they buy for household use will be safe. Safe usage includes making goods that do not go up in flames, explode, or release excessive heat. Household products should not cause electrical burns, chemical burns, or any other type of scalding burns. The makers, distributors, and retailers of home products make millions of dollars from the sale of their goods. Consumer safety, however, should not be sacrificed for a business’ bottom line.
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our Atlanta burn injury attorneys are experienced product liability lawyers. We understand that the makers and sellers of the products Georgians buy are in the best position to design, make, and inspect their products. We hold businesses accountable for failing to fully test their goods before they are sold. This accountability is based on our success in settling and obtaining some of the highest product liability awards in the state.
Product liability laws in Georgia
In Georgia, the makers, distributors, and sellers of defective products can be held strictly liable for the burn injuries and other injuries their products cause. Strict liability means that we do not have to prove negligence or unreasonable care. The core requirements of a consumer product liability claim that Atlanta and Savannah burn injury lawyers work to prove are:
- That the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer made the product or placed the product into the stream of commerce
- The product was defective
- The product defect caused the burn injuries
A product is defective if it was designed improperly or was made improperly. Improper manufacturing can include using cut-rate parts or not following the design specifications. Products can also be defective if the instructions are inaccurate.
The makers and retailers of unsafe products can also be held liable for negligence if it can be shown they did not use reasonable care. Additionally, our lawyers in Atlanta and Savannah often bring a legal claim for breach of an express or implied warranty when a product malfunctions.
Examples of defective products that can lead to burn injuries
Consumer organizations and watchdog groups have reported on the following types of products that have severely injured consumers. Some of the most common defective products include:
- Clothing and bedding that is made of highly flammable materials
- Smoke detectors that fail to work, causing death and fires that result in permanent scarring and severe disfigurement
- Toys made of flammable materials, or with faulty electrical components
- Defective gas tanks for lawn movers, propane grills or generators
- Malfunctioning or defective household appliances
- Heating equipment, such as space heaters, furnaces and boilers
- Faulty electrical wiring in the home or in devices/products
- Malfunctioning or defective fire extinguishers
Defective products should be recalled immediately, given the risk of burn injury or structural fires. Most should never have been on the market in the first place. Sadly, recalls often do not occur until multiple innocent users have been seriously and permanently inured.
Helping Georgia injury victims move forward after a structural fire
There are few events more catastrophic than a house fire. Not only do you risk losing the home you worked so hard to build, but the risks of a life-altering or fatal injury are high. Your insurance company will fight to keep your money, and your medical bills could cost you everything.
If you have been injured in a house fire, you want a team of Atlanta burn injury attorneys who know how to build a successful case on your behalf. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we have fought to uphold the rights of injury victims for years. We have the resources, the experience and the skills to handle complex litigation, and a track record of success handling claims against Fortune 500 companies. When you need help, HLM is here for you.
Structural fires are the most common fires in Georgia
The U.S. Fire Administration compiles data from all 50 states regarding fire losses. In 2014, the most recent year available, Georgia had a greater percent of structure fires than the country: 83.3% to 78.5%. Of those fires, 81.9% were residential.
Out of every 1000 residential fires in Georgia, there are 5.6 deaths and 27.3 injuries reported. This is greater than that national average, as well (5.5 and 26.2, respectively).
Leading causes of structure fires in Georgia
The majority of house fires are related to kitchen mishaps: an unattended pot, a dish towel left too close to a burner, a sudden grease fire, etc. Some of the other causes can include:
- Faulty electrical wiring, or short-circuiting
- Overloaded or defective space heaters
- Unattended candles
- Flammable liquids kept too close to heat sources
- Curious children
Defective or malfunction products, such as smoke detectors or children’s toys, can lead to a fire or fail to protect you from harm if a fire begins elsewhere.
Burn injuries and shared residential structure fires: what you need to know
If you sustain a burn injury, or suffer from smoke or soot inhalation, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Whether or not someone else is liable for your injuries must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
For example, if you live in a condo, apartment or a townhouse, and a third party’s negligence leads to a fire in your home, you could be entitled to compensation. Common examples of this an include:
- A neighbor falling asleep while smoking
- A supervisor failing to replace broken smoke detectors
- A building manager failing to keep the structure up-to-code
- Fires that begin in boiler or furnace rooms
- Fires that begin because of faulty wiring
- Someone setting the fire deliberately
Burn injuries are life-altering, and may require months to heal. Many burn injuries leave permanent scars and often unsightly disfigurement, especially if the face is burned. This can affect your ability to find work in the future – provided you are able to work at all.
Your insurance company wants to keep your money
Georgia law does not require that you purchase homeowners’ insurance (though your mortgage company may have), nor does it require renters’ insurance. If you do not have a policy, you should consider purchasing one today. A fire can cost you everything.
However, it is important to note that even if you do have a policy, your insurer may try to lowball your settlement. Insurance companies want to keep your money, not pay it out. They may attempt to delay your claim, force you to use their adjuster, or intentionally act in bad faith. If this is the case, you should seek the help of an experienced attorney immediately.
Car and Truck accident Burns
Victims of Vehicle Fires and Explosions
Trucks and autos that are poorly designed can create fiery collisions that severely injure or kill drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Many victims of these crashes suffer third-degree burns that leave the victims scarred and disfigured for life – even after multiple skin graft surgeries. Some victims suffer fourth-degree burns that may require amputation of an arm or leg. Fires on the road can cause multi-car crashes and burn any victims who come close to the fire.
The Atlanta burn injury lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP are experienced product liability and negligence trial attorneys. We work with vehicle safety experts to determine what vehicle parts caused the fire to occur. When necessary, we also work with traffic reconstruction experts. Our lawyers keep current with the various safety recalls that are made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other governmental and consumer agencies. Over the past several years, millions of American and foreign-made vehicles have been recalled because of their propensity to cause a fire.
Burn injuries are unique personal injury cases because the survivors often suffer severe disfigurement and scarring in addition to daily physical pain. Many victims require psychological counseling and numerous surgeries just to be able to function. The out-of-pocket costs can be staggering. The pain and suffering usually lasts a lifetime.
Causes of vehicle burn injuries
Most car and truck accidents that happen are due to product safety defects that can cause single-vehicle fires and collisions with other vehicles due to lost control of the vehicle. Motor vehicles contain many highly flammable liquids, such as gasoline and oil. This means a fender-bender or “minor” collision has the potential to escalate into a full-scale fire because of a product defect.
Some of the many types of vehicle fire cases we handle are:
- Tires that come apart on the roadways, causing a fiery collision or an unstable vehicle to rollover and ignite
- Rear-mounted fuel tanks or leaky fuel lines can turn what would be a minor fender-bender into a tragedy
- Faulty electrical wiring, brake locking, and heating source failure
- Ozone cracking of rubber fuel lines
- Electrical devices that short-circuit
- Exhaust systems that overheat
Some of the sites we use to keep abreast of vehicle safety issues are:
- The Center for Auto Safety
- S. National Traffic Safety Administration
- S. Consumer Safety Information
- Public Citizen
- S. Fire Administration Vehicle Fire Guide
These sites enumerate prior complaints or fires caused by the same type of car or truck.
Vehicle fires can happen on Interstates 20, 75, 85, U.S. Routes 17 and 95, Georgia Route 400, and any other Georgia roads.
Vehicle burn litigation
When a vehicle fire causes death or injuries, our Atlanta burn injury lawyers immediately work to determine the cause of the fire. The cause of the fire determines what type of legal case can be brought and who should be held responsible. The main types of cases that are brought are:
- Product liability claims. The essence of a product liability case is to prove that the vehicle or vehicle part was defective at the time of the crash and that the defect caused the burn injuries. Defects can be due to a poor design, making the car with cheap parts or improperly, and faulty instructions. In product liability cases, the makers and sellers of the vehicle are strictly liable – there is no need to prove fault.
- Breach of warranty claims. Most vehicles come with express and implied warranties. The buyer of the car and others may be able to win the case based on the argument that the warranty was broken.
- Negligence actions. Businesses can be liable if the design was unreasonable. Drivers of other vehicles can be liable if they ran a red light, sped, or carelessly caused the collision that resulted in a fire.
In product liability and breach of warranty cases, generally any company that manufactured or sold the car is responsible. If the car or truck is a foreign-made vehicle, our lawyers work to determine which companies should be sued since there are often American and foreign companies involved.
Burn Injury Complications
Georgia Burn Injury Lawyers Explain Potential Complications
Serious injuries, like burns, can have life-altering consequences. Because of the nature of this type of injury, however, there is a high risk of complications. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we only represent the injured. We know how difficult it can be to live with an injury that leaves you unable to work and provide for your family, and to care for a person who has been catastrophically injured. If complications arose as a result of your burn injuries, our Atlanta lawyers can help you protect your family and your future.
Medical treatments for burn injuries in Georgia
The type of medical treatment you might need for your burn is directly related to the type of burn you have. A first-degree burn can be treated with cool water (never ice), burn cream or aloe vera, and some loose gauze, to keep the area clean without putting too much pressure on it. Anything other than a first-degree burn should be treated by a medical professional.
If you sustain a second-degree burn – the kind with raw, red blisters – you make needs weeks to fully heal. The doctor will wrap the wounds to keep them clean and free from infection, and you may be prescribed antibiotics. If the blisters are severe, you may need skin grafts.
Third-degree burns will necessitate a trip to the hospital. These are the third-most serious category of burn injuries. They permeate all layers of skin, and are often dry to the touch. Unlike first- and second-degree burns, third-degree may be painless, because they can damage the nerves. These injuries can lead to a complication called contracture, and often leave permanent scarring.
Fourth-degree burns are the most severe types of injuries. They reach down into the tissue, muscles and even the bone. A fourth-degree burn can lead to amputations, and require multiple surgeries. They are the most likely to be fatal.
Complications arising from serious burns
In most cases, first-degree burns – and some second-degree burns – will heal without any complications, though infection is always a risk. Third- and fourth-degree burn injuries, however, pose the most serious risk of complications:
- Infections. Any time your skin is open, your body is at risk of infection. Burn victims face the risk of sepsis, an inflammatory reaction to an infection, and tetanus, a bacterial infection. Both of these conditions can be deadly if they are left untreated.
- Blood loss. A body which loses too much blood too quickly is at risk of shutting down. Also called “hypovolemic shock,” severe blood loss can cause permanent organ damage, tissue death or heart attacks, and can be fatal.
- Temperature regulation. Severe burns can leave your body unable to regulate its own temperature. If your skin fuses to clothing, or if the scarring is too severe, your pores will be unable to release sweat, which means your body cannot cool itself. Severe burns can also cause your body to lose heat, leading to hypothermia. Hypothermia, in turn, can lead to tissue death, and can be fatal.
- Contracture. Contracture occurs when tissue loses its elasticity. It is a common effect of the severe scarring burn victims suffer.
- Oxygen deprivation. Inhaling smoke, soot and ash can burn your windpipe. However, if you sustain a burn injury on your neck, your throat can swell shut. You may need a breathing tube in order to survive. If the brain is deprived of oxygen for a minute, its cells begin to die. At three minutes, permanent brain damage is likely. At the five to six-minute mark, brain death becomes imminent.
- Circulation issues. Severe burns form scabs, called eschar, as they heal. If the eschar is too tight, it can affect your blood circulation.
- Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is rare condition that causes fluid to collect in the lungs. It prevents oxygen from reaching your organs. It is often fatal, though it can be treated and managed if caught early. It can also do lasting damage to the lungs.
Contact our experienced Georgia burn injury lawyers today
Burn injuries are some of the most serious injuries a person can incur. With the help of the Atlanta burn injury attorneys of HLM, you can hold the negligent parties responsible for your injuries. We diligently work to secure high-value outcomes for burn injury victims and their families. Call our Atlanta office at 404-961-7650 or our Savannah office at 912-651-9967 to schedule a free consultation. You can also complete our contact form.
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