Pittsburgh Burn Injury Attorneys
The American Burn Association (ABA) reports that every year, over 450,000 serious burn injuries requiring medical treatment occur in the United States. Burn injuries are often associated with serious complications and sometimes death, with 3,704 people killed by fire in 2019, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
Severe burns are some of the most painful and debilitating types of injuries that victims can suffer. They may result in scarring, disfigurement, and the loss of limbs, and often require multiple surgeries and long-term care and treatment.
Chaffin Luhana Pittsburgh burn injury lawyers represent individuals who are severely burned in car accidents and trucking accidents, motorcycling accidents, construction site accidents, gas can fires, fuel gel fires, and more. If you or someone you love is suffering from the pain and disfiguring scars of severe burns, we may be able to help you.
Give our experienced Pittsburgh burn injury attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.
What is a Burn Injury?
The Pennsylvania Department of Health defines a burn as damage to the skin or other body parts “caused by extreme heat, flame, contact with heated objects, or chemicals.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a similar definition, stating that a burn is an injury to the skin or other organic tissue caused by “heat or due to radiation, radioactivity, electricity, friction, or contact with chemicals.” They add that burns occur mainly in the home and workplace and that they are often preventable.
Types of Burn Injuries
There are different types of burns depending on what causes them:
- Thermal burns: These are caused by heat. Hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames cause thermal burns.
- Radiation burns: These are caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, or to other sources of radiation such as that used during cancer treatments.
- Chemical burns: These are caused by strong chemicals coming into contact with the skin or the eyes. Chemicals that may burn include strong acids, alkalies, detergents, or solvents such as ammonia, bleach, and battery acid.
- Electrical burns: These are caused by an electrical current.
- Friction burns: Heat generated by friction, such as when the skin rubs against another surface or is scraped against a hard surface, can cause a burn. Examples include touching a treadmill in motion or experiencing a rope burn.
- Cold burns: It’s possible to burn the skin with extremely cold temperatures. Also called an ice burn, this may occur when the skin comes into direct contact with ice or something else very cold for an extended period. Frostbite also qualifies as a cold burn.
Degrees of Burn Injuries
Burns vary in severity depending on the depth of the skin and tissue damage. They are usually categorized as follows:
- 1st-degree burn: This is a minor burn affecting only the outer layer of skin. It’s also called a superficial burn. Symptoms typically include redness and pain. This type of burn typically heals on its own within a week or so.
- 2nd-degree burn: This burn is more serious, affecting the first and second layers of skin. Symptoms include swelling and red, white, or splotchy skin. Blisters may also occur. Pain may be severe and scarring is likely. Healing will take longer to occur, but the damaged skin usually grows back unless it becomes infected.
- 3rd-degree burn: This is a much more serious type of burn, as it reaches deep enough to affect the fat layer underneath the skin. It’s also called a “full-thickness” burn. Burned areas may appear black, brown, or white. The skin may look leathery. Because the burn can destroy nerves too, the area may feel numb at first. These types of burns don’t heal by themselves. Skin grafting is often necessary.
- 4th-degree and deeper: These burns destroy the skin and the fat, and may damage the muscle and sometimes the bone. Amputation may be necessary.
Doctors determine the severity of a burn by considering the following factors:
- Degree (depth) of the burn
- Size (percentage) of the skin that is burned
- Age of the injured person
- Other factors such as the location of the burn on the body and the type of burn
Deep and widespread burns may lead to other complications including infections, fluid loss, hypothermia, breathing problems (from smoke inhalation), scars, and bone and joint problems.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries in Pittsburgh
Primary causes of burn injuries include:
Most of the burn injuries that occur in the U.S. are caused by fire or flame. Explosions, car accidents, burning batteries, or even appliance fires can cause these types of injuries.
Often the second most common causes of burns, these occur when patients suffer an injury from steam, hot water, spilled coffee, and the like. Defective pressure cooker explosions often cause these types of burns.
Contact with a Hot Object
This falls under the category of thermal burns and often results when someone comes into contact with heated equipment, a hot stovetop, or another hot object. Children are most at risk for these types of burns, but workers in certain occupations can be too. Contact burns occur in workplaces when workers touch hot commercial equipment.
These are rarer than other types of burns and tend to occur more often in the workplace. Mishandling of machinery or improper safety guards in the workplace can result in electrical burns. These types of burns can happen at home when electrical wiring or faulty outlets are present.
Workplace Chemical Burns
Some industries and jobs require workers to perform daily tasks around dangerous chemicals. When a corrosive substance comes into contact with the soft tissues on the skin or in the eyes, it can result in chemical burns.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reports that 14 percent of the 31.6 million fire department responses in 2014 were to roadway properties, including parking lots and driveways. About 1,189 of those were to a highway or divided highway, while 1,078 were to a residential street, road, or driveway. Two-thirds of roadway incidents prompted emergency medical services calls or rescues.
Motor vehicle accidents can sometimes result in fires if the impact affects the fuel tank or fuel flow or if the crash involved a fuel truck. Fires may also occur in vehicles while they’re sitting in the driveway, as evidenced by several vehicle recalls for these types of fuel-line problems.
How to Select a Burn Injury Attorney in Pittsburgh
When looking for the best burn injury attorney in Pittsburgh, seek someone who has years of experience in these types of cases. Ask for information on their settlements and verdicts to see what sort of success they have had with their other clients.
Make sure they are comfortable with going to trial, in case your case may require that. Even if it doesn’t, having a trial-savvy attorney can help add clout to your case, and make insurance companies more likely to work with you on a fair settlement.
Check the firm’s online reputation, and see if they have won any awards or other similar recognition for their work. Your burn injury attorney will be working on your behalf, so you want to be sure you feel comfortable with this person. See how well they communicate with you and find out what they will do to gather the evidence required to prove your case.
Always expect that you will have a chance to talk with the burn injury lawyer in an initial free consultation. This will give you a chance to ask questions, observe the people you may be working with, and find out how the attorney will approach your case.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
Fuel Gel Burn Victim
“Just wanted to thank you again for giving us the opportunity to enjoy life as a family. I feel very blessed to have people like you in my life.”
– Jason P., Personal Injury Client
$1.7 Million Recovery
Here are some recent reviews from our clients
Find more testimonials here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
According to the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) agency, burn severity is typically dictated by how much of the body surface area is affected. When more than 30 percent of the total body surface area is burned, that means that the injury may be fatal without treatment.
In children, that percentage may be lower because of their smaller size. Other factors that may make a burn injury life-threatening include:
- Age: Older people have fewer defenses against burn injuries, and have more difficulty surviving even smaller burns.
- Smoke inhalation: If the person was burned and suffered from smoke inhalation at the same time, that will complicate their potential outcome.
- Other injuries: If there were other injuries along with the burn injuries, such as broken bones or organ damage, the odds that the injuries are life-threatening go up.
Delay in treatment: Any delay in treatment can worsen the person’s condition.
Skin grafts are required only when the damage from the burn is too deep for the body to recover on its own. This usually occurs only with third-degree or higher burns. First-degree burns typically heal within a week or two. Second-degree burns may take a month or more, but usually don’t require skin grafting.
Third-degree or higher burns may require skin grafts if doctors determine that they will not heal well on their own.
The amount of compensation that may be available to you after a burn injury depends on many factors.
- First, how severe was the burn?
- Second, how much treatment and rehabilitation will you require?
- Third, how much will this burn affect your ability to do your job or go about your regular daily activities of life?
First-degree burns, for instance—which are often compared to sunburns—are usually not serious. Second-degree burns may heal without scarring, but more severe second-degree burns may result in permanent scarring or skin discoloration.
Third-degree and higher burns are much more serious and often require multiple surgeries and long recovery times. They may also result in death.
To recover damages from another party in a burn injury claim, you need to prove that the party was negligent. To do that, your burn injury attorney will establish that:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This means that the other person was obligated to avoid causing harm to you, either by action or inaction. Another driver on the highway, for instance, has a duty of care to other people who share the road. An employer has a duty of care to you as an employee to create a safe workspace. A manufacturer of a product has a duty of care to consumers to make sure the product— when used in a foreseeable way—will not cause injury.
- That duty was breached. The at-fault person didn’t uphold their duty of care.
- The breach caused your injury. You have evidence that you were hurt because of the other person’s negligence.
- The injury resulted in financial losses (such as medical expenses, lost wages, etc.). You have proof in the form of medical bills, time missed from work, physical therapy expenses, etc.
Keep in mind that if you were partially at fault for the accident, the amount of compensation you may be entitled to can be reduced by your percentage of fault. Pennsylvania is a comparative-fault state, which means that you can still seek compensation as long as you were no more than 50 percent at fault for your injury.
In Pennsylvania, burn victims typically have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim. There are some exceptions. If the victim is a minor, they have two years from when they turn 18 years of age to file a claim.
It's best not to wait, however. You and your burn injury lawyer are more likely to be able to gather the evidence you need to prove your claim if you file it right away.
You may be eligible to file for compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical Bills: These may include surgeries, physical therapy, long-term rehabilitative care, skin grafts, medications, and more.
- Lost Wages: If your burn injury prevents you from going back to work, you can claim your lost wages for the time you're away. If the injury is bad enough that you can no longer do the work you were trained to do, you may also be able to claim for future lost earnings.
- Property Damage: If the fire damaged your property, such as your vehicle, home, or important equipment such as a computer or cell phone, you may be able to claim those damages too.
- Pain and Suffering: If the injury caused you significant mental anguish and pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other types of mental and emotional injuries, you may be compensated for these.
Disfigurement and Disability: Burns, in particular, can lead to lasting scars. If these are readily noticeable—such as those on the face—they can affect your self-image and self-esteem, and everything in your life related to that. Some burns can also cause permanent disability, particularly if they result in amputations or muscle and nerve damage. For these types of injuries, the at-fault party should be held liable.
If your burn injury occurred at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover damages like medical bills and lost wages. You should inform your supervisor immediately, gather any evidence you can, and talk to a burn injury attorney. He or she can help ensure you file your claim correctly, and that you don’t miss any critical deadlines. They can also step in should your claim be denied, or if you don’t receive the compensation you deserve.