Second- or third-degree burns can take months or even years to heal, which means that it's important not to rush to accept a personal injury settlement. Although you may be offered a settlement shortly after the accident, you should not accept an offer until you have a solid understanding of your prognosis.
Possible Burn Injury Complications
The risk of complications increases according to the severity of the burn injury and the percentage of the body that is affected. Some of the possible complications include:
- Infection. Since the skin is the body's main barrier to keep out harmful bacteria, infection is the most worrisome burn injury complication. Infections can take several different forms, but the most serious is sepsis. This type of infection causes inflammation in the main organs of the body and is fatal if not treated.
- Low blood volume. Known as hypovolemia, this complication occurs when burns damage the blood vessels and prevent the body from maintaining the necessary blood flow.
- Blood clots. Burn victims typically require extensive bed rest, which increases their risk of developing dangerous blood clots. The risk for blood clots is highest when the burns cover a large portion of the victim's body.
- Respiratory problems. Breathing hot air or smoke can burn the airways, causing damage to the lungs.
- Hypothermia. Since the skin helps regulate body temperature, burns covering a large portion of the body can lead to a dangerously low body temperature.
- Reduced mobility. Although scarring is expected with severe burns, thick scar tissue that forms near the joints can affect the victim's range of motion.
- Mental health disorders. Suffering serious burns can be very traumatic, putting victims at risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Those with a previous history of mental health disorders are most at risk of this type of burn injury complication.
The Importance of Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
It is impossible to predict with certainty who will experience burn injury complications. The risk of complications is highest immediately following the burn injury, but anyone can experience unforeseen problems in the healing process.
When you accept a personal injury settlement, you're not allowed to go back and ask for any additional funds if your injuries turn out to be more extensive than you expected. Therefore, it's vital that you wait until you've reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before agreeing to a settlement. Reaching MMI means you've either fully recovered or your condition has stabilized and your care providers can make a reasonable assumption as to what your future medical needs will entail.
Components of a Personal Injury Settlement
A personal injury settlement includes compensation for:
- Prior medical care received as the result of the accident
- Anticipated future medical needs, if the injuries resulted in a permanent disability
- Prior lost wages due to the accident
- Anticipated loss of future earning potential, if the injuries resulted in a permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
Damages must be appropriately documented. Medical bills, insurance statements, pay stubs, and statements from your employer can be used to document prior medical expenses and lost wages. Testimony from qualified experts can be used to support your claim for future medical expenses and/or loss of future earning potential.
How Fault Affects Your Settlement
If the accident that caused your burns was partially your fault, you're still entitled to compensation for your expenses. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your responsibility for your injuries.
In car accident cases, there is no set formula used to determine percentage of fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can often negotiate a lower percentage of fault for your case and increase your eligibility for compensation. Negotiating a lower fault percentage can prove key in cases where you've been left permanently disabled as the result of your burns.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
When you're recovering from burn injuries, your full attention needs to be on getting the care you need to move forward with your life. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's experienced Louisiana personal injury attorneys can help you resolve your personal injury claim by gathering evidence to prove liability, documenting damages, and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.