Can You Sue if You’re Burned at Work?
August 11, 2020
You can file a workers’ comp claim for on-the-job injuries, but can you sue if you’re burned at work? That depends on what caused the burn and whether an outside person or company shares the blame. Can you claim for a burn at work or not can be complicated, factually and legally. If you’ve suffered a severe burn at work and want to learn about your legal rights, contact Wapner Newman.
This isn’t something you should take lightly, whether in medical or legal terms. Get treatment as soon as possible to limit the harm as much as you can. A burn can cause you to be physically and psychologically scarred and leave you struggling financially. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries beyond what you could receive through workers’ comp. These lawsuits can be complex, so you need help from attorneys you can trust.
Your burn at work could be caused by fire, electricity, chemicals, friction, steam, or direct contact with something hot. The injury can impact your skin, flesh, and nerves. If you’re exposed to a chemical mist, it could burn your eyes. If you inhale it, everything from your nose and mouth to your lungs could suffer chemical burns.
You could also suffer burns if there’s a fire where you work. Seventy percent of building fires are non-residential, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The most common causes were cooking, carelessness, electrical malfunctions, and arson.
You May Have a Successful Lawsuit for a Work-Related Burn in the Right Circumstances
Just suffering a burn at work doesn’t mean you can sue someone for your injury. Employees can’t sue their employers for negligence, with rare exceptions, but you could have a workers’ comp claim. For a valid lawsuit, there must be a third party that caused the burn and is legally responsible for it.
Situations where a third party may be to blame include:
- You’re working at a customer’s location. The customer or its employees do something to cause the burn.
- You work in construction for a subcontractor. Another subcontractor, the general contractor or their employees make a mistake, causing your injury.
- While driving on the job, another driver causes an accident, and you’re burned in a vehicle fire.
- You use a defective piece of equipment that gives you an electrical burn. Those involved in making and selling the equipment may be liable.
- An outside contractor does a poor job repairing or maintaining equipment where you work. Something breaks and you’re exposed to electricity, steam, chemicals, fire, or heat, causing your burn.
What Compensation Can You Claim for a Burn at Work?
Through a workers’ comp claim you could get partial pay for the time you missed at work, medical care, and rehabilitation. A lawsuit could provide you with compensation for your pain, suffering, the impact on your relationships, and pay not received through the comp claim.
Generally, it’s simpler to have a successful workers’ comp claim related to a burn at work than a it is to have a winning lawsuit. For a comp claim, you need to show you were injured while you were doing your job. In a lawsuit, unless the party intentionally burned you, you would need to prove negligence or, in the case of a dangerous product, make a product liability claim.
A successful negligence lawsuit related to getting burned at work would need to show:
- The party sued owed you a legal obligation to do something, or avoid doing something, to prevent you from being burned.
- They failed in their obligation.
- That failure caused your injury, factually and legally.
- You suffered damages (harm measured in dollars).
- Pennsylvania law requires them to compensate you for your damages.
In a product liability case, you would need to prove that the equipment you were operating at work, even if used as intended, was unreasonably dangerous because of:
- A faulty design
- A manufacturing defect
- Insufficient warnings or instructions.
Don’t Let the Responsible Party Off the Hook
If a severe burn happened at work, contact our office. You should tell your employer as quickly as possible so you can start the workers’ compensation process. The deadline to file a lawsuit is two years from your injury, but you should reach out to us much earlier than that. Whether you have a third party claim or not depends on the facts of your case. After we’re retained, we can start an investigation into the accident and find out how you were injured and why.
A severe burn can be extremely painful, leave you vulnerable to infections, and limit you physically. You may be unable to work and have unpaid medical bills. In this stressful time, you need someone who can help you and your family.
If you’ve suffered a severe burn at work you may have different options to get the pay and medical care you need, plus compensation for pain and suffering. If you need help with a Pennsylvania or New Jersey workers’ compensation claim or third-party lawsuit, call Wapner Newman’ burn injury lawyers today at (800) 569-0900 for a no-obligation consultation.