The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2014 there were an estimated 1,298,000 fires reported in the United States. Unfortunately, these fires caused 3,275 civilian death and almost 16,000 injuries. Additionally, fire accidents resulted in 11.6 billion dollars in property damage. Some of the most common causes for fire are listed as:
- Appliance and equipment failures
- Arson and juvenile fire setting
- Chemicals and gasses
- Electrical and consumer electronics
- Holiday decorations
- Household products
- Lightning fires and lightning strikes
- Smoking materials
While the NFPA has fire prevention tips and strategies it is a sad reality that people are often injured or die when they are involved in a fire.
Types of Injuries from Fires
When you ask about fire injuries many people automatically and exclusively turn to burns. While burns are a very common injury, there are other injuries that can be just as severe and have an equally detrimental impact on a persons’ life.
There are two types of burns from fires: flash burns and burns from flames. Flash burns result from a sudden intense heat, which usually result from some form of explosion. Generally, people who have sustained flash burns can be treated as an outpatient and do not require extensive medical care. On the other hand, those who suffer burns from flames may incur extensive damage depending on the severity of the burn. There are four widely accepted burn types, which are separated by degrees.
- First-degree burns affect only the top layer of skin, which is known as the epidermis. In these burn types the skin is usually red and painful, however, this burn is usually equivalent to a sunburn and the healing process normally does not take longer than 3-5 days.
- Second-degree burns can be classified as either partial or full thickness burns and are more severe than first degree burns. In a partial thickness burn, there can be a blister that involved the entire skin and upper layers of the skin known as the dermis. The healing process for these burns can take anywhere from 10-21 days and potentially longer. In a full thickness second-degree burn, the skin can appear to be red or white but will usually appear to be dry. This is because a full thickness second-degree burn involves the destruction of the entire outer layer of skin and most of the top layers underlying the epidermis. These burns often require extensive medical treatment and skin grafting to heal.
- Third-degree burns are a very serious injury and should be treated by a medical professional. Third-degree burn entails the complete destruction of all the layers of the skin and extends deep into the tissue below the skin. In these burns, the skin can appear black or white but will be very dry. However, there is often very little pain in these types of injuries due to the extensive damage to the nerves. These injuries normally require skin grafting and will often result in severe scarring.
- Fourth-degree burns are types of burns that are by far the most serious and will often result in severe impairment and disability. Fourth-degree burns involve burns to the deeper tissues such as the muscle, tendons, and bones. In these cases, you should seek prompt medical treatment.
However, often there are many other injuries that may result from a fire which are often overlooked however equally as dangerous. Some of these include:
- Smoke inhalation
- Broken bones
- Strains and sprains
- Brain injuries
Surprisingly, one of the most common lifelong results of burn injuries sustained in a fire is brain injury. Cerebral hypoxia is a condition in which oxygen is cut off from the brain, causing brain cells to die. In these cases, a person can die or suffer severe life-long impairments.
Who is Liable for Burns?
If you have been in an accident involving a fire you most likely want to know who can be held liable for your injuries if anyone?
When someone is severely injured because of an accidental fire, liability for your injuries may rest with the person who started the fire. Alternatively, a person who caused a fire to go out of control may be held liable for any resulting injuries. Responsible parties may include:
- Product manufacturers
- Property owners or landlord
- Ordinary individuals who act negligently
One of the most frequent questions about fire injuries comes from when a person is injured on another’s property. Generally, an owner or business is responsible for keeping its property safe for persons lawfully on the property. Therefore, if you have suffered an injury as a result of a fire stemming from improper use of a product or maintenance of the property, you may be able to hold the property owner liable.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive from a Fire Injury in Pennsylvania?
As noted above, injuries from fires may require extensive and expensive surgery and may put you out of work for an extended period of time. Many people want to know what types of compensation can they receive in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the courts have consistently held that damages are to be compensatory to the full extent of the injury sustained. This rule “is to give actual compensation, by graduating the number of damages exactly to the extent of loss” Forsyth v. Palmer, 14 Pa. 96, 97 (1850). Some of the types of compensation you may be entitled to receive are:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Emotional trauma
- Property damage
- Out of pocket expenses
There may be other damages that you may be able to recover in the event that you have been injured in a fire. You should be aware that personal injury awards are usually paid in lump-sum payments, and therefore, if you believe that you will have future expenses as a result of your injury you will be expected to prove this at the time of trial.
Rely on an Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer
To speak confidentially with an experienced Pennsylvania Fire Accident attorney, call the law offices of Reiff & Bily at (215) 274-0072, or contact us online for a free consultation.