Arizona Workplace Burn Injuries
Burns are among the worst occupational injuries that a worker can suffer. A severe burn injury can result in costly medical treatment, missed time at work, and life-altering complications. Fortunately, financial relief is often possible through a workers’ compensation claim.
Arizona workers’ compensation laws allow eligible employees to file claims for benefits after sustaining injuries in workplace accidents. However, the process of applying for and obtaining benefits may be difficult to navigate without an experienced attorney’s help.
When you’re coping with burn injuries, the last thing you should deal with is paperwork, filing deadlines, and stubborn insurance companies bent on paying as little as possible to you. The workplace burn injury attorneys at Matt Fendon Law Group can take care of everything for you.
Though workers’ compensation benefits are available regardless of fault, claimants often face obstacles on the path to a fair settlement. Rather than fight that battle alone, put an Arizona workplace burn injury attorney to work for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Common Causes of Workplace Burn Injuries
Workers across many different industries are at risk of burn injuries. Restaurant workers in kitchens are surrounded by hot stoves, oil, and steam. Electricians are regularly in contact with open circuitry. Employees in industrial or chemical plants may be exposed to caustic substances. Firefighters put their lives on the line combating blazes. Even office workers could be hurt by a kitchenette range or spilled coffee pot.
According to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, most burn injuries result from exposure to heat from fire, hot solids or surfaces, or hot liquids. Burn victims also commonly sustain inhalation injuries from breathing in smoke, dangerously hot air, or chemical combustion products.
Other causes of burn injuries include:
- Workplace explosions
- Direct contact with open flames and steam
- Direct contact with industrial chemicals in solid, liquid, or gaseous form
- Exposure to dangerous levels of radiation from work equipment such as X-rays, sun lamps, or ultraviolet (UV) lights
- Exposure to excessive sunlight, extreme cold, or windy conditions
- Direct contact with electrical wiring and
- Lightning strikes
- Exposure to intense friction from contact with hard or rough surfaces, such as asphalt, concrete, or even coarse flooring materials
Classification of Burn Injuries
Medical professionals classify burn injuries based on the depth and overall severity of the burn. Different classes, or “degrees,” of burn injuries include:
- First-degree burns – A first-degree burn damages only the top layer of the skin. These burns cause pain and redness but no blisters or permanent damage.
- Second-degree burns – A second-degree or “partial thickness” burn damages the top and lower layers of skin. Second-degree burns typically result in blisters, reddened skin, and, occasionally, swelling.
- Third-degree burns – A third-degree or “full thickness” burn thoroughly damages the skin and sometimes affects subcutaneous tissues such as fat cells, blood vessels, or even nerve endings. Third-degree burns can leave surrounding skin and other tissue blackened or discolored.
- Fourth-degree burns – A fourth-degree burn is the most severe type of burn. Fourth-degree burns destroy all layers of skin and cause damage to muscles or even bones. These catastrophic burns also commonly cause severe nerve damage, preventing burn victims from feeling pain in the early stages of recovery.
Burn Injury Complications
In addition to the direct trauma of workplace burn injuries, victims may experience the following complications:
- Infection – If a burn wound is not cleaned correctly, it can become infected by harmful bacteria. Bacterial infections can lead to dangerous conditions such as sepsis or toxic shock syndrome.
- Loss of fluids – When a serious burn damages one or more layers of skin, the skin’s ability to retain fluids is compromised. Fluid loss from burn injuries can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or even kidney failure.
- Hypothermia – Intact, healthy layers of skin play an important role in regulating the body’s temperature. When severe burns damage the skin, patients are at increased risk of hypothermia.
- Respiratory issues – Many burn victims develop respiratory problems due to inhaling hot air, steam, toxic chemicals, or smoke. Inhalation injuries can lead to difficulty breathing and pain or tightness in the chest.
- Scarring and disfigurement – When damaged skin repairs itself, the cells produce a protein called collagen, which thickens the skin and causes scarring as it heals. Many burn scars cause permanent disfigurement and significantly affect victims’ appearances.
- Limited range of motion – When scar tissue forms in certain areas of a patient’s body after a burn injury, the toughened surface of the skin can result in limited range of motion.
- Emotional anguish – The trauma of a workplace burn injury coupled with the personal implications of significant changes in appearance and quality of life can leave victims with post-traumatic stress and other emotional issues.
How to Get Workers’ Compensation for a Burn Injury
If you sustained burns at work, take the following steps to protect yourself when filing a burn injury claim:
- Seek medical attention – Your health should be your top priority after a workplace burn injury. Visit a doctor immediately after your injury to get the treatment you need and establish an official record of your condition.
- Notify your employer – If the accident was an emergency, your employer will likely know of the burn injury already. Regardless, you need to submit your notification in writing as soon as possible. Retain a copy for your records. Your employer is required to report the injury to their workers’ comp insurance provider and the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) within 10 days.
- File the appropriate forms – You must file completed Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury and Workers’ Report of Injury forms with the ICA, your employer, and their insurance carrier within one year of the date of your injury. After you file your workers’ comp paperwork, your employer’s insurance carrier has 21 days to approve or deny your claim.
- File an appeal, if necessary – If the insurance company denies your claim, you have 90 days from the day you receive the denial to file a Request for Hearing with the ICA.
- Talk to a trusted workplace burn injury attorney – A lawyer can help you manage important paperwork, documents, and deadlines for your workers’ comp case. An attorney can also represent you at any hearings or appeals, which can greatly improve your chances of a satisfactory outcome.
Can I File a Burn Injury Lawsuit?
Generally speaking, you give up the right to sue your employer for a workplace burn injury when you accept their workers’ compensation insurance benefits.
However, you may have grounds for a lawsuit if the negligence of a third party (not your employer) contributed to your injuries; you may have grounds for a separate personal injury lawsuit against that other company. Our lawyers can help direct you to accomplished Arizona personal injury lawyers who can determine whether you are eligible to file a workplace burn injury lawsuit.
Contact Matt Fendon Law Group Today
Securing maximum workers’ compensation benefits is crucial if you’re recovering from a burn injury. Let Matt Fendon Law Group protect your rights and push for the compensation you need as you heal. For a free case evaluation, contact us 24/7 by phone, filling out our contact form, or chatting with us online.