Burn Injury Guide

Fires and burns were the sixth most common cause of accidental deaths in the United States in 2021. Although many people suffer minor burns, including burns that do not require medical treatment, severe burn injuries require long-term medical treatment. There is a high risk of infection from severe burn injuries, which can be fatal.

You do not need to be near a fire to suffer a burn injury. There are multiple types of burn injuries, and these injuries can occur almost anywhere. Understanding burn injuries, common causes of these injuries, and liability for burn injuries can clarify if your case supports a burn injury claim.

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Common Causes of Burn Injuries 

There are several common ways people suffer burn injuries. Some happen at home, while others are more commonly associated with workplace accidents. You can also suffer burn injuries in public places, transit, or private residences.

At Home 

No matter how many steps you take to ensure safety at home, accidents can happen. Some things are out of your control that could cause burn injuries. Common causes of burns at home include the following:

  • Fires: You do not need a fireplace or fire pit to suffer from a house fire. Electrical issues and lightning can cause house fires. Exposure to fire can cause first, second, third, and fourth-degree burns. 
  • Scalding: Scalding refers to injuries from hot liquids or steam. Scalding injuries are commonly associated with hot foods and beverages like soup, tea, or coffee. You can suffer a burn from steam if you put your hand over a pot of boiling water or your skin comes in contact with steam coming out of a kettle. You can also suffer burns from hot water if your water’s too hot when you shower. The leading cause of burns for children is hot liquid.
  • Sunburn: Exposure to sunlight can cause minor and severe burns. Sunburns can occur in any location where you have exposure to the elements. You can even get a sunburn if you sit by a window for an extended period.

At Work 

Workplace accidents account for approximately 45% of burn injuries. Common causes of workplace burns include the following:

  • Chemicals: Contact with chemicals can cause skin and eye damage. Common chemicals people receive chemical burns from include bleach, drain cleaners, and gasoline. Although chemical burns are common in the workplace, they can occur anywhere you’re exposed to chemicals.
  • Electricity: Contact with electrical wires, faulty wiring, or defective products can cause electrical burns. Electrical burns can cause minor or severe skin and organ damage. The degree of damage depends on the electricity’s voltage. 
  • Radiation: Radiation burns include exposure to radiation and UV rays via sunlight. People working with radiation can suffer radiation burns if exposed.

Employees are also at risk of thermal burns from hot liquids or objects.

Other Locations 

You could suffer almost any type of burn in most locations. Car accidents can cause burns if a vehicle catches fire or if the accident puts victims in contact with hot objects, such as tailpipes.

Severity of Burns 

First, second, and third-degree burns are most common. However, it’s also possible for individuals to suffer severe fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree burns.

First-Degree Burns 

Most people suffer from a first-degree burn at some point. A common type of first-degree burn is a sunburn. These burns affect the top layer of your skin and are typically superficial burns that do not require medical treatment. 

Second-Degree Burns

In addition to damaging your epidermis, second-degree burns damage your dermis. Also known as partial-thickness burns, second-degree burns may cause blistering, redness, and swelling.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree, or full-thickness, burns reach through all layers of your skin to your fat. Damage from third-degree burns extends to your nerve endings, which is why people experience more pain from second-degree burns than third-degree burns.

Fourth-Degree Burns 

Fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree burns are the most severe burns you can suffer. In addition to damaging your epidermis, dermis, fat, and nerve endings, these burns damage your muscles and tendons. They can also damage your bones and lead to organ damage. Although it’s possible to survive these burns with proper medical care, these burns are more likely to cause scarring and disfigurement.

Burn Injuries Outside of Work 

Suppose you suffer a burn at home or another person’s residence. No matter where your injury occurs, you may have grounds for a burn injury claim. 

When You Might Be Able to Sue for a Burn Injury 

There could be legal grounds for your burn injury claim if one or more of the following apply to your case:

  • Car accident: You may have grounds for a catastrophic injury claim if you suffered burns from a car accident.
  • Defective products: Faulty products like pressure cookers and other kitchen appliances can cause burn injuries. Product manufacturers may be liable if they’re aware of a safety risk and do not take steps to recall the product. Retailers may be liable if they’re aware of a safety recall and continue selling the product and it causes a burn injury. 
  • Negligence: Negligence refers to someone doing something most people would not do or not doing something most people would do under the same circumstances. Society operates with the expectation that most people will engage in reasonable behavior without compromising the safety of others. You may have grounds for a legal claim if a person’s negligence causes your burn injury.
  • Personal liability: Suppose your neighbor asks you to water their plants while they’re away. When you turn on the tap, scalding water comes out, and you suffer a thermal burn. You may have grounds for a legal claim. Any burn occurring on another person’s property could be grounds for a lawsuit. 

What to Do if You Suffer a Burn Injury at Home or Outside Work 

Crucial steps you should take after suffering a burn injury at home or in any location outside work include the following:

  • Seek medical treatment: Prompt, proper medical care is essential when dealing with burn injuries. Medical professionals can assess the burn’s thickness and your risk of infection. You should have a medical diagnosis to verify the severity of your burn injury and its cause.
  • Talk to a personal injury attorney: Personal injury lawyers handle multiple injury cases, including burn injury claims. Injury attorneys can answer your legal questions, advise you of your options, and handle the legal requirements to pursue your claim. 
  • Document your injury: Record as much as you can recall about the events leading up to your burn injury and what happened after the injury. Make notes and take photos or videos. Photos and videos are helpful because they’re timestamped, enabling you to prove when your injury occurred. Taking a photo of the accident site can be helpful because you may not have time to notice all relevant details if you need immediate medical care. 

Burn Injuries at Work 

You must take extra steps to make a burn injury claim if you’re injured at work.

What to Do if You Suffer a Burn Injury at Work 

Like those injured outside the workplace, you should take these steps after a burn injury:

  • Seek medical treatment
  • Talk to a burn injury lawyer
  • Document your accident

You should also take these steps after a workplace burn injury:

  • Report the injury: Workplaces have a reporting system in place for accidents and injuries. Ensure you complete the paperwork required. 
  • File a workers’ compensation claim: Workers’ compensation covers most expenses stemming from workplace accidents, including medical costs and lost income.

Can I Sue My Employer for a Burn Injury? 

You may not have grounds to sue your employer for a workplace burn injury. Typically, employees receive compensation through their workers’ compensation claim. However, speaking to an injury attorney is the best way to verify your options to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit. You may also need an injury attorney’s assistance if workers’ compensation denies your claim. 

Filing a Burn Injury Claim

Suppose you suffered a burn injury and believe you have grounds for a legal claim. You have two options:

  • File yourself
  • Hire a lawyer

You can prepare the filing paperwork, file it with the courts, have the defendants served, and handle settlement negotiations yourself. You will also need to investigate the case, locate and depose witnesses, locate and file physical evidence, and respond to discovery requests from the defendant’s legal team.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer is the best way to proceed unless you have a legal background. Your legal team will handle the investigation, prepare the legal paperwork, file your claim, and look after all the essential steps until you receive compensation for your claim.

Compensation for Burn Injuries

How much compensation you can seek from a burn injury claim depends on the following:

  • Cause of the accident
  • Severity of injuries
  • Injury-related expenses

Monetary or economic damages compensate victims for provable costs that you can substantiate with bills or other paperwork. Monetary damages you can claim include reimbursement for the following:

  • Childcare costs
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Personal care costs
  • Transportation costs

Non-monetary or non-economic damages are more challenging to assign a dollar value to because they compensate victims for things that don’t come with price tags. Reasons you could seek non-monetary damages include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disfigurement
  • Grief
  • Loss of intimacy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Trauma

In rare cases, victims can seek punitive damages. Punitive damages apply to cases involving gross negligence. This means the at-fault party engaged in conduct they knew was likely to cause harm or didn’t take steps they knew were needed to prevent harm. Discussing your case with an injury attorney is the best way to determine if you have grounds for punitive damages. 

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me After a Burn Injury?

Personal injury attorneys have the legal knowledge to determine if you have grounds for a burn injury claim. Since injury attorneys charge contingency fees, there’s no financial risk when you contact them for a consultation. You can ask questions and get legal counsel about your options. You won’t pay any legal fees until you receive compensation.

When you hire an injury attorney, you’re gaining an advocate who’ll handle the claims process and fight for you to receive justice from a fair settlement. 

If You Have Suffered a Burn Injury, Give Bachus & Schanker a Call Today

A personal injury attorney shaking hands with their client. Between them is paperwork, an open laptop, the scales of justice, and a gavel.

Turn to the Colorado burn injury experts at Bachus & Schanker for a free consultation. Our legal team has years of experience fighting for injury victims. We also have a Victim’s Advocate team that helps with case investigations. Our team ensures we identify all parties responsible for your injury so we can hold them accountable. Our team can also help you locate financial resources you can use while we resolve your claim.

We fight for you to receive fair financial compensation for your injury from those responsible, and you won’t pay any legal fees until we get you the compensation you deserve. 


Best Buy Recalls Nearly 1 Million Pressure Cookers After Reports of 17 Burn Injuries. (2023). 

Burn Prevention and Home Safety. (2024). 

Top 10 Preventable Injuries. (2023).