A burn can be one of the most painful types of injuries. Burns are generally classified into 4 degrees of severity with 4th-degree being the most severe. The severity of the burn has a direct correlation to the expected compensation payout the victim receives either by out-of-court settlement or at trial.
It is also important to understand that the settlement calculation involves not just the severity of the burns but the size of the burn. A second-degree burn may have a higher settlement than a third-degree burn if the second-degree burn covers 30% of the body and the third-degree burn covers 5%.First Degree Burns
First-degree burns are the least serious category of burns. A first-degree burn involves damage only to the outer, superficial layer of the skin.
First-degree burns are comparable to sunburn. It usually involves redness, dryness, and sometimes swelling of the skin. The affected area may be painful to the touch. But there are no blisters on the skin. First-degree burns almost invariably heal completely.
The average settlement amount of a first-degree burn is less than $10,000. These injuries are not significant enough to warrant significant settlement compensation. Few law firms are handling these claims.Second Degree Burns
A second-degree burn occurs when the damage extends past the superficial outermost layer of the skin and goes deeper into the underneath layer of the skin called the dermis.
Second-degree burns leave the affected area of the skin bright red and swollen. The burned skin often has a wet or shiny appearance and blisters will also appear.
Second-degree burns may or may not completely heal depending on how deep the damage is. With a relatively shallow second-degree burn, only the upper part of the dermis layer is damaged.
This usually allows full recovery with no permanent scar tissue. With more severe second-degree burns the damage extends deeper into the dermis layer and results in permanent scarring or skin discoloration.
Our lawyers have never seen average second-degree burn injury settlement statistics. But, based on our burn injury attorneys' experience, we estimate an average settlement amount for a second-degree burn between $25,000 and $75,00. Could it be higher or lower? Yes, but you can expect approximately 90% of compensation payouts to be in this range.Third Degree Burns
A third-degree burn classification applies when both the outer and underneath (dermis) skin layers are completely damaged. This is sometimes referred to as a "full-thickness burn."
Third-degree burns typically turn the damaged skin area black, brown, or yellow. Instead of appearing wet like a second-degree burn, the damaged skin is dry to the touch and leathery in appearance.
Third-degree burns also destroy nerve endings in the area so the burn is typically not painful to the touch in the center. Third-degree burns are very serious injuries that should be treated in a hospital immediately. These burns can be caused by scalding liquid flames from a fire, and an electrical or chemical source.
Our burn injury lawyers have handled third-degree burn injury cases where the victim had a strong and quick recovery and we have had cases where the victims have died after extended suffering. As a result, the range of settlements for a third-degree burn will range from $100,000 to millions of dollars.Fourth Degree Burns
The most severe and harmful burns are classified as fourth-degree burns. The burns involve damage that goes beyond both layers of the skin and into the subcutaneous tissue. Some fourth-degree burns even involve damage to the underlying fascia, muscles, and bones. This is a brutal and extremely painful injury.
Fourth-degree burns almost always leave the damaged area completely black and charred in appearance. Even when confined to a small area of the body, fourth-degree burns can be life-threatening injuries.
Burns of this depth and severity can release deadly toxins into the bloodstream. Fourth-degree burns on limbs or extremities will almost always require immediate amputation.
The expected settlement compensation in the average 4th-degree burn case will run in the millions if liability is established.Burn Injury Compensation
If you were burned in an accident or as the direct result of someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to a financial compensation payout for your injury.
Lawsuits involving burn injuries can arise out of many contexts such as workplace accidents, serious car accidents, and the like.
The amount of monetary compensation you may be entitled to will typically depend on the nature, severity, and scope of your burn injury.First Degree Burn Settlements & Verdicts
A first-degree burn is a very minor injury. Again, most first-degree burns are analogous to sunburn. So it is not surprising that we don't find many reported settlements or verdicts based on first-degree burns.
- Bradley v. Timko (2013 Maryland): In this case the Plaintiff was in a car accident and alleged, among other injuries, that deployment of the airbag caused first-degree burns to his hands. The jury awarded $7,700 in damages for the first-degree burns.
- Marshall, Pro Ami v. Battle (2001 Maryland): A five-year-old suffered second-degree burns to 5% of his body from water in a shower that was too hot. A lawsuit was brought against the landlord and claims were settled for $4,000. This settlement is light for sure. But you have to keep in mind in cases like this that you do not know how strong the plaintiff's case was and that the defendant was responsible in the first place. The average settlement value for second-degree burns on a five-year-old should be much higher if responsibility is established.
- Pasina v. ACG Texas Holdings LLC (2017 Texas): Plaintiff suffered a second-degree burn on her fingers from overly hot syrup at an IHOP restaurant. The claims were settled for $7,000.
- Ramirez v. Westwind Development Inc. (2017 Texas): Improperly installed gas valve for dryer resulted in an explosion causing second-degree burns to 20% of Plaintiff's body. The burns permanently scarred his face. He also injured his hip and back and had to undergo surgery. A jury awarded damages of $6.9 million.
- D'Antoni v. Empire Medicine: Plaintiff incurred second-degree burns to her stomach as a result of thermotherapy done at a rehab facility. The jury awarded damages of only $26,000.
- Lopez v. Waite Avenue Apartments LLC (2022): A building superintendent suffered third-degree burns while assessing a hot water heater. He sued the apartment complex and the cases set during the pretrial settlement conference for a $750,000 payout.
- Nguyen v. Vinh Hung Enterprise Inc (2018 Pennsylvania): Plaintiff suffered third-degree burns to his face, neck, hands, and arms with permanent scarring from an explosion caused by a defective spark switch on a gas stove. The jury awarded damages of $9.3 million.
- Brown v. City of Chicago (2018 Illinois): Plaintiff received third-degree burns to the side of her head, neck, and shoulders from an accident involving a police car. The jury awarded her $530,000 in damages.
- Estes v. Sanders (2017 Texas): Plaintiff was involved in a car accident that caused third-degree burns. Claims were settled for $90,000.
- Dryer v. City Lanes LLC (2015 New York): Firefighter's safety alert system was defective and the alarm failed to go off. As a result, he suffered third and fourth-degree burns to various parts of his body. The fourth-degree burns necessitated the amputation of his right arm. The jury awarded a compensation payout of $10.5 million.
- Jentz v. ConAgra Foods Inc., (2012 Illinois) Third and fourth-degree burns were disfigurement, scarring, and permanent disability resulting from the explosion. Plaintiff was awarded damages of $75 million.
If you or someone you know might have a lawsuit involving burn injuries, contact the personal injury attorneys at Miller Zois for a free case evaluation. Call us at 1.800.553.8082 or submit a request for a free consultation.