Employees burned at work are normally entitled to recover compensation under state workers’ compensation laws. (Federal workers are covered under a federally-administered workers’ compensation program.) State compensation programs typically provide for a recovery for the injury itself, and for medical and other related costs, lost wages, and future earnings impairment.
Most state workers’ compensation laws make use of “schedules” concerning the compensation to which an employee is entitled in the event of an injury. For discrete injuries, such as a broken arm, a specific benefit amount may be stated in the applicable schedule, and the employee will be entitled to this exact amount. For other injuries that are less discrete, such as back injuries or burn injuries, the amount of compensation due may be dependent upon factors such as the degree of impairment and whether the injury results in permanent impairment or permanent disability.
What if I Contributed to the Accident?
Under the workers’ compensation laws of most states, it does not matter whether you were negligent or careless in contributing to your accident. As long as you were injured in the course of your employment, you are likely entitled to compensation so long as you did not act to deliberately harm yourself.
Compensation for Medical Costs and Lost Pay
Payment for medical and treatment costs arising directly from the accident are paid under workers’ compensation laws. Typically workers’ compensation benefits pays for about two-thirds of a worker’s lost pay while they are recovering and unable to work.
Compensation For Medical and Related Costs Typically Continues Until No Further Medical Improvement is Expected
Under the workers’ compensation laws of many states, payment for treatment continues until, in the opinion of doctors, no further medical improvement is likely. In the case of a severe burn injury, there may be a significant difference of opinion as to when this point has been reached, as those responsible for paying medical costs will likely want to terminate treatment as soon as possible. Those who are burned will want to show that treatment is necessary for medical improvement, while payors will often seek to characterize such treatment as being “therapeutic” in nature, meaning that while the treatment may be beneficial to the patient who has been burned, because the treatment is not likely to result in a medical improvement to the person burned, it is not covered under workers’ compensation laws. As a result, experienced legal counsel is often required.
Workers’ Compensation Designation of Long-Term Impairment and Disability
In many severe burn cases, the person injured will be determined to have some degree of permanent impairment, and thus be entitled to workers’ compensation payouts for such condition. For example, a person may be deemed to have partial permanent impairment in their ability to lift heavy objects. For some workers, this injury will permanently decrease their future earnings, and thus compensation is payable. In other cases, an injury may be so severe that the person is completely disabled for work purposes, in which case the person is eligible for full disability benefits under workers’ compensation laws.
No Additional Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Under most state workers’ compensation laws, there is no separate award for pain and suffering. Instead, pain and suffering are theoretically included in the compensation for suffering the injury itself.
Can I Recover from Anyone Else Who May Have Been Responsible for My Burn?
It’s important to understand that while your recovery against your employer for a burn injury may be limited by workers’ compensation laws, you are free to bring a lawsuit against others who may have contributed to your injury, such as another contractor or the maker of a defective product. Once we learn about your case, we can identify others who may be potential liable for your injury.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Severe Burn Injury?
In some workers’ compensation cases, such as when an employee sustains a broken arm at work, there is a clear benefit amount to which the employee is due. This is typically not the case with burn injuries.
Often the amount that a burn injury victim is entitled to under workers’ compensation laws will be in dispute. Similarly, the right of burn victims for continued medical treatment will often be subject to dispute. For these reasons, it’s important to have experienced legal counsel.
In these cases, an experienced burn injury attorney is often required so that those who have been burned obtain the full measure of compensation to which they are owed.
If you or a family member has suffered from a significant burn injury at work, please call our firm. We offer a free consultation, and there is no fee for us unless we are successful in obtaining compensation. Once we meet with you and understand your case, we can advise you concerning your options for recovery and how we can help.