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Legal Action Following Burn Tragedies


Painful, and often requiring a long, horrendous recovery, burns impact people in a dramatic fashion. Florida, like other states in the nation, has its share of burn victims, and sadly, some have had lethal results.

  • Daisy Tapia and her son, Erik Montez, perished in a home fire that was later determined to be the result of arson;
  • During a family activity with unexpected and painful results, a St. Augustine child suffered chemical burns during a Halloween endeavor utilizing Internet instructions designed to create a green fire in a pumpkin;
  • An electrical fire caused serious injuries in two employees working on electrical issues in Jacksonville.

While not every burn situation necessitates legal action, in some circumstances an experienced personal injury attorney can help to recover costs associated with treatment, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Common Burns

There are many types of burns, including:

  • Heat burns, caused by contact with hot liquids, steam, fire, or hot objects;
  • Cold temperature burns, caused by exposure to cold, wet or wind;
  • Electrical burns, caused by lightning or electrical contact;
  • Radiation burns, caused by excessive exposure to the sun, tanning booths, or radiation;
  • Friction burns, caused by rubbing against harsh surfaces.

Burn Severity

Burns are classified into four categories:

  • First-degree: Impacting the first layer of skin, and, while painful, generally not particularly serious;
  • Second-degree: Impacting two or more layers of skin:
  • Third degree: Impacting all skin layers and most certainly requiring medical treatment;
  • Fourth degree: Impacting skin layers and muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, bones, and/or blood vessels.

A severe burn becomes more dangerous when the percentage of body surface impacted grows. In adults, burns impacting one-fifth to one-fourth of the body are treatable with fluid resuscitation and additional burn management. Burns exceeding roughly one-third of the body may be fatal.

Burns complicated by smoke inhalation and associated injuries become more complex to treat, as various types of trauma compound the treatment and healing processes.

Legal Remedies

The pain associated with burns, and the resulting treatment, can be long lasting, both physically and mentally. While financial remunerations cannot eliminate the suffering associated with a burn injury, they can reduce the frustration and worry associated with the medical bills and other costs incurred. In determining a settlement or trial verdict, several issues will be under consideration:

  • Liability: where and how the injury occurred and extenuating circumstances contributing to the incident;
  • Intentionality: arson or purposeful injuries;
  • Faulty products: defective commodities that cause harm to consumers;
  • Negligence: when someone knew, or should have known, about factors that could lead to an accident and did nothing to remedy the situation.

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious burn that might have legal implications, you want the compassion and experience of the attorneys at the office of Robert W. Elton in Daytona and Ormond Beach. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.