Burn Injury at Work Lawyer in Portland
Burns are some of the most painful and lasting injuries a person can sustain. They can lead to permanent scarring, as well as irreparable damage to the nerves and other tissue. They can leave the body vulnerable to infection. Burns can also take a long time to heal, and you may have to miss work while you recover.
If you suffer burn injuries while you’re on the job in Portland or elsewhere in Oregon, there are special benefits you may be eligible for. A lawyer familiar with burn injuries at work can help you pursue these benefits and seek the full amount of benefits you are entitled to under the law.
The law firm of Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C., is committed to protecting the rights of victims of on-the-job burn injuries in the Portland area. To schedule your free initial consultation, call our office or fill out the form on our contact page.
Types of Burns in the Workplace
The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) lists several common types of chemical burns that can happen in the workplace:
- Chemical burns – These burns occur when your skin is exposed to a strong acid or base.
- Electrical burns – Strong electric shocks can lead to burns if workers lack the proper protective gear.
- Arc or flash burns – An arc or flash burn happens when the heat from a nearby fire or explosion is enough to cause skin tissue to burn.
- Thermal contact burns – This is what you typically think of when you picture a burn injury. Thermal contact burns occur when some part of your body comes into direct contact with something hot enough to burn you (for example, touching a hot pan on the stove).
Causes of Burns in the Workplace
There are many different ways in which burns can happen in the workplace, from a coworker accidentally spilling hot coffee on your arm to exposure to dangerous chemicals. Here are a few common examples of how burns can occur:
- Firefighters being burned on the job while putting out a fire.
- Electrical burns from workers handling faulty wiring. Faulty wiring can also spark fires that lead to burns.
- Burning of the lungs and airways from inhaling toxic fumes.
- Contact burns from spilled roofing tar or other materials.
- Cooks sustaining burns from stove fires or having boiling water spilled on them.
- Auto mechanics being burned by coming into contact with caustic chemicals or solvents.
- Burns resulting from refinery fires, factory fires, mill fires, warehouse fires, and construction site fires.
- Workers in certain industries can sustain burns from being exposed to excessive radiation.
- Office workers being injured if a fire breaks out and there are insufficient sprinklers.
- Lab workers being exposed to hazardous chemicals and sustaining burns from alkaloids and acids.
- Plumbers sustaining burns from exposure to rust removers and drain cleaners.
- Outdoor workers getting badly sunburned and sustaining a burn.
Severity and Damage from Burns
There are four categories of burns, ranging from first degree (the least severe type of burn) to fourth degree (the most severe type).
Any burn should be treated immediately, even if it seems at first like a minor injury. While the burn itself can be minor, untreated burns can lead to infections and other complications that are much more serious.
Here are the four categories of burns and the damage they can cause:
- First-degree burns – These burns cause fairly minimal damage to the outermost layer of skin, though they can still be very painful. Signs of a first-degree burn include redness of the skin, minor swelling or inflammation, and dry skin peeling. First-degree burns can usually be treated with home remedies and will heal in about 7-10 days. Run the burn under a cold tap (do not use ice) and apply an antibiotic ointment to keep the burn clean. Do not cover the burn with a tight bandage or clothing, as the fibers may stick to the burn area and cause an infection.
- Second-degree burns – Second-degree burns extend beyond the outer layers of the skin, causing blisters and making the skin extremely red and sore. These blisters may burst, giving the burn a wet appearance. These burns are more painful than first-degree burns, and because the inner layers of skin are exposed, more care is required to prevent infections. Scarring is often more intense and noticeable with second-degree burns. You may need skin graft surgery to repair the damage. Some second-degree burns can be treated at home, provided you closely monitor the burn site and keep it clean. Be sure to see a doctor if you sustain a second-degree burn to the face, hands, buttocks, groin, or feet.
- Third-degree burns – Third-degree burns extend through every layer of skin, doing extensive damage to the tissue. Third-degree burns can be excruciatingly painful, but in some cases, the nerve damage from the burn is so severe that there is no pain. Depending on the cause of the burn, the skin may char, take on a waxy or white color, turn brown, or take on a raised or leathery texture. Blisters develop in some cases, but not in others. Scarring is severe and most likely permanent with third-degree burns and will often require skin graft surgery to correct. If you sustain a third-degree burn, do not try to treat it yourself. Call 911 immediately. Third-degree burns place patients at severe risk of infection and require special care. They can also be fatal.
- Fourth-degree burns – Fourth-degree burns are similar to third-degree burns, except the damage continues beyond the skin to tendons and bones. As with third-degree burns, these burns do permanent damage and can be fatal.
Can I Get Compensation for My Burn Injuries?
If your burn injury happened while you were on the job, you can file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer to cover some of the losses related to your injury. Benefits typically include coverage of all related medical bills and partial replacement of lost wages if the injury forces you to miss work.
In Oregon, workers’ compensation is based on a no-fault system. The amount you can claim from these benefits may not cover the full extent of your losses, such as your pain and suffering.
Another potential way to seek compensation for your injury is to file a third-party claim against the responsible party, assuming it was someone other than your employer or a co-worker. If you can demonstrate a third party was responsible for your burn injury due to negligence, they could be held liable for additional damages. In a successful negligence claim, you may be able to claim compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental distress
Who can be held liable for your injury will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, there may have been a defect with a piece of machinery that caused an explosion, or a subcontractor on a job site may have failed to take proper precautions to avoid exposing workers to hot substances.
An experienced burn injury attorney can review your case to see who may be liable for your injury and what compensation you may be eligible for.
Contact a Burn Injury Lawyer Today
If you’ve sustained a burn injury while you’re on the job, you have enough on your mind without having to worry about getting into a potential legal battle with your employer on your own. Instead, let the team at Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C., fight on your behalf while you focus on getting well again. Workers’ compensation claims or third-party claims are complicated legal matters, but our experienced team will be there at every step along the way.
We can help you file your initial workers’ compensation claim, handle the appeal for a denied or undervalued claim, file a third-party personal injury claim, and negotiate a settlement, should your claim prevail. Our firm has more than 20 years of experience handling work injury cases, and we want to bring that experience to your case.
If we take your case, you won’t have to pay us any attorney fees upfront or out-of-pocket. Even your initial consultation is free. This gives everyone a chance to make sure their rights are upheld, and the responsible party is held accountable for their actions.
Whether you’re ready to file a claim or just want to have your questions answered, we’re here to help. To set up your free initial consultation, call us or fill out the form on our contact page.