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Burn Injury Lawsuits: Defective Products – Settlements

Burn Injury Lawsuits: Defective Products – Settlements

In this article, we’ll break down the following:

When you buy a product, you expect it to work. You expect it to be safe. What you don’t expect is to end up in the hospital nursing severe and, sometimes, life-threatening injuries from using it. Unfortunately, that is the reality some people have to contend with.

When a product malfunction causes you to sustain injuries, the designer, manufacturer, or distributor should be held accountable for your damages. Florida has strong laws designed to protect victims of malfunctioning products.

If you have sustained burn injuries from what you believe to be a defective product, you are entitled to damages. Here’s everything you need to know about burn injury lawsuit settlements.

Defective Products and Burn Injuries

Defective commercial and household products can cause serious burn injuries. Some of these injuries can be life-threatening, resulting in permanent disfigurement, exorbitant medical bills, and the physical and psychological anguish associated with these injuries.

Most consumer products have strict federal regulations concerning flammability and testing. For instance, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) requires manufacturers of hazardous household products to display warning labels on product containers.

The labels should contain information on the potential hazards associated with the product and the steps consumers can take to mitigate harm. The FHSA also bans the use of flammable materials in children’s clothing.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) makes it mandatory for all articles of clothing manufactured in the country to pass the stipulated flammability tests. The same flammability standards apply to mattresses. The CPSC requires mattress manufacturers to use materials that minimize the risk and severity of mattress fires caused by lighters, matches, candles, and other open flame sources.

Types of Defective Products That Can Cause Burn Injuries

Below is a list of common defective products that can cause burn injuries.

  • Boilers, space heaters, and furnaces
  • Camping equipment
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • E-cigarettes and vaping devices
  • Electric blankets
  • Electronics with faulty wiring
  • Flammable clothing
  • Kitchen appliances such as stoves and kettles
  • Lawnmower gas tanks
  • Lithium-ion batteries and battery-powered electronics

When a product is discovered faulty, it should be recalled from the market. However, this isn’t always the case. It also doesn’t stop people who have already purchased the product from sustaining burn injuries. Unfortunately, it takes multiple injury reports from consumers before manufacturing firms recall a faulty product.

Common Causes of Burn Injuries From Defective Products

Burns from defective products typically fall into one of three categories based on what caused them.

Thermal Burns

The majority of reported burn injuries fall into this category. Thermal burns stem from direct heat sources such as fires, explosions, hot steam or liquid, and contact with hot metal, glass, or other extremely hot objects.

A burn injury may result from a defective product that overheats, reaching higher-than-normal temperatures or is made from flammable material when it shouldn’t be. For instance, lithium-ion batteries like those in smartphones, vaping pens, and hoverboards tend to overheat and explode, potentially causing serious burns to the end user. Similarly, defective fireworks that go off prematurely can cause severe burn injuries to bystanders.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burn injuries are caused by electrocution. While most incidents occur the same way as thermal burns, they are more serious. They can lead to other complications, including seizures, hearing and vision loss, bone fractures (from falling), breathing complications, numbness, and cardiac arrest.

Electrocution can occur due to poorly grounded energized equipment, inadequately insulated power lines, faulty wiring, or faulty power outlets.

Chemical Burns

Household cleaners and other harsh chemicals can cause serious burn injuries to individuals who come into contact with them. Some common products capable of causing chemical burns include:

  • Ammonia
  • Battery acid
  • Bleach
  • Chlorine
  • Nail, hair, and skin products
  • Teeth whitening products
  • Toilet bowl cleaners

Airbags are another common source of burn injuries most people seem oblivious to. Airbags inflate due to a rapid chemical reaction triggered when a vehicle’s crash sensor is activated in an accident. Heat is a byproduct of the reaction and can cause second and third-degree burns to the arms, chest, and thighs after the airbag deploys.

Liability in Burn Injury Cases Caused by Defective Products

There are three main types of product liability lawsuits you can lodge in burn injury cases caused by defective products:

Defective Design

Sometimes, burn injuries result from poorly designed products. A defective design is an error in the product’s basic blueprint, making the item inherently dangerous to use.

An example of a defective product design is a lithium-ion battery that overheats while charging, with no built-in capability to cut off the power supply once its internal temperature reaches a certain level.

Defective Manufacturing

A defectively manufactured product results from an error in the manufacturing process. A flaw might go unnoticed during production, and the affected products may end up on the market. Consumers who purchase these defective products may suffer harm as a result.

An example of a defect in the manufacturing process is an electric blanket that catches on fire while in use. The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring products undergo rigorous quality control checks before releasing them to the open market.

Defective Marketing

Manufacturers must warn end users of the potential hazards their products pose to consumers. They are also required to provide detailed instructions on how to use the products correctly and safely to protect them from avoidable injuries.

For instance, a space heater should come with a label warning users to keep it a safe distance away from things that could ignite, such as bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and clothing.

Examples of Products That Caused Burn Injuries

Defective Lithium-Ion Batteries / Battery-Powered Electronics

  • A cell phone exploded as the user installed a software update. The victim suffered burn injuries to his wrist.

Faulty Kitchen Appliances and Equipment

  • A consumer used the self-clean function on their built-in double oven when the glass exploded, burning their wood-finished floor.
  • A user was cooking an egg in a frying pan when they burned their finger on the exposed metal between the rim and the insulated handle.
  • An individual was baking a French pastry in a pan marketed as “leak-proof.” As they removed the pan from the oven, blistering hot butter leaked from the sides onto their right thigh and lower limb, causing first and second-degree burns.

Settlements in Burn Injury Lawsuits for Defective Products

“Settlement” refers to the payout issued to the injured victim (plaintiff) in a lawsuit. The money is supposed to compensate the aggrieved party for losses incurred as a result of the injury and to punish the at-fault party for their wrongdoing.

In personal injury claims, a judge or jury can order damages after a verdict is entered in favor of the plaintiff. The actual dollar amount the claimant receives in compensation is the settlement.

If you have suffered burn injuries due to a defective product, you must come up with an accurate estimate of your damages at the beginning of your lawsuit. Doing this ensures that you come away with the full value of your claim.

According to the CPSC’s Revised Injury Cost Model, the mean settlement jury award for injury claims involving small kitchen appliances is $404,062. Cases with a separately stated medical loss claim are typically awarded a mean settlement of $16,127.

The predicted pain and suffering jury award for burn injury lawsuits is $103,500, while that of medical and work loss is $15,000. That said, these settlements are not set in stone. The compensation you’re entitled to will vary based on the severity of your injuries and other factors.

Factors That May Influence the Amount of a Settlement

Burn injuries generally result in higher-than-average settlements due to the magnitude of the physical pain, suffering, and emotional anguish involved. With that in mind, several factors come into play when determining the settlement value. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The severity of the burn injuries
  • The amount of medical treatment required
  • The impact the injuries have had on your quality of life
  • The cost of retaining full-time help if you’re unable to perform household tasks like you used to
  • Your ability to work
  • The strict liability or negligence of the at-fault party

The precise value of these economic losses is hard to ascertain. No one can accurately predict the victim’s total cost of future medical treatment or how much income they would have earned had they not been injured. However, an experienced product liability attorney can assess your injuries and damages and estimate a suitable settlement amount.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Accepting a Settlement

When both parties in a lawsuit agree to resolve their issues out-of-court without going through a trial, this process is called settling. The at-fault party will usually offer a settlement to the injured party. The amount is usually less than the initially requested sum.

Accepting an out-of-court settlement has its fair share of benefits and drawbacks. Here’s an overview of some factors to consider.

Pros of Accepting a Settlement

  • Saves time: You don’t have to wait several months or years to recover damages.
  • Guarantees compensation: Your payout is guaranteed without going through the court process.
  • Reduces costs: You don’t have to spend a significant portion of the settlement money on litigation expenses, attorney fees, expert witness fees, and other court incidentals. Should you go the court route and lose the case, you would also have to foot the defendant’s expenses.
  • Maintains your privacy: When you go to court, all your details, as well as that of the case, become public. People will get to know what happened and the damages you’re seeking.

Cons of Accepting a Settlement

  • You may receive a lower settlement: If you’re not represented by a competent attorney who knows how to play hardball with big corporations, you may get a raw deal.
  • You cannot pursue further legal action: Once you agree to a settlement, you forfeit your right to pursue further legal action against the defendant.
  • You may be dissatisfied with the outcome: Out-of-court settlement amounts are usually lower than the amount a jury would have otherwise awarded you in a trial. There’s also the fact that the at-fault party might walk away scot-free without admitting guilt or wrongdoing.

Florida Case Law on Burn Injury Claims

If you sustained burn injuries from a defective product, you could sue the manufacturer, designer, or distributor on the legal theory of strict liability. It means you don’t have to prove negligence on their part. The presumption is that they did something wrong based on the existence of the defective product.

To prove a burn injury claim on a strict liability premise, you must show that:

  1. There’s a relationship between the manufacturer, designer, or distributor and the injurious product;
  2. The product had a defect;
  3. The defect made the product unreasonably dangerous for its intended purpose; and
  4. The defective product was the proximate cause of your burn injuries.

You can also sue the manufacturer, designer, distributor, or any other third party for negligence. To prove your claim, you would have to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to you and that they breached that duty, thereby causing your injury.

Florida Case Law Related to Burn Injuries Caused by Defective Products

Elias v. Evenflo Company, Inc., Case No. 5:04-CV-36-OC-10GRJ (M.D. Fla. Jul. 8, 2005)

Issue: Plaintiff Mindy Elias brought strict liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, fraud, and misrepresentation actions against car seat manufacturer Evenflo Company, Inc. In her claim, Mrs. Elias alleges that a car seat she purchased for her then two-year-old son Aiden Elias, manufactured by the defendant, caused second and third-degree chemical burns to his thigh and buttocks.

Result: The court found that the defendant was entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claims for negligence, breach of implied warranty, fraud, and misrepresentation. However, it denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the strict liability and breach of express warranty claims.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky: Background

Alan Sackrin and Larry Tolchinsky have over six decades of experience representing clients in arbitration, civil litigation, appeals, and mediation matters. The firm’s practice areas include:

  • Catastrophic car accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Slip and Falls
  • Insurance claims/denials
  • All other serious personal injury claims

We provide our clients with the best possible legal representation to get the best possible outcome for fast and fair resolutions to their legal issues.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky’s Experience as Injury Claims Lawyers

Alan Sackrin’s extensive trial skills and courtroom experience with juries set him apart from other product liability attorneys in Florida. He has successfully litigated complex cases against large corporations and helped victims recover the compensation they deserve.

One of Alan’s notable settlements was a $500,000 recovery for a woman who sustained life-threatening injuries while at the intersection of a car accident. He and his team of competent attorneys worked tirelessly to secure this significant six-figure compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries in a case many attorneys would have considered hard to win.

Get Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered burn injuries from what you consider to be a defective product, speak to a product liability attorney as soon as you can.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky attorneys have extensive experience representing burn victims of defectively manufactured products. They have the knowledge and expertise to help you prove your case and get the settlement you deserve.

Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation to discuss the specifics of your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it typically take to reach a settlement in a burn injury case?

The time it takes varies from case to case. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year (sometimes more) depending on:

  • Whether the defendants and/or insurance companies are willing to enter into settlement negotiations;
  • Whether the litigation process rules and procedures define dates by which certain items should have been filed;
  • The duration of the discovery and deposition process;
  • Whether the burn injury victim has recovered enough to participate in the lawsuit.

How long do I have to file a claim for a burn injury caused by a defective product in Florida?

The statute of limitation for product liability cases based on strict liability is 4 years. For product liability cases based on negligence, please call us to discuss your case, as a recent statutory change in the law has caused uncertainty to the limitations period.

What should I do if the settlement offer is not enough to cover my medical expenses?

If you feel the settlement offer is too low and won’t be enough to cover your present and future medical expenses and lost income, don’t sign off on the settlement. Consult an experienced product liability attorney first to discuss other legal avenues you can use to recover the compensation you deserve.

Can I still file a lawsuit if I have already accepted a settlement offer?

Generally, no, you can’t. By accepting a settlement offer, you waive your right to sue the at-fault party. You will likely be required to sign an agreement releasing them from further liability related to your claim at any point in the future. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your recent settlement.

What is the average burn injury settlement amount in Florida?

According to the CPSC’s Revised Injury Cost Model, the mean settlement jury award for injury claims involving burn injuries is upwards of $103,500 for pain and suffering. This amount does not include economic losses such as medical costs and loss of income. Settlement amounts also depend on the severity of the victim’s burn injuries.

What damages can be claimed in a burn injury lawsuit?

Burn injury settlements take into account the victim’s physical, emotional, and financial damages and may include the following:

  • Present and future medical costs
  • Loss of future income and benefits
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Residential or in-home care
  • Therapy and rehabilitation
  • Wrongful death

Do You Have A Question? Call Alan Sackrin Today For a Free Case Evaluation

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40+ years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert civil trial lawyer about your product liability case, call Alan at 945-458-8655.