Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation for a Burn Injury?
Each year, 5,000 employees are affected by serious burn injuries, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data. Additionally, on-the-job burns account for about eight percent of all burns that require medical attention. A burn injury can be claimed for Workers’ Compensation benefits. The Workers’ Compensation system allows employees to recoup the costs associated with recovery from workplace injuries. If the injured employee becomes permanently disabled due to the burn injury, the worker will likely be eligible for long-term Workers’ Compensation benefits, like permanent partial or total benefits.
However, receiving appropriate benefits for a burn injury may not happen, especially if the employee’s recovery takes longer than expected or the insurance provider denies the claim. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help an injured employee understand their rights and potentially help them receive higher compensation.
What are Common Types of Workplace Burns?
Each type of burn comes from a different source and is categorized as one of the following:
- Thermal Burn: Heat-based burns result from exposure to an extremely hot surface. These injuries are common and can happen at work or home.
- Electrical Burn: Electrical burns happen when someone gets exposed to a live electric current. The current travels rapidly through the body and may affect numerous soft tissues and organs. Although electric burns often originate from manmade sources, they can happen due to lightning.
- Chemical Burn: Chemical burns may occur in several different ways, such as toxic gas or vapor. If a chemical is inhaled, it can damage the nose, mouth, and lungs. Corrosive chemicals may come in contact with bare skin, causing mild to severe burning.
Medical personnel assess and treat burns based on their severity. A burn can be classified as one of the following:
- First-Degree Burn: A first-degree burn only affects the top layer of the skin. It requires the least attention and may be treated without a physician.
- Second-Degree Burn: A second-degree burn goes deeper into the layers of the skin than a first-degree burn. Second-degree burns may cause pain, blistering, and scars.
- Third-Degree Burn: A third-degree burn goes deeper into the body, destroying tissues and affecting nerves. Third-degree burns tend to be extremely painful and may cause permanent damage.
- Fourth-Degree Burn: A fourth-degree burn is the most catastrophic and can be fatal. A victim of a fourth-degree burn may require years of treatment, or they may never recover from bone, soft tissue, nerve, and other damage and disfigurement.
Medical Treatments for Workplace Burns
After getting burned at work, employees may care for their wounds in a number of ways, depending on how the burn happened and its type. Some of the more common types of treatments for burns include:
- Application of ointments and salves
- Covering of the burn area
- Emergency surgery
- Skin grafts
- Cosmetic surgery
- Pain management
- Physical therapy
- Psychological treatment
In some cases, a burn may require multiple kinds of treatment and ongoing attention.
Not all employees are vulnerable to workplace burn injuries. However, people working in restaurants, manufacturing plants, and emergency responder environments are more apt to get burned. There are several reasons why these workers are at risk for burn injuries, including the following:
- Restaurant workers frequently deal with hot items. These include everything from scalding water to hot plates and steaming grease.
- Manufacturing and industrial facilities are often outfitted with hot machines, raw materials, and byproducts. Electrical burns may also happen more routinely at plants where employees deal with toxic ingredients.
- Emergency responders may be called to fires, accidents, chemical spills, and explosions. Emergency personnel may be burned at the scene of a car accident or fire.
Additionally, certain workers may be at elevated risk for burns based on their gender and age. Any worker who has a burn injury should seek medical attention.
How can I Prevent a Burn Injury at Work?
An employee can lower their chance of a burn injury by taking precautionary measures, such as the following:
- Maintain and clean work spaces.
- Secure and store chemicals and flammables appropriately.
- Wear well-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
- Remain conscientious and careful around flammable or hot objects, equipment, and raw materials.
- Repair all malfunctioning or broken equipment, including frayed wires.
- Understand emergency procedures related to workplace burns.
What Should I Do if I Have an Occupational Burn Injury?
An employee who has been burned should take immediate action to protect themselves and limit further damage. For example, a worker who has been splashed in the face with a chemical will want to go to a designated eyewash station to flush out the chemical as much as possible.
Even in the case of what appears to be a minor burn, a worker should still get medical treatment. Seeing a health care professional helps document the extent of the burn. This information will be helpful when filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. A worker should not avoid going to an emergency room or doctor. Getting help is necessary to avoid long-term issues related to the burn.
A worker is expected to tell their supervisor about the burn accident so the company can initiate an accident report. An internal accident report is not the same as a Workers’ Compensation claim. The injured employee must ask for a claim form, fill the form, and submit the form promptly for consideration.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
After experiencing a first-degree burn on the job, a worker may not feel the need to contact a lawyer. On the other hand, a worker who has suffered extensive burns may want to consult with a lawyer. Workers’ Compensation insurance providers may minimize the extent of workplace burns. A lawyer can provide advice on the best way to receive the maximum amount of compensation.
New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Provide Assistance to Employees with Severe Burn Injuries
A burn injury can severely impair a victim. If you have a workplace burn injury, contact a New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr for help. Complete our online form or call us at 732-537-8570 for a free consultation. We have an office located in Highland Park, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.