Suffering a severe burn can be a devastating and life-changing event. After experiencing an injury, we turn to our medical providers to give us the care and attention we need to recover. Unfortunately, some medical providers fail to provide appropriate care, and a burn injury is not treated correctly. In this instance, the patient may bring a negligence claim against the medical provider, seeking compensation for his or her injuries.
A negligence claim has four separate elements that a plaintiff must prove. In a medical malpractice action, the plaintiff must first establish the standard of care. Medical providers must treat patients according to the practices and procedures that are commonly accepted within the medical provider’s geographic location and specialty in light of the patient’s conditions and demographics. During trial, each party will present expert witness testimony from a medical professional regarding the appropriate standard of care to be applied in the case. Many times, the physician who treated the patient following the medical malpractice incident will provide testimony on the patient’s behalf critiquing what the defendant did incorrectly, or explain how the defendant could have prevented the plaintiff’s burn injury.
After establishing the standard of care, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached it. A breach can occur when the medical provider prescribes the wrong medication, fails to diagnose a condition, or fails to provide timely medical treatment. In a burn treatment case, the medical provider must act quickly to preserve the patient’s surviving tissue and to thwart potential infections. Burns can also occur during medical treatments that involve electric-powered surgical equipment, or they may result from the use of certain topical medications and ointments.
Next, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Many states require a plaintiff to establish that the doctor’s failure to provide appropriate medical care was more likely than not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. This standard takes into account complications and outcomes that may have arisen due to the plaintiff’s medical conditions. Some courts have interpreted “more likely than not” as requiring the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s breach was 51 percent responsible for the plaintiff’s burn injuries.
Finally, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the damages that he or she suffered as a result of the defendant’s breach. In a burn injury, damages can include medical treatment, physical therapy, and medication. Sadly, many medical malpractice cases involving burn injuries result in disfigurement or amputations. A plaintiff can seek recovery for the pain and suffering that he or she experiences as a result of these unfortunate outcomes. A plaintiff can also recover compensation for lost wages during the time that he or she is recovering from the injury. Additionally, to the extent the plaintiff is unable to return to work as a result of the burn injury, he or she can seek compensation for loss of future income.
In many states, a victim’s close relative can seek compensation for the loss of their loved one’s companionship, services, and love as a result of the medical professional’s negligence. This claim is known as a loss of consortium claim, and it varies from state to state. Some states only allow a spouse to file a loss of consortium claim, while other states allow parents, siblings, and other close relatives to seek compensation for their loved one’s injuries.