If you sustained a burn injury in Nevada, you may be able to sue the property owner or manager for negligence based on premises liability. If a defective product caused your burn, you may be able to sue the manufacturer and distributor for strict liability.
Here are five key things to know about bringing burn injury lawsuits in Nevada:
- You generally have two years after your injury to file a lawsuit.
- You can sue for compensatory damages such as medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering
- In some cases, the court can award you punitive damages as well.
- As long as you were no more than 50% to blame for your burn injury, you can still recover damages.
- If you were burned at work, filing for workers’ compensation may be your only legal remedy.
Who can I sue for my burn injury in Nevada?
Your personal injury attorney can bring negligence lawsuits against the at-fault parties whose carelessness resulted in your burn. Examples might include:
- The reckless driver who caused your motor vehicle accident;
- The restaurant where a hot drink was spilled on you;
- The hotel whose shower spewed scalding water;
- The fireworks pyrotechnic who did not take reasonable safety measures, resulting in you getting singed;
- The electrician whose shoddy work caused your kitchen fire;
- The construction company of your apartment building for failure to follow fire codes.
If your burn was caused by a defective product – such as a poorly constructed iron or gas grill – you can bring a strict product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
How do I prove liability?
It depends on your case. For instance if you were burned at a restaurant because a waiter accidentally spilled a hot drink on you, we would search for video footage of the incident and for any eyewitnesses who could testify as to what happened. Plus we would use your medical records to show that you were in fact burned.
The waiter likely has little money, so we would instead sue the restaurant under the legal principles of:
- respondeat superior (since the waiter was acting in the ordinary course of their employment at the time of the spill) and
- premises liability (since the spill happened on the restaurant’s property).
Ultimately, we have the burden to prove liability by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, that is more likely than not that the defendant caused your injuries. (This is a much lower bar than in criminal trials, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.)1
If we can show the defendant’s legal team that we have enough evidence to win at trial, they may be willing to offer a favorable financial settlement upfront without a trial.
How much money can I get?
As a Nevada burn victim, you may recover compensatory damages for:
- past and future medical expenses (such as for emergency room care, operations, cosmetic/plastic surgery, mental health counseling, physical therapy, home health care, and other medical treatments);
- lost wages;
- loss of future earnings; and/or
- pain and suffering for the lifelong emotional distress and trauma the burns are causing you (including scarring, disfigurement, and permanent impairment).
In order to calculate your projected future economic and non-economic damages such as medical bills, diminished earning capacity, and harm to your relationships, your attorney may enlist the expert testimony of medical professionals, accountants, and psychologists.2
What if I was partly to blame for the burn?
You can still win burn injury lawsuits even if you were partly to blame for your injuries (such as by not seeking medical help soon enough). As long as the court finds you 50% or less at fault, Nevada’s modified comparative negligence laws allow you to recover damages.3
Your final payout would then be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. So for instance if you sustained $10,000 worth of damages – and the court finds you 50% to blame – then you can recover $5,000 (half of $10,000).
Can I get punitive damages, too?
Most burn injury claims settle out of court. But if your case reaches trial, you can ask the court to award you punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were reckless or malicious – not merely negligent. Nevada law generally caps punitive damages at:
- Three times the amount of compensatory damages; or
- $300,000 when compensatory damages are less than $100,000.
However, there is no punitive damages cap when the burn injury results from:
- A defective product,
- Radioactive or hazardous material, or
- DUI (if the drug or alcohol consumption was willful).4
Is there a time limit to sue?
As a burn victim in Nevada, you have a two-year statute of limitations following the accident to bring a personal injury lawsuit.5
What if I got my burn injury at work?
If you sustained a burn injury at work in Nevada, you should be able to file for workers’ compensation. Depending on the extent of your injuries and whether you suffer permanent impairment, you could receive disability benefits, medical treatment, and vocational retraining.
What should I do if I was burned?
Seek medical help right away by calling 911. The longer you wait, the worse your prognosis. Meanwhile, cool the burn with cold water. And do not pop any blisters as that could lead to infection.
If you live in Las Vegas, you may be treated at the Lions Burn Care Center at UMC. If you are in Northern Nevada, you may be transported to the UC Davis Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center.
Then, call a Las Vegas burn injury attorney.
What are the different types of burns?
The types of burns are:
- Thermal burns from direct contact with open flames or hot surfaces.
- Chemical burns (“caustic burns”) from corrosive chemicals and acids such as chlorine and battery acid.
- Scalds from hot liquids or steam.
- Electrical burns from charged metals and wiring and high voltage shocks.
- Inhalation burns from breathing in smoke (which can injure eyes and respiratory organs).
- Radiation burns such as from tanning beds or lasers.
Degrees of burns
First-degree burns affect only the top layer of skin and heal quickly with over-the-counter aloe. However, these burns can be extremely painful. There is often redness, inflammation, and possibly swelling.
Second-degree burns reach under the epidermis to the dermis and may blister and scar. They are rarely deadly, but medical care is usually necessary.
Third-degree burns and fourth-degree burns damage the underlying tissue, requiring skin grafts. The open wound is susceptible to bacteria, so doctors administer silver sulfadiazine, tetanus shots and/or antibiotics to prevent sepsis. Sometimes burns reach organs or the bone.
In addition, nerve endings are destroyed in third-degree burns – so you do not always feel pain. You may be subject to long-term hospitalization and require daily wound care and gauze changes. Serious burns heal slowly and result in permanent disfigurement.6
Contact us for help…
Are you or a loved one a burn injury victim? Contact our Las Vegas burn injury lawyers for an initial consultation and legal advice. We:
- thoroughly investigate your case and gather all the possible evidence in order to craft the most airtight lawsuit possible;
- refer you to the top medical specialists who work on a lien-basis (so you do not have to pay right away) and keep detailed documentation of your records;
- aggressively negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company in pursuit of maximum compensation to cover all your expenses and more.
Whether you suffered from a minor or severe burn injury, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers are here to manage your case while you recuperate. So call our Las Vegas, NV law firm today. We take clients throughout the state, including Lake Tahoe and Reno.
- See, for example, Scialabba v. Brandise Const. (1996) Co.,112 Nev. 965, 921 P.2d 928. See, for example, Johnson v. Egtedar (1996) 112 Nev. 428.
- NRS 41.034. NRS 41A.011. NRS 41A.035; Tam v. Eighth Judicial District Court, (2015) 358 P.3d 234. Nevada Jury Instructions 10.05; BAJI 14.13.
- NRS 41.141
- NRS 42.005. NRS 42.010.
- NRS 11.190.
- Burn Incidence Fact Sheet, American Burn Association.