According to the American Burn Association, more than 400,000 people are treated for burn injuries each year. Statistics of burn admissions to burn centers during 2005-2014 show forty-three (43) percent of admission was caused by fire/flame, and nine (9) percent of admission was caused by contact. Additionally, seventy-three (73) percent of burns occurred at the burn victim’s home.
Fire pit injuries can occur from caring for the bonfire incorrectly, sitting or standing too close to the fire, or having the bonfire in an unsafe location. For example, in 2018, a bonfire explosion occurred in Glendale Heights, Illinois, because the teenagers involved threw gasoline on the flames while others were walking around the fire. The teenagers suffered severe burns, and some needed medical attention. These events can cause severe injuries and burns which can sometimes result in the need for medical attention, including plastic surgery and skin grafts.
Cookout injuries can occur from home grill fires. For example, in 2020, in Naperville, Illinois, there was a residential fire that was caused by improperly disposed grilling materials. The fire spread from the exterior of the home into the attic which also caused damage to the interior of the home. The home was deemed uninhabitable.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 10,600 home fires are started by grills each year, with July being the peak month for grill fires, followed by June, May, and August. In twenty-nine (29) percent of home grill fires the grills were not cleaned. In addition, 19,700 patients go to the emergency room per year because of injuries involving grills, including 9,500 involving thermal burns. A thermal burn is a burn that results from an external heat source. This can be in the form of a naked flame, scald from steam, hot liquid, or from direct contact with a hot object. Thermal burns may require medical attention and may have long lasting effects on your body.
Firework-related injuries can be the result of negligent and reckless behavior. For example, in July 2020, a woman and a child were seriously injured by exploding fireworks in Chicago, Illinois. They were both taken to the hospital and listed in serious condition. Under Illinois law, it is illegal to use fireworks, but that does not prevent people from purchasing them and using them.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with firework-related injuries in the month around the 4th of July holiday. According to their 2019 Fireworks Annual Report, an estimated fifty-eight (58) percent of firework-related injuries were burns. These injuries may require medical attention and can sometimes lead to death.
What do I do if I’ve been burned?
It is crucial to speak to a personal injury attorney if you have been burned due to someone else’s actions, or if you have been burned because of a faulty product. In Illinois, if you are injured due to an accident that is not your fault, but the fault of another, you may be able to sue them for negligence and reckless behavior and recover compensation. In order to bring a successful negligence claim, you must prove the four (4) elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages. The defendant needs to have had a duty to act with care towards you, and the defendant needs to have breached this duty. Additionally, you need to show the defendant’s action caused your injury and/or burn you are seeking damages for. For example, in Bell ex rel. St. v. Bakus, a child was burned when his shirt caught on fire as he walked past the stove in the kitchen of his apartment. 16 N.E.3d 819 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2014). His mother, on her son’s behalf, brought a claim of negligence against the owner and manager of the apartment. Id. The court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff showed that the placement of the stove could have proximately caused his injuries. Id. at 827.
Additionally, burn injuries can also happen in the workplace. In Dillon v. U.S. Steel Corp., the plaintiff was injured and burned at work, and brought suit against the steel company he was working at. 511 N.E.2d 1349 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 1987). While the plaintiff was working and cutting into an object, the object erupted, and steel was spewed across the room. Id. at 1352. The plaintiff was in the hospital for forty-eight (48) days and suffered burns to his face, left ear, stomach, hands, chest, arms, back, and legs. Id. at 1355. The court ruled that the steel company owned the worker a duty to provide him a safe place to work, and it breached that duty. Id. at 1349.
If you have been burned due to a manufacturing defect or a design defect, you must establish: (1) a condition of the product that results from manufacturing or design; (2) the condition made the product unreasonably dangerous; (3) the condition existed at the time the product left the defendant’s control; (4) you suffered an injury; and (5) the injury was proximately caused by the condition. Salerno v. Innovative Surveillance Tech., Inc., 932 N.E.2d 101, 108 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2010). If you have been burned because the product failed to warn you it was dangerous, you must demonstrate that the manufacturer did not disclose an unreasonably dangerous condition or instruct you on the proper use of its product. Id. at 109.
For example, in Hayes v. Kay Chem. Co., the plaintiff was a restaurant worker and brought claims against the manufacturer of a grill cleaner, alleging she suffered severe and permanent burn injuries when she picked up a towel and used it to clean her arms and hands without knowing it was wet with grill cleaner. 482 N.E.2d 611 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 1985). The court ruled that a claim was stated when the plaintiff alleged the manufacturer was negligent, and that the product was defective due to a failure to warn the product should not be soaked in cloth. Id. A claim was also stated when the plaintiff alleged the manufacturer failed to take reasonable precaution to identify their product to decrease the risk of it being mistaken for something else. Id.
How long do I have to bring this lawsuit?
In Illinois, you have two (2) years from the date the injury occurred to bring a personal injury claim. 735 ILCS 5/13-202.
If you have been injured or burned while participating in a summer activity and believe that your accident was caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, we at Sherwood Law Group may be able to help you. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will thoroughly evaluate your case and get you the compensation that you rightfully deserve for your injuries. All consultations are absolutely free. Contact Sherwood Law Group at 312.627.1650 or firstname.lastname@example.org.