Could Your Landlord Be Responsible for Your Burn Injury?

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By Marcus Fernandez

National Burn Awareness Week offers an opportunity to take a look at the cause of more than 486,000 people seeking medical treatment last year. Injuries associated with burns can be devastating. The physical and psychological injuries can require a long and difficult course of treatment. If you are a tenant and suffer a burn injury due to the negligence of your landlord, you could have a right to seek compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages you incur.  

Some facts about burn injuries

Burns are painful and debilitating injuries causing blistering, scarring and swelling in the affected area. Serious burn injuries can cause a person to go into shock or die. Your skin serves as a protective shield against bacteria, so the damage caused by a burn injury can make you susceptible to serious and potentially life-threatening infections.      

The severity of burns is measured according to the depth of penetration of the damage and the size of the area of the body affected by it. The following are the three types of classifications frequently used by health care professionals:

  • First-degree burns: Damage is restricted to the outermost layer of skin, the epidermis. These are generally minor injuries that might not require medical treatment. Reddening of the skin and minor pain from sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn. 
  • Second-degree burns: Damage goes deeper than the epidermis and affects the next layer of skin known as the dermis. Second-degree burns are serious and require medical attention. They can cause scarring and, in some cases, require a skin graft to protect against infection while the injury heals. 
  • Third-degree burns: Damage extends beyond the epidermis and dermis into the underlying tissue. 

Other degree classifications are used for burns that cause damage to fat, muscle or bone. Serious burn injuries could require specialized treatment methods only available at hospitals with burn centers having the staff and equipment capable of treating them.

Things that can cause a burn injury

Some of the most common causes of burns include:

  • Fire or flame 
  • Scalding caused by hot liquids or steam 
  • Hot objects 
  • Electricity 
  • Chemicals 

If you are a tenant, there are a number of ways in which you could suffer a burn injury within your apartment or home, including:

  • Overloaded electrical circuits or outlets 
  • Faulty electrical outlets and switches 
  • Frayed electrical wiring 
  • Defective or poorly maintained water heaters 
  • Defective or improperly maintained furnaces 
  • Defective or improperly maintained air conditioning equipment 
  • Defective appliances, including stoves and refrigerators 
  • Improperly vented clothes dryer 

Smoke detectors that do not function properly or blocked emergency exits in apartment buildings can contribute to the severity of injuries suffered by occupants who are not given warning of a fire or who cannot escape to safety.

Responsibilities of landlords 

Renting a place to live in Florida creates a legally enforceable agreement between you and the owner of the property even if it is not in writing. This rental agreement imposes obligations on both the landlord and the tenant. One of the obligations imposed by state law is for a landlord to ensure that the rental property is safe and complies with state and local laws and building, housing and health codes.  When there are no codes or local laws, landlords are required to keep the structural components in good working condition. 

Among the legal requirements imposed by state law is that a landlord must install a smoke detector that is working at the time a tenant takes possession. It recognizes the fact that landlords have no control over what a tenant does once the keys are handed over. It also recognizes the obligation of the landlord to ensure smoke detectors are installed and operating at the start of the rental. 

Damages associated with burn injuries

A person suffering a burn injury could be facing a long period of medical treatment and rehabilitation that could include:

  • Skin grafts 
  • Plastic surgery 
  • Respiratory rehabilitation 
  • Treatment for infections and secondary conditions caused by the burns 
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy 

Severe burn injuries can cause psychological trauma requiring treatment by mental health professionals. Recovering from a serious burn injury is a long and painful ordeal that could prevent a victim from returning to work and normal day-to-day activities for an extended period of time. Some burn victims never fully recover from their injuries.

If the negligence of a landlord is proven to be the cause of a person’s burn injuries, damages recoverable in a lawsuit include:

  • Medical expenses 
  • Rehabilitation and therapy costs 
  • Lost wages 
  • Lost or diminished future earnings due to disability 
  • Pain and suffering 

Get help from a Florida personal injury lawyer

A tenant suffering burn injuries needs the help of Florida personal injury lawyer. Attorneys who devote their practices to personal injury law understand what the law requires to prove liability in burn cases to ensure the victim receives the maximum compensation. Contact our team for immediate help with your case today.