Lawsuits can be filed for a variety of reasons. In legal speak, the basis for a lawsuit is called “grounds.” Grounds for a lawsuit range from disagreements over intellectual property rights to a wrongful death suit. There are even lawsuits against video game companies for making inferior products.
Most often, we imagine a person filing a lawsuit for damage that was done. That damage could be physical or financial. For example, people can sue the owners of a property they were hurt on; or someone who was conned can sue to have their money repaid.
If you’ve been the victim of a burn injury, and you are looking for compensation, it may be difficult to determine the grounds for your lawsuit. Simply saying, “I got burned” isn’t enough to sue. The burn itself isn’t the important part of the lawsuit. What matters is how you got burned and who was responsible. Your burn injury could be used as the basis for a number of potential lawsuits.
Depending on where and how you were burned, your grounds for a lawsuit will likely be:
- Premises Liability
- Product Defect
- Assault and Battery
Burns and Premises Liability
Premises liability lawsuits are used when you have been hurt on someone else’s property. We often hear about slip and fall lawsuits. These are premises liability cases, where the plaintiff sues the defendant for creating a dangerous environment. Dangerous environments are the key to a premises liability case.
Your burn must be the direct result of the property owner’s negligence. For example, if there were an exposed hotplate at a store, you could sue the owner or manager for your burns. Business owners are legally expected to take the highest degree of care for their customers, as customers are the very reason for the store’s existence.
In a private residence, you can sue the homeowner for your burn injuries. A situation like this is a bit more nuanced in a premises liability case. Homeowners are not expected to take meticulous care of their visitors, but they do have a responsibility to make you aware of dangers in the home. Let’s say you were burned on the stove. You were cooking and burned yourself reaching for the wrong item. In that case, it would be difficult to claim that the homeowners harmed you through negligence. However, if they didn’t tell you that the stove was prone to occasionally spitting out flames, your injuries may be their fault.
Burns and Product Defect Lawsuits
Sometimes your burns are not the fault of another person; they are the fault of the product itself. When a malfunction causes a burn, you may have grounds for a product defect lawsuit.
For product defect suits to be successful, you must prove at least one of these three claims: manufacturer error, design defect, or improper labeling.
Manufacturer error is when a product was made incorrectly. Perhaps pieces were put together poorly, or part of the product simply didn’t work. Recently, many electric cars with LG Chem batteries were recalled for catching fire. There was an imperfection in the batteries that caused them to overheat. This is a clear example of a manufacturer error. Obviously, no one meant for these batteries to catch fire; they were constructed incorrectly.
A design defect is the result of a product’s development and engineering. All products in the line will have the same problem because it was designed incorrectly. It works exactly as it should, but there was an oversight in how the product may harm someone. Imagine a motorcycle where the engine protrudes too far, and many riders burn their legs on it. This is a design flaw.
Finally, product defects can be the result of improper labeling. When consumers have a reasonable expectation that the product will not cause them harm, the manufacturer has a responsibility to label the product correctly. Perhaps there is a brand of butane lighters that overheats when used for too long. Users of this lighter would not expect to burn themselves on the handle, so it is the company’s responsibility to label the handle, making the user aware. A lack of proper safety labeling is grounds for a product defect lawsuit.
Burns and Assault Lawsuits
Perhaps your burns are the result of someone who meant you harm. Assault is a criminal offense, and it should be tried in criminal court. Abusers can also be sued, whether they were convicted in criminal court or not.
In civil court, someone who directly sets out to harm you can be sued for a “tort.” One benefit of a civil case is that you need only a “preponderance of evidence” to prove a tort. If you can convince the judge that there is at least a 51% chance that the defendant is guilty of causing you harm, you can win your case. This is in direct contrast to a criminal court, where juries must be convinced “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty.
There are many possible assault torts, such as battery causing bodily injury; assault with a deadly weapon; domestic violence; and much more. Tell a lawyer the details of your attack, and they can help narrow down the best grounds for your lawsuit.
If you’ve been the victim of a burn injury, we want to help. Call us today at (843) 968-0886, or contact us online, and let us evaluate your case.