Knowledge base

Burn Injury Compensation Claims

Burn injury compensation

Approximately 200,000 people suffer from burns each year in Australia. Burns are also estimated to be the sixth most common cause of hospitalisation in Australia. Those most commonly affected are children, young males and the elderly.

Injured? Get expert advice now: Smith's are Queensland's only 100% risk-free injury compensation lawyers. Insist on our 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch' ® promise. Check your rights with no risk or obligations now and talk direct to our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith. Call 1800 266 801 OR  check if you can claim

Can I claim burn injury compensation?

You may be able to claim compensation for a burn injury if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings. This can can for any types of burns including those from fire, scalding from extreme heat or chemical burns. Compensation can cover factors such as loss of past and future income, medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.

I suffered a burn at work - can I claim compensation?

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

  • providing safe systems of work;
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment;
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.

Risk of burn injury working at a commercial kitchen

If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.

Note however that, weekly WorkCover payments operate under a separate ‘no fault’ scheme, meaning that you can receive weekly payments to cover lost income even if your injury was not because of your employer’s negligence.

Examples: Jeff sustains serious burns while working in a commercial kitchen when hot oil is spilled from a pot which topples off the stove top. His employer is aware that the metal rack on the gas burner is un-stable but fails to have it replaced. Jeff can claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries. 
Rick sustains flash burns to his eyes and skin while welding at work. He is supplied with long gloves and a mask, however, he fails to use them. Rick would not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

Professions at risk for burns

Electricians and risks of burn injury

Jobs at higher risk for burn injuries include: firefighters, electricians, welders, laboratory staff, farm workers, transport industry workers, riggers, hospitality staff and trades people.

See also: WorkCover claims

I suffered burns from a car accident - can I claim compensation?

If you sustain burns as a result of a road accident and the collision was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner you can claim compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer.

Examples: Jeff suffers burns when his vehicle catches on fire after a collision with a truck transporting a flammable liquid. The truck failed to stop at a red light due to issues with its brakes as they were not properly maintained. Jeff can claim compensation from the owner of the delivery truck through its CTP insurer. 
Burn injury caused by car accident
Rick suffers burns when his fuel tank explodes after he collides with a truck. The collision occurred because Rick did not look properly before pulling out onto a main road. Rick is unable to claim compensation for his injuries because the accident was totally his fault (although exceptions may apply for catastrophic accidents). If the accident occurred after July 1, 2016 he may be able to seek necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation services through the National Injury Insurance Scheme of Queensland (NIISQ).

See Also: Road and car accident injury claims

I sustained burn injuries while on someone else’s property - can I claim compensation?

Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities) have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury.  This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.

Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface or tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.

Examples: Jeff sustains chemical burns to his hands and back when he slips in his hotel bathroom and lands in a puddle of caustic drain clearing chemical left on the floor. Jeff is able to claim compensation for his injuries. 
Fire extinguisher
Rachel is sheltering from a storm under a tree in council parkland when a lightening strike hits the tree she is touching and causes burns to her hand and arm.  Rachel has no grounds to claim compensation since there is nothing the council could have done to prevent the injury.

How much compensation can I claim for a burn injury?

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.

The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time.
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury.
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater an impact from their injuries.
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries.

What can I claim for after a burn injury?

Checking what you can claim for after a burn injury

General damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your burn injury. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.

For example, a burn injury resulting in extreme facial scarring is rated 21 to 45 corresponding to a monetary range of $38,770 to $113,100 whereas burns to the scalp or hair are rated 4 to 10 with a monetary range of $5,560 to $15,350.

Medical costs

To diagnose and treat a burn injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain scans, take pain medications use special medical apparatus such as a wheelchair. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation.   You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Burn injuries may require surgery. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Burn injury recovery process

Rehabilitating after a burn injury may involve intensive therapies as well as home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you sustain a burn injury you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income.

If your burn injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation, and other skills

Loss of superannuation

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care & assistance

Serious burn injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.

In Queensland, there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation


Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any out of pocket expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

Talking to an expert personal injury lawyer

Get advice on your rights 

Request a free expert case review & chat with our senior burn injury claim lawyers by calling us on 1800 266 801, starting a live chat (icon in bottom right of screen) or requesting a call back using the form below. Durng the free consulation they will explain the claims process and assess your rights to a burn injury payout.

What time limits apply to my burn injury claim?

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

Time limits to start a burn injury claim

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

What is a burn injury?

A burn injury occurs when some or all layers of skin cells are destroyed either by a hot liquid, solid or flame. Burns may also be caused by exposure to welding flashes, ultraviolet or infrared radiation, radioactivity, electricity, or caustic chemicals.

A burn may be relatively minor or it may result in life threatening complications depending on its extent and severity. Burns are rated as first, second or third degree burns, third being the most serious and penetrating the full thickness of the skin as well as underlying tissue, muscle, bone and organs.

Common burn injuries 

Welder at risk of suffering burn injuries

The most common burn injuries include:

  • Scalds - contact with hot gas (steam burn) or liquid
  • Contact burns - contact with hot solids
  • Flame burns - contact with flames
  • Electrical Burns - current runs through the body gen erating heat upon contact with a high voltage electrical source
  • Welding flash burns - exposure of the skin or eyes to the ultraviolet light from a welding torch
  • Chemical burns - contact with a strongly acidic or alkaline substance
  • Radiation burns - exposure to various types of radiation
  • Inhalation burns - exposure to toxic fumes that cause internal burns to the sinus, throat, and lungs

Common causes of burn injuries

Burn injuries commonly arise in the following situations:

  • Kitchen accidents: Commercial kitchens and restaurants are common sources of scalds, contact burns and flame burns due to the fast paced work around gas cookers, hot liquids and hot objects.
  • Electrical malfunctions: Exposed electrical wires, water on electrical appliances, cutting a live cable, old wiring or faulty appliances can cause electrocution or fire and resulting burns
  • Explosions: The use and storage of flammable gases and liquids pose a threat of explosions at fuel stations and other workplaces.
  • Car accidents: Fire or explosion may occur following a collision if fuel leaks onto the road
  • Chemical spills: Laboratories and commercial industries that handle caustic substances must take precautions against the risk of chemical skin burns.

Potential long-term impacts of burn injuries

Medical treatment to recover from burn injury

Serious burns often require lengthy hospital stays of weeks or months. Surgery and other intensive medical treatment may be required. The healing process is often slow and painful.

Once scar tissue forms, the injuries are stabilised however permanent symptoms may remain. Where scar tissue forms over the burned areas, sweating is often inhibited due to damaged sweat glands, the skin is prone to drying out and sensations may be lost.

The psychological impact of any visible disfigurement, particularly due to scaring on the hands or face can also be significant.

Next steps: what to do if you have suffered a burn injury 

Depending on the nature of your burn injury and the circumstances which caused it, compensation may or may not be available. Our Principal lawyer Greg Smith will explain your rights and can arrange a no-obligation home visit if it sounds like we can help. Simply call 1800 266 801 or contact our offices in Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast.

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

Next steps — get advice now

It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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