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A chemical burn occurs generally to the skin and eyes when they come into contact with strong acids, alkaloids or other corrosive or caustic materials that eat away or burn skin and deeper tissue. A chemical burn may cause a reaction on your skin or within your body. If you swallow chemicals you may also sustain a chemical burn to your internal organs.
Common causes of chemical burn injuries in the workplace include:
There are some professions that are more at risk of sustaining a chemical burn injury than others. The following are some higher risk workers:
The types of claims that are generally sustained in the workplace are:
A thermal burn is a type of burn resulting from making contact with a heated source, such as boiling water or steam (commonly known as scalding burns), hot cooking oil, open flames, explosions, and hot objects.
Electrical burns occur when an electrical current travels through the body and meets resistance in tissue, resulting in heat burn injuries. Workplace Health and Safety standards require all electrical sources, high-voltage areas and machinery to be clearly marked and regularly maintained. These simple measures can assist in reducing the occurrence of electrical burns.
Gas explosions can happen where gas is stored in a single place. Caution should be taken when dealing with flammable chemicals such as gases, to prevent explosions and burn injuries to workers.
Gas explosions can cause fire and blast injuries. Flying debris from explosions can cause serious injury. Smoke or chemical inhalation can also cause damage to the lungs.
A gas explosion may also cause psychological injuries to those directly involved or anyone that witnesses the explosion. It is often possible to also compensation for psychological injuries through a workers compensation claim.
As with any workplace injury, the first step to take if you have suffered a burn injury is to seek medical attention immediately. If your injuries are sustained in the course of your work, you may be entitled to make a workers compensation claim. When you are attending your medical appointment, you will require a worker’s compensation certificate to be issued, be sure to mention to your doctor how you sustained your injuries and any work conditions that contributed to your accident.
When making injury compensation claims, medical evidence is highly regarded and essential to assisting with the burn injury compensation process. Additionally, there will be copious amounts of other evidence that is required, and reaching out to WorkCover (or your employer's insurer) and a personal injury lawyer is very important.
You should always be provided a safe work environment, including adequate and frequent training, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and support to report incidents as needed.
If you have suffered a burn injury at work, you could be entitled to make a burn injury compensation via the worker’s compensation scheme with WorkCover Queensland or a self-insurer (if your employer is self-insured). If you believe your employer has been negligent in their duty of care you may also be able to pursue a common law claim.
Speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer for further clarification in relation to your claim, even if you do not perceive negligence.
The severity of a burn injury is classified by the degree to which your skin is burnt. The classifications will assist with your medical treatment and your recovery.
First degree burns cause minimal skin damage and are considered superficial since they affect the top layer of the skin. A mild sunburn is an example of this type of burn, where the burn site is red, painful, dry and without blister. First degree burns are usually mild and burns that cover less than 10% of the body are considered minor.
The damage from a second degree burn extends beyond the top layer of the skin and can often cause the skin to blister or become extremely red and sore. For example, burning your fingers on a stove top or a hot pan. The pain experienced can range from mild to severe depending on the skin surface burned.
Third degree burns destroy both the epidermis and the dermis, and they can also go as deep as to destroy tissue underneath. These burns can appear red, black, or white. Full thickness and deep dermal burns can cause dead tissue and, in some cases, can compromise blood supply to limbs.
Fourth degree burns affect all skin layers, and there is also potential for damage to muscle, tendons and bone. Skin grafts do not work on these severe burns, so much so that fourth degree burns may require amputation if injury occurs in a limb.
Generally, burns that cover more than 10% of the total body surface area are considered a major burn injury. If you suffer a burn injury, it is extremely important to make sure that you are receiving the appropriate care. Prompt medical treatment usually reduces your risk for developing complications in addition to providing immediate relief from pain and discomfort.
Strict time limits apply when making burn injury compensation claims. You have six months from the date of your accident in most cases. You should seek legal advice as to the relevant time limits that relate to your situation.
Once lodged, WorkCover has 20 business days to inform you as to whether they have accepted or rejected your burn injury claim.
It is important to seek legal advice before you lodge a workers compensation claim. Our expert personal injury lawyers can advise you of your legal rights and ensure you include all reasonable compensation requests for your individual situation.
All burn injury claims are different, individual circumstances and the severity of your burn injuries will all factor into how long a claim may take to settle. The time in which your burns heal and the lifelong effects they may have on you, take time to eventuate along with the full impact they may have on your life going forward. When you meet with an experienced lawyer, they will provide you with a rough time estimate for the time your claim may take to settle, once they have accessed your claim. Your personal injury claim may last anywhere from a six months months to several years.
Each claim is unique and attracts different fees, and it is important to understand the ways that a law firm will charge you to run a burn injury claim. As a claim may evolve over time, and many things can change over the course of a claim, and this can drastically affect the fees payable. In Queensland, there is a 50/50 rule that does not allow any personal injury solicitor to charge more than 50% of the settlement amount in fees. This is designed to stop predatory law firms from overcharging clients.
Ensure you speak to your solicitor about fees before signing a retainer.
Sustaining a burn injury could impair your ability to work to your full capacity, could result in unexpected higher medical and rehabilitation costs and cause undue stress on yourself and your family. Successful burn injury compensation claims will take into account the following:
The compensation payout amount will depend on the severity of the burn injury, the impact it is having on your ability to work, how much treatment you will need in the future and any care you may require going forward.
In short, yes you can represent yourself when making a burn injury compensation claim. However, you may risk missing important steps or elements in the legal process and you may miss out on vital compensation you require to assist with your life going forward. Successfully representing yourself will likely involve a thorough understanding of the law, your legal rights and entitlements, and above all the time and energy to pursue the claim.
Most people making burn injury claims choose not to act for themselves and instead engage an experienced personal injury lawyer.
If you suffer injuries whilst at work, and you are looking for further information in terms of making a claim. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer a free consultation for injured people looking to seek compensation. As mentioned before, we also have a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." policy, which means you will never be out of pocket.
Get in touch with us today to give yourself the best opportunity to understand your rights.
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