Contact burns, also known as thermal burns, occur when hot objects come in contact with the skin. These burns may be caused by a variety of objects, including:
- Stoves and Ovens
- Curling Irons or Hair Curlers
- Space Heaters, Room Heaters, and Radiators
- Heating Pads
- Lamps or flashlights
Children are particularly at risk for these types of burns, in part, because children are often unaware that a particular object may be hot. By the time a child realizes what he or she has touched, a serious burn may have occurred. If your child has come in contact with a hot object due to the negligence of another individual or a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation from those responsible. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has ordered recalls of products that have been reported to cause contact-burn hazards to children or adults.
Attorney Jeff Killino has a proven record of success in fighting for the rights of children. Attorney Killino filed suit against Mattel, Inc., to force it to provide free lead testing for children whose parents had purchased certain of its toys, after learning that Mattel toys made in China were exposing children to dangerous amounts of lead. He will work with you to unravel the complexities of your case with equal dedication and vigor. If your child has sustained a contact burn as a result of someone’s negligence or a defective product, contact child contact-burn attorney Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for information regarding your legal options.
When a contact burn occurs, a burn mark resembling the hot object may appear on the skin. Additional symptoms of contact burns may include:
- Redness of the skin
A severe contact burn requires immediate medical care. A physician will examine the burn to determine its seriousness and to develop a treatment strategy. The physician may also prescribe medication, such as antibiotics, to prevent infection. In a more extreme case, a skin graft might be required.
Legal Liability for Child Contact-burn Injuries
Contact burns can be caused by someone’s negligence or the use of a defective product. Burns due to either are among the most common injuries sustained by children and many could have been prevented.
Breach of Legal Duty to Keep Children Safe from Contact Burns
Before any defendant can be found liable for injuries suffered by a child in a contact-burn incident involving negligent conduct or a defective product, the defendant must have had a duty of care toward the plaintiff and must be found to have breached that duty of care. This duty will be defined in different ways for manufacturers of products that may cause contact burns and for individuals who have undertaken the responsibility to care for a child.
Duty of a Manufacturer
The manufacturer of any product has a duty under the law to manufacture and design the product without defects that may harm or kill those who use the products. In some jurisdictions, manufacturers may also be held to possess such a duty to bystanders injured while another person is using one of its products. This same duty is imposed upon anyone in the chain of distribution of a defective product, including the seller (even if the seller was unaware of the product’s defect), the product’s assembler, the distributor, and even the advertiser in some circumstances.
Thus, a heating element in a product that is defectively designed or manufactured so that it becomes far hotter than intended, or fails to shut off when the user takes the steps prescribed in order to shut it off, may be found to constitute a defective product resulting in liability on the part of the manufacturer and anyone in the chain of distribution if the defect is determined to have been a cause of the child’s contact-burn injury. The manufacturer will be found to have breached its duty of care in manufacturing the product, in other words, and will generally be found to have breached its duty even in the absence of negligence.
Duty of an Adult Supervisor
Contact burns are often suffered by children in the absence of a product-defect when an individual or entity charged with the supervisory responsibility for a child fails to take reasonable precautions to prevent such accidents. These incidents can occur in a school or daycare setting as well as in someone’s home.
If a radiator, for example, were present in a school, daycare center, or home in which a child was present and being supervised by an adult who had undertaken to provide such supervision, a contact-burn injury suffered by the child as a result of touching the radiator may result in the liability of the supervisor and the supervisor’s employer if the supervisors inattentiveness or otherwise negligent supervision is found to have been a cause of the child’s contact-burn injury.
Causation of Injuries
Both a manufacturer (and anyone in the chain of a product’s distribution) and supervisory adult may be held liable for negligence or the design or manufacture of a defective product only if the product’s defect or the supervisor’s negligence is a cause of injuries to the child. A product may be defective, in other words, without causing an injury. Similarly, a supervisor of children may be negligent without resulting injury to a child. Neither of these circumstances is sufficient for a finding of liability on the part of either class of defendants. An injury must have occurred and the product defect or negligent actions or inactions of a supervisor must have been a cause of the specific injuries in question.
The injuries sustained as a result of contact burns can be severe, requiring lifelong rehabilitation and treatment and causing permanent, debilitating pain. Hospitalization and other medical expenses may pose considerable burdens for the average family, including those with insurance coverage.
Defendants found liable for a child’s contact-burn injuries may be required to pay damages for such medical expenses and pain and suffering, as well as other damages, including the following:
- Physical and other therapies
- Pain management
- Counseling for the continuing emotional effects of pain and disfigurement
- Repeated surgeries
- Treatments to minimize scarring and the effects of scarring
Contact-burn cases have also resulted in the assessment of punitive damages against a defendant under certain circumstances. If a defendant’s conduct rose above simple negligence to reckless or intentional behavior, punitive damages may be recoverable in some jurisdictions as a result of injuries suffered by a child as a result.
Punitive damages are sometimes recoverable from defendants in product-liability actions, as well. Such damages are intended not to compensate a plaintiff for actual losses sustained as a result of a defendant’s actions or actions, but rather to punish a defendant for egregious behavior leading to personal injury and to deter the same and similar defendants from engaging in the same sort of behavior in the future.
If your child has experienced a contact burn due to a defective product or someone’s negligence, contact child contact-burn attorney Jeff Killino at 877-875-2927 to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your legal options.