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Burns From Car Accident: What You Need To Know

March 16, 2021 by Steven M. Gursten

Burns From Car Accident: What You Need To Know

Burns from a car accident are serious, painful injuries that frequently require extensive medical treatment including skin graft and reconstructive surgeries as well as physical therapy and pain medication. An experienced attorney can help you with benefits and compensation.


Burns from a car accident may be caused by: (1) automobile fires; (2) explosions; (3) shock injury, (4) exposure to hot metal, steam and debris; (5) deployment of the airbag; and (6) contact with toxic and dangerous chemicals.

Types of burns from a car accident

Generally, these injuries are classified by degree:

  • First-degree burns – Damage is limited to the top layer of skin
  • Second-degree burns – Damage from the burn reaches the second layer of skin, resulting in blistering and intense pain
  • Third-degree burns – Damage from the burns affects all layers of skin, causing permanent damage to tissue, blood vessels, and nerves
  • Fourth-degree burns – This type of burn damage affects all layers of the skin as well as muscle and bone


The following symptoms are common among people who have suffered from these injuries:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Too weak to stand
  • Nausea
  • Varying levels of consciousness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Faint pulse
  • Shock

Complications of burns from a car accident

Severe burns from a car accident may result in the following severe medical complications:

  • Bacterial infections that could result in sepsis (which is an infection in the bloodstream)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Reduced temperature
  • Permanent scars
  • Amputation


For serious injuries, a crash victim will be admitted to a burn center for specialized care. Treatment for burn injuries will often include: (1) skin graft surgery; (2) amputation surgery; (3) plastic/reconstructive surgery; (4) debridement; (5) physical therapy; (6) pain medication; and (7) antibiotics.

What to do if you suffered burns from a car accident

If you have suffered burns from a car accident, follow these steps:

Get treatment as soon as possible. Burns are not like other injuries and time is of the essence because of how complicated a burn injury can be. As a lawyer, one of the most important first steps is making sure a crash victim with these injuries will be admitted right away to an appropriate burn center for specialized care.

Assuming the injuries are not severe, make sure to get a referral to a surgeon, burn specialist, specialized dermatologist, and pain specialist who specializes in treating these injuries.

Talk to an experienced burn injury attorney who understands this complicated and severe injury. A lawyer can practice his entire career and never see a this type of case because these injuries are relatively rare compared to more typical injuries from an automobile crash. But a lawyer who has helped people who have been involved in severe collisions is more likely to have experience with burn injuries. I personally have probably handled more of these cases than any automobile crash lawyer I know, and the key to a meaningful recovery that will truly protect the victim is to focus on the present and on the future. That means that even though many hospitals are reluctant to treat these cases because they can be extraordinarily expensive, working with the burn centers and medical providers and insurance carriers to help my clients in the first year to three years after a trauma and protecting their future by creating a specialized medical life care plan so the money will never run out on them for their future.

As always, a lawyer who focuses on automobile crashes and who has extensive experience litigating burn injuries from motor vehicle crash cases will do a better job getting you a settlement that reflects the full value for your injuries than a generalist who is unfamiliar with this medically complex injury.

Can I make a claim for No-Fault benefits?

In order to make a claim for No-Fault benefits when you have suffered burns from a car accident you must file an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year of the automobile crash.

The No-Fault law’s “priority” rules will identify the auto insurer with which you must file your application. This auto insurance company will pay your No-Fault benefits, which cover your medical bills and your lost wages if you cannot return to work.

Can I sue for burns from a car accident?

You can always sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation as a result of your burns from a car accident.

Additionally, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for other economic damages, such as excess and future medical bills and lost wages.

If your auto insurance company refuses to pay for – or cuts-off – No-Fault benefits related to the injuries that you have suffered, then you also hire a lawyer who can bring a lawsuit for unpaid, overdue medical bills, attendant care, medical mileage, replacement services and lost wages because your injuries have prevented you from returning to work.

These injuries will almost always require some period of attendant care because of the nature of the injuries and the dramatic impact it will have on a victim’s ability to perform his or her activities of daily living. Burn injury victims can require No-Fault attendant care and skilled nursing care from home caregivers for months and even for years depending on the nature and extent of the burns and the surgeries and grafting required to treat them.

How much compensation is available for these injuries?

The amount of total compensation for burns after a car accident that you may be able to recover will depend on several factors, including whether tort claims are brought against the at-fault, negligent driver and whether they are brought against the insurance company responsible for paying No-Fault benefits. Courts will consider whether you are owed: (1) unpaid, overdue No-Fault benefits; (2) pain and suffering damages from the at-fault driver; and (3) other economic damages.

To learn more about how much compensation your case may be worth, please check our “Settlement Calculator.”

Types of compensation

Your compensation for will take several forms. If you have suffered a “serious impairment of body function,” then you can sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation. You may also be able to sue for “excess” lost wages and medical bills.

The at-fault driver who caused your automobile crash can be held liable to pay for your lost wages over and above the monthly maximum and/or beyond the three-year limit on No-Fault wage loss benefits. The at-fault driver can also be sued and forced to pay for your medical bills that exceed and, thus, are not covered by No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level in your auto insurance policy. As treatment for most burn injuries can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and as much of the cost of this medical care and treatment will exceed the PIP limits of the burn victim, it is common for a tort lawsuit to include excess economic loss for medical bills past and future.

Burns from car accident settlement

Factors that influence a settlement for burns from car accident include: (1) whether you suffered an impairment that affects your ability to lead your normal life; (2) your medical needs; (3) your lawyer’s experience, track record and reputation; and (4) the at-fault driver’s liability insurance limits.

Your choice of a lawyer will be the most important choice you can make, as an experienced lawyer who understands these complex injuries will do a better job in protecting your future. In addition, the right lawyer will always have a significant impact on your total settlement amount. Insurance companies know who the attorneys are that go to trial and who are the attorneys that don’t – and it has been shown that lawyers who are willing to go to trial and who try cases can recover up to four times more for their clients than a lawyer who always is known to settle. The bottom line is that attorneys who are known for going to trial can settle cases for money and often much faster.

Need help finding the right burn injury lawyer? Call Michigan Auto Law

If you have suffered burns from a car accident and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Contact us here to get help from an experienced attorney or you can use the chat feature on our website.

Burns From Car Accident: What You Need To Know

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