SF Burn Injury A Comprehensive Legal Guide

SF Burn Injury: A Comprehensive Legal Guide

Following a burn injury in San Francisco, understanding your legal rights is critical. California’s statistics reveal a stark reality: 1.5 deaths and 4.0 injuries per 1,000 fires, a figure that underscores the importance of knowing where to turn for help. Victims face the physical pain of recovery, as well as the complex journey of legal claims.

NFIRS data 2021

If you have faced a burn injury, remember that you are not alone. In this blog, we will dissect the immediate actions to take following an SF burn injury and explore the legal complexities. 

Read on to understand San Francisco’s intricate legal framework and seek rightful compensation following a burn injury.

Immediate Steps to Take After an SF Burn Injury

Immediate Steps to Take After an SF Burn Injury

After a burn injury, taking swift and proper first aid and legal steps supports your physical recovery and strengthens your legal claim. 

Here are some initial steps you should take. 

Assess the Burn Severity

  • Cool the Burn: Immediately run cool (not cold) water over the burn for several minutes. Avoid ice, as it can cause further tissue damage.
  • Remove Constrictive Clothing: Gently remove any jewelry or clothing around the burn unless it’s stuck to the skin.
  • Cover the Burn: Use a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth to protect the burn from infection.
  • Prompt Medical Evaluation: Even for minor burns, get a professional medical evaluation to assess the extent of the injury.

Document Your Injuries

  • Photographic Evidence: Take clear, well-lit photos of your injuries from multiple angles.
  • Medical Records: Request copies of all medical records and treatment details related to the burn injury.

Secure Witness Statements

  • Gather Contact Information: If anyone witnessed the incident, get their names and contact information.
  • Written Statements: Ask them to write down what they saw as soon as possible, while their memory is fresh.

Preserve Physical Evidence

  • Damaged Property: Keep any damaged personal items such as your clothing, as they may serve as evidence.
  • Accident Scene: If safe to do so, return to the scene to take pictures and note any potential hazards or contributing factors.

Report the Incident

Report the Incident

  • Fire Department: If the burn injury resulted from a fire, report it to the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) immediately.
  • Work-Related Incidents: For workplace injuries, report to your supervisor and ensure they document the incident in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) log.
  • Consumer Protection and Safety Division: If the burn injury involves consumer products, report it to California’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division.

Compensation for Burn Injuries in San Francisco

If you suffer a burn injury due to someone else’s negligence in San Francisco, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. Here’s a detailed look at what you could potentially receive.

Medical Expenses

  • Immediate Care: Compensation for emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and any immediate medical treatments.
  • Ongoing Care: Coverage for long-term care needs, including rehabilitation, physiotherapy, future surgeries, and any ongoing medical supplies.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

  • Current Lost Wages: Compensation for the income you’ve lost while unable to work due to your injury.
  • Future Earnings: If your burn injury affects your ability to earn a living in the future, you may be compensated for the reduction in earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

  • Physical Pain: Compensation for the acute and chronic pain associated with burn injuries.
  • Emotional Distress: Acknowledgement of the psychological impact, including depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Home and Vehicle Modifications

  • Accessibility: Costs for alterations to your home or vehicle to accommodate mobility issues resulting from the burn injury.
  • Assistive Devices: Expenses for equipment such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, or other devices that aid in daily living.

Punitive Damages

  • Negligent Parties: In cases of negligence, punitive damages may be awarded as a way to punish the responsible party and deter future misconduct.
  • Egregious Conduct: Typically awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions are found to be especially harmful, showing willful disregard for others’ safety.
  • Legal Standard: Under California Civil Code Section 3294, punitive damages may be awarded if a plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice.
  • Malice: Defined as conduct intended to cause injury or despicable conduct carried out with a willful and conscious disregard for the safety of others.
  • Oppression: Involves despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.
  • Fraud: Deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.

Understanding the compensation process can be confusing. If you have faced a burn injury, it’s essential to work with legal experts who can help you understand the full range of compensation you’re entitled to. The Personal Injury Center can connect you with expert personal injury attorneys in your region. We ensure that you have the support you need to navigate your legal journey.

Legal Codes Related to SF Burn Injuries

Navigating the legal landscape after experiencing a burn injury can be overwhelming. Here’s a simplified guide to some crucial legal codes that might affect your case in San Francisco, California.

Legal Codes for Burn Injuries

Statute of Limitations

California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1 sets the deadline by which a burn injury lawsuit must be filed in court. Filing after this period typically results in the court refusing to hear your case, effectively barring you from seeking compensation. In California, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Comparative Fault Rule

California Civil Code 1714 is a rule that affects compensation based on your degree of fault in the incident causing your burn injury. If you are found partly at fault for your burn injuries, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 30% at fault, your compensation would be reduced by 30%.

Product Liability 

California Civil Code Sections 1714.45 and 1792 cover injuries resulting from defective products, including those that might cause burn injuries. You can file a claim based on a defect in design, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn.

If your burn injury was caused by a defective product, these laws enable you to seek compensation from the manufacturer or seller of the product, without necessarily proving negligence.

Workplace Injuries and Workers’ Compensation 

California Labor Code Sections 3200-6002 outline the workers’ compensation system for burn injuries occurring at work. As per these codes, victims are entitled to medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and death benefits.

Burn Injury Reporting 

Health and Safety Code 1279.6 requires certain burn injuries to be reported to the local health officer. Burns covering more than 5% of the body, burns to the airway, and other specific types are reportable. This is important for compliance and public health tracking. It may also support your legal case by providing documented evidence of the severity of your injury.

How to Make a Legal Claim after a Burn Injury in San Fransisco

How to Make a Legal Claim after a Burn Injury in San Fransisco

Navigating the legal process after sustaining a burn injury in San Francisco can be complex. Below is a simplified, step-by-step guide to making a legal claim, aimed at helping you understand the key stages of the legal battle.

Filing an Insurance Claim

  • Notification: Notify the insurance company about the incident without admitting fault or providing detailed statements.
  • Negotiation: Your lawyer will handle negotiations with the insurance company, using the evidence collected to justify your claim for compensation.

Filing a Lawsuit

  • Decision to Sue: If negotiations don’t result in a satisfactory settlement, your lawyer may advise filing a civil lawsuit.
  • Process: The lawsuit starts with the filing of a complaint in court, followed by serving the complaint to the defendant.

Discovery Phase

  • Exchange of Information: Both sides exchange evidence and information through interrogatories, depositions, and requests for documents.
  • Interrogatories: Written questions one party sends to the other, requiring written answers that must be under oath, used to gather information about the case.
  • Depositions: Formal, sworn statements taken in person before a court reporter, where attorneys from both sides can ask questions, allowing parties to collect testimony and assess witness credibility.

Mediation and Negotiation

  • Mediation: Before going to trial, parties often attend mediation, trying to reach a settlement with the help of a neutral third party.
  • Continued Negotiation: Negotiations can continue, guided by the evidence revealed during the discovery phase.


  • Presentation of Cases: If a settlement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial. Both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury.
  • Verdict: The judge or jury makes a decision on liability and, if applicable, the amount of compensation.


  • Right to Appeal: If you or the defendant believes there was a legal error made during the trial, there’s the option to appeal the decision.
  • Considerations: Appeals can be lengthy and costly, so they’re typically pursued when there’s strong evidence of a significant legal mistake.

If you have been injured in a burn incident, having a skilled legal professional by your side can strengthen your legal claim. Our team at the Personal Injury Center promptly links you to experienced personal injury lawyers in your area, helping you secure the justice you deserve. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Burn Injury Claim in San Fransisco

Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Burn Injury Claim in San Fransisco

Navigating the aftermath of a burn injury involves more than just medical recovery and filing for compensation. To strengthen your legal position and safeguard your rights, here are some common pitfalls you should steer clear of. 

  • Admitting Fault Prematurely: One critical error is admitting fault at the accident scene or during initial conversations with insurance companies. Even offhand remarks can be misconstrued and used against you. Always consult with your attorney before discussing fault.
  • Neglecting Immediate Medical Attention: Failing to seek immediate medical care not only jeopardizes your health but also weakens your legal claim. A delay can suggest your injuries were not serious, diminishing your claim’s credibility.
  • Underestimating the Impact of Social Media: Posting about your incident or recovery on social media can backfire. Insurance companies and opposing legal teams might use your posts to argue against the severity of your injuries or to challenge your account of the accident.
  • Accepting Early Settlement Offers: Quick settlement offers are often less than what your claim is worth. Accepting an offer without legal advice can lead to receiving inadequate compensation for your injuries and losses.
  • Overlooking Future Damages: It’s essential not to overlook future medical expenses, ongoing care costs, and potential loss of earnings. Ensure your claim accounts for both current and future damages to avoid short-changing yourself.
  • Ignoring Mental and Emotional Injuries: Burn injuries can lead to significant psychological distress, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Failing to address and claim compensation for these non-physical injuries can result in a settlement that does not fully cover your damages.

If you’ve suffered a burn injury and feel uncertain about your next steps, we’re here to help. At the Personal Injury Center, we are dedicated to connecting you to personal injury attorneys who are perfectly suited to look over your case. Reach out to us to ensure you’re on the right path to compensation and healing.

Key Takeaways
  • Following a burn injury, it’s vital to cool the burn, remove restrictive clothing, cover the burn, and seek medical evaluation. Documenting injuries and preserving evidence is equally important for supporting your legal claim.
  • Victims of burn injuries due to someone else’s negligence may be entitled to compensation. This includes medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity, and emotional distress (etc).
  • Familiarity with California’s legal codes including the Statute of Limitations, Comparative Fault Rule, and Product Liability, is essential for navigating your claim.
  • The legal journey includes filing insurance claims, negotiating settlements, proceeding through the discovery phase, and potentially going to trial. Understanding each step, from the initial insurance claim to possible appeals, is key to a successful legal strategy.
  • Avoid admitting fault prematurely, neglecting immediate medical attention, and accepting early settlement offers.