2 Jan, 2023

What To Know About a Chemical Burn Injury Claim

Author Todd A. Strong
A chemical burn that turned into a rash on a senior women's foot. This is the only chemical burn picture on Istock. This picture also shows numerous other foot problems
A chemical burn that turned into a rash on a senior women's foot. This is the only chemical burn picture on Istock. This picture also shows numerous other foot problems

You might have grounds for a chemical burn injury claim if you suffered a chemical burn injury due to someone else’s negligent actions. Chemical burns can occur at work, school, salon, home, residential premises, commercial establishments, and anywhere else where hazardous chemical substances are handled. Most chemical burns result from acids and bases. Car battery acid, pool chlorination products, drain cleaner, gasoline, paint thinner, and concrete mix are some examples of products that could result in chemical burns. Individuals, manufacturers, property owners, and business owners are common defendants in chemical burn injury claims. 

Do You Have a Chemical Burn Injury Claim?

You might have a chemical injury claim if you suffered severe chemical burns because of someone else’s negligence. A valid chemical burn injury claim must demonstrate the following specific elements: 

  • The defendant had a duty of care towards you;
  • The defendant did not fulfill that duty of care;
  • The defendant’s failure to fulfill the duty of care directly caused your chemical burn injuries 
  • You suffered substantial damages due to the defendant’s failure to fulfill the duty of care. 

Building a robust chemical burn injury claim requires knowledge of your state’s negligence laws and an in-depth investigation of the incident. A knowledgeable burn injury lawyer in Illinois can evaluate the details of your chemical burn incident to determine if you have a viable chemical burn injury claim. The lawyer can dig into the incident and gather adequate evidence to prove all the claim elements. 

Causes of Chemical Burns that Give Rise to Injury Claims

Acid Chemical Burns 

Chemical burn injuries caused by acids are common. Acid chemicals can cause pain, burns, and blister when they come into contact with your skin. Highly acidic chemicals, such as those containing sulfuric acid, can leave you with permanent scars. Severe exposure to acid chemicals can cause death. 

Many types of cleaners used at work, residential properties, commercial establishments, and factories contain strong acids. Many types of batteries on products that you use daily contain powerful acids. Exposure to these battery acids can leave you with severe burn injuries.

You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses suffered if the burn occurred because of a defective product or someone else’s negligence. Household appliances, electronics, cell phones, and vehicles are examples of products that contain batteries with powerful acids. 

Base Chemical Burns 

Although bases are often recognized as the chemical opposite of acids, they can be as dangerous as acids when they come into contact with your skin. Strong bases cause severe burn injuries by reacting with oils on the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Potassium hydroxide, lime, ammonia, and cement are some strong bases that can cause chemical burn injuries. Many household and industrial cleaning reagents contain these strong bases. 

Hydrocarbon Chemical Burns  

Chemical burns can also occur due to exposure to hydrocarbons like gasoline, petroleum solvents, and petrol. Different types of household and industrial cleaning products contain powerful hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons usually damage the cell membrane and dissolve lipids when they come into contact with your skin. 

Hydrocarbons typically cause partial-thickness burns also known as second-degree burns. Prolonged exposure may, however, result in full-thickness burns. Hydrocarbons may get easily absorbed through the damaged skin and cause severe injuries to major body organs, including the lungs, heart, kidneys, and digestive organs.

Common Defendants in Chemical Burn Injury Claims

The defendants in chemical burn injury claims depend on the unique details and facts of the chemical burn incident. The specific location of the chemical burn incident and how it happened are crucial factors in determining potential defendants in chemical burn injury claims. These claims are subject to statutes of limitations, like all other types of personal injury claims. In Illinois, you have two years to file a chemical burn claim against the liable party. 

The following are common defendants in chemical burn injury claims: 

Manufacturers of Defective Products 

You can hold a manufacturer liable if you suffer chemical burn injuries from a defective product. You can do that by initiating a product liability claim against the manufacturer. You must, however, prove that you used the product properly, followed instructions correctly, and did not make any adjustments to the product that would make it dangerous. A product liability claim involving chemical burns can arise from three types of defects: 

Design Defect

This type of defect occurs when a flaw or mistake in the design of a product poses an unreasonable risk of injury to consumers. A product with a design defect remains harmful to consumers even if it is created as per the design specifications. Altering the design and manufacturing the product afresh is the only way to remove the defect. 

Manufacturing Defect

This defect occurs when a product is manufactured incorrectly and deviates from design specifications. A product with a manufacturing defect can be harmful or unfit for consumers. 

Inadequate or Missing Warnings or Instructions

A properly designed and manufactured product can cause chemical burn injuries if usage instructions or warnings of potential risks are insufficient or missing. 

An example would be buying a device that leaked battery acid and inflicted severe chemical burns on your skin. You could initiate a chemical burn injury claim against the manufacturer if the battery had a design or manufacturing defect.  

Property Owners

You could hold a property owner legally responsible for chemical burn injuries suffered on the owner’s property. To receive a reasonable personal injury settlement or compensation, you must show that:

  • You were legally on the property;
  • The owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition;
  • The owner failed to take any corrective actions or at least warn you of the dangerous condition; and
  • The owner’s negligence caused your injury. 

An example would be going to an invite-only event in a recently fumigated premises, breathing in harmful fumes, and developing severe systemic toxicity. The property owner could be held legally responsible for all the injuries sustained by all the people allowed on the property.

Business Owners 

You are entitled to compensation if you sustain chemical burns due to a business owner’s negligence. An example would be sustaining severe scalp chemical burns from an in-salon hair treatment procedure. You will need to prove that the stylist failed to take proper precautions to protect you from chemical burns to receive compensation from the salon owner or the owner’s insurance. 

Employers

You could sustain chemical burn injuries if you work in a company that manufactures chemicals or handles chemicals. The safety guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assign employers the responsibility to ensure anyone handling toxic chemical materials has adequate and proper training. Employers must also ensure employees have adequate protective gear. They must repair broken items, equipment, or machinery that could expose employees to harmful chemical materials. 

Work-related injury claims are different from nonwork injury claims. You still retain the right to pursue compensation because of your employer’s negligence, as in other personal injury cases. The difference is that you will initiate a workers’ comp claim rather than a personal injury claim. 

Under Illinois law, all companies with employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp insurance is a no-fault system. In other words, you can receive compensation for your work-related chemical burn injuries without proving negligence against anyone. You must, however, prove that you sustained a work-related injury and incurred significant damages as a result. 

Workplace chemical burns can be so severe that they result in permanent scars or disfigurement, chronic pain, and disabilities like vision loss. A disfigurement injury lawyer in Illinois can maximize your workers’ comp benefits by compiling sufficient medical evidence to build a strong claim. The lawyer can also skillfully negotiate with the workers’ comp insurer or argue your case before a workers’ comp law judge if necessary. 

Evidence for Bolstering Your Chemical Burn Injury Claim           

Pictures and Videos of the Accident Location and Injuries Sustained 

Take photos and videos of where the chemical burn incident happened. Also, take pictures of your injury immediately after the chemical burn incident and throughout the healing process. Photographic evidence of your chemical burns will help prove the nature and extent of your chemical burns. 

Your Account of the Chemical Burn Incident 

Write everything you can remember soon after the burn incident. Record names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene. Keeping a written account of your accident ensures you do not forget crucial details that can help support your claim. 

Pain Diary

A detailed pain diary can be instrumental in showing the persistent challenges and suffering you go through because of chemical burn injuries. It can also help you establish credibility on the stand by answering comprehensive questions about your injuries quickly and providing dates of events like hospital visits and treatments. 

Medical Records 

See a medical professional shortly after your chemical burn incident. Doing that will help you get your injuries treated and documented. Medical records are essential in proving your injuries, building a strong claim, and recovering compensation that covers the full extent of your damages. 

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.