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February 23, 2011

Third Degree Burns and Smoke Inhalation, gas explosion 3

This is the story of "D" (we will use "D" to protect her identity). "D" was severely injured as the result of a gas explosion which also injured her 3 sisters and took her mother's life. Her story is compelling, sad and heart warming. She was in no uncertain terms on death's doorstep but she endured. We (Kramer & Pollack, LLP) were there with her in the hospital through every step of her ordeal.

"D" suffered third degree burns over 70% of her body. She was hospitalized for 10 months. She had several skin graft procedures. "D" went into cardiac arrest and required advanced cardiac life support. A Tracheostomy was performed to help her breath. Her esophagus was burned b/c she apparently inhaled at the moment of the explosion. Her teeth were also burnt. She had to learn how to breathe and speak through her tracheotomy (something she found very uncomfortable). Her fingers were so badly injured that they auto amputated (parts of her fingers just fell off). She suffers from keloid scars. She was required to wear a compression mask (on her face) and a compression garment for 24 hours a day. She was unable to walk at first but with extensive rehabilitation she regained her muscle tone and she is now able to walk. She suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the explosion, the incredible pain and the loss of her mother. She was almost 5 and a half at the time of the explosion.

"D" is now in school. She has difficulty with school but she perseveres. Like her sisters, she is an inspiration to all who know her. "D" is one of the best examples of the ability of the human spirit to overcome, endure and excel.

February 16, 2011

Third Degree Burns and Smoke Inhalation, gas explosion 2

In the first installment I wrote about the devastating injuries suffered by the mother of 4 children all under the age of 5. The 4 girls were also injured as a result of the gas explosion. This is the story of one of the girls, we will call her "L" to preserve her Identity.

At the time of the explosion "L" was 3 weeks shy of her 3rd birthday. She was a vivacious and fun loving child. As a result of the explosion she suffered third degree burns on 90% of her body. She was hospitalized for almost 4 months. As a result of the explosion she suffered severe damage to the optic nerve in her right eye. Her eye was surgically removed and a prosthetic was implanted. She also became blind in her left eye. The doctors surmised that this was a sympathetic response to the injury in the left eye. She is totally blind.

"L" suffers from Keloid scarring on her hands, face and body. She also suffers from contractures. Her range of motion has been compromised due to the extensive scarring. She suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. She is afraid to sleep alone.

We, (Kramer & Pollack, LLP) immediately got the family in touch with the Jewish Guild for the Blind as well as several other organizations that welcomed "L" with open arms. The circumstances she has endured were enormously devastating. But she has a very strong will and a very positive disposition. She now reads and writes Braille. She has excelled in school. She is a poster child for overcoming adversity and although she is very young she is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

February 9, 2011

Third Degree Burns and Smoke Inhalation, gas explosion

A woman was home in her apartment with her 4 children (all under the age of 5) when an enormous explosion occurred. The fire Marshall determined that the gas line in back of the stove had corroded and cracked. Gas escaped through the crack. From a physics standpoint the concentration of gas within the apartment had to fall within a very tight parameter in order to pose a danger of explosion. If the concentration of the gas was to little there would be no explosion. Conversely, if the concentration was too great there would be no explosion.

As it turned out the family had recently moved into the apartment. They were not familiar with the neighborhood. They did not speak English and therefore they did not go out of the apartment. It had been unseasonably warm. They were using a device that blew air across ice to cool the apartment. The windows had been closed. With the windows and doors closed the gas accumulated in the apartment. Once the concentration of the natural gas in the apartment reached the combustible level all that was required was a spark. Merely turning on a light, using a cell phone or the pilot light was all that was necessary to ignite the ticking bomb.

Fortunately we (Kramer & Pollack, LLP) were retained within a few days after the explosion. We had a team of cause and origin experts in the building 10 days after the explosion. We hired investigators to canvas the neighborhood, interview tenants of the building and obtain statements of anyone with any knowledge of the incident. No expense was spared. What we found through our investigation was that there had indeed been complaints to the gas company as well as the super and management of the building prior to the explosion. We found a building tenant who said that the gas company had been in her apartment 3 times in 2 months. Despite the 3 visits from the gas company she still smelled gas in her apartment (which was 2 floors above our client's apartment).

The explosion was so powerful it knocked down walls, blew out windows and melted televisions. The mom was admitted to the burn center for treatment of her third degree burns and smoke inhalation. She was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma until she expired 3 and 1/2 weeks after the explosion.

February 2, 2011

Third Degree Burns, Stove Tipped

A family moved into an apartment that contained a free standing oven with a stove cook top. When they moved into the apartment the oven was filthy. The super of the building refused to clean the oven. An 11 year old girl decided to help her mother by cleaning the inside of the oven. Her life changed that day forever.

She opened the door of the oven and wiped down the door. She then reached into the oven to clean the inside of the oven. While reaching in she leaned on the door causing the oven to tip over. Her mother, meanwhile had been boiling chicken on the stove top. When the oven tipped, the pot of boiling water fell. The 11 year old girl suffered third degree burns on approximately 20% of her body. She was frightened and in a great deal of pain.

At first glance one might say why would the landlord be responsible for this tragic accident? Through good fortune the family retained Kramer & Pollack, LLP. We immediately set out to investigate the circumstances of this tragedy. We learned that the super of the building installed the oven. The oven, when shipped contained an anti-tip device along with instructions for proper installation. The anti tip device is essentially a small L bracket that gets mounted to the bottom of the wall and when you slide the oven into place the oven will not tip. With the bracket in place the door of the oven could support 250 lbs. The 11 year old weighed about 65 pounds. If the anti tip device were installed properly this accident would never have happened. The cost of the anti tip device about $3.79.

If you would like to read the heroic struggle and inspiring outcome as written by the now grown 11 year old just click on: Dashanda's Story

January 26, 2011

Smoke Inhalation, Not Fire, Results in Devistating Injury

A mother of 3 fell asleep, on the living room couch, with her infant in her arms. Her 2 other elementary school age children went to sleep in their room. While she slept, in the early morning hours, her 6 year old son played with either a lighter or matches. As a result the couch cought on fire. The son, petrified, ran back to his room. It did not take long for the fire to engulf the sofa and spread to the entire room. The mom woke up to a couch that was on fire and a home filled with smoke. She could not see anything (because of the smoke), but she could hear a neighbor yelling from the other side of the door. She was able to feel around through the smoke and get to the door. Unfortunately she was unable to open the door. As she made her way to the back of the apartment she was overcome by smoke. She passed out due to smoke inhalation. She was found by the fire department unconscious, near the childrens' bedroom. She was hospitalized for 2 months during which time she was placed in a medically induced coma. She suffered 3rd degree burns that were treated but the reason for the lengthy hospital stay was the fact that she suffered from smoke inhalation. The infant that she was sleeping with on the couch did not survive.

Now at first glance you might think that the landlord could not possibly have any responsibility because the fire was started by a child playing with matches or a lighter. We (Kramer & Pollack, LLP) thouroughly investigated the case and we were left with some very pointed questions. Where did the matches or lighter come from? Why couldn't the mother get out the side door? Well, the stove in the apartment would not light without using matches or a lighter. She could not open the door because months prior to the fire someone had attempted to break into the apartment through the side door. They did not break in, but they did break the lock. The mother had complained to the landlord that the stove did not work properly and that the door was inoperable. If the stove worked properly there would be not need for a lighter or matches. If the woman were able to open the side door escape would have been possible.

You can only imagine the sadness and grief not to mention the pain and suffering that the mom has endured. Even more compelling is the guilt that her son will contend with for the rest of his life.

January 19, 2011

Third Degree Burns, Smoke Inhalation, The Human Spirit

A woman awoke in the early morning hours to a neighbor pounding on her door who was screaming "there is a fire you need to get out". She jumped out of bed, grabbed her toddler and her 3 year old. She woke up her 6 year old and said follow me, we have to get out. She ran down the stairs from the 3rd floor to the sidewalk carrying the 2 younger children. When she got out of the building she put the kids down and she turned around only to discover that her 6 year old had not followed her. With the strength of a mother's love for her child, she broke free from the grasp and ignored the warnings of her neighbors as she braved the fire and ran back to her 3rd floor apartment. Her son was petrified and frozen in the kitchen.

With the fire now engulfing the stairs she and her son were trapped. She did the first thing that came to her mind. She went to the bathroom and turned on the shower. That was the last thing she remembered. She turned on the shower because she knew that the fire department was on their way and she only needed to buy a little time. Unfortunately the ceiling collapsed because of the fire and she suffered severe third degree burns. Fortunately she survived. Unfortunately her son died several days later from smoke inhalation. His funeral was held while his mother was in a medically induced coma.

As it turned out the fire was started as the result of a dispute between a drug dealer and the very neighbor who knocked on the door alerting the family. If there was any good fortune in this most horrible circumstance she retained me, Larry Kramer of Kramer and Pollack, LLP to represent her. While comforting family members at the hospital burn center, the neighbor who knocked on her door arrived with a woman claiming to be a community activist. This "activist" was nothing more than a runner trying to steer the family to an attorney that she worked for! The family wisely and firmly declined the help offered by the activist and sent her on her way.

We set out to expose the fact that this horrible situation could have been avoided. In the end we successfully recovered the entire proceeds of her landlord's insurance policy because we proved that he had the window child guards screwed into the window frame with tamper proof screws. Initially the insurance company took the position that the landlord was not responsible because the fire was started by a criminal act. In the end they acknowledged that the landlord had a responsibility to maintain a means of escape and that the landlord's actions blocked the fire escape.

January 11, 2011

I Suffered A Burn Injury, Do I Have A Case?

When someone suffers a burn injury, their immediate concern is their health, well being and what the future holds. The burn victim and their family should also consider whether or not the burns were the result of negligence. This question is best analyzed, considered and answered by a lawyer who has a considerable amount of experience in handling burn injury accident cases. One firm has a reputation of being very knowledgeable, diligent and savvy in this particular area of the law, that firm is Kramer & Pollack, LLP.. They have handled various burn cases resulting from fires, scalding water, stove tip overs, explosions, electrocutions , etc (here are some of the cases they have been involved with). They have been there for many families in the hours and days following catastrophic burns suffered by children and adults alike. They have held the hands of parents as their children lie trembling in pain in the burn unit. Their advice and guidance has been priceless and cherished by so many people.

We will ask Mr. Kramer to comment on different burn cases regarding liability or negligence. Liability or negligence means fault. In other words, Mr. Kramer will analyze different burn cases with respect to the role or responsibility other people or entities may have had which led to or could have avoided the burn injury. Most of the analysis will deal with 3rd degree burns (see also third degree burns part II).

You may think at first that the facts leading up to a burn injury are not sufficient to form the basis of a lawsuit. For example if you learned that someone was burned in a fire started as the result of a drug dispute you might think... how could the landlord be responsible. Or in another situation you may learn that a fire was started by a child who was playing with matches. If you thought in both situations that there was no case you would be wrong. These and many other cases will be analyzed in upcoming posts.

July 30, 2010

Having a Burn Injury Lawyer

Burn injury is one of the most painful experiences that a person can ever encounter. As some of these injuries result in scarring, it will remind the person of that painful experience for a long time. Some people lose their lives as a result of their injuries while for others; their lives will be changed forever.
Due to the length of the recovery process and rehabilitation, the cost of treatment, the loss of earnings and belongings and the emotional trauma, burn victims have to go through a lot. Some burn injuries are the result of negligence. Negligence is the failure to do something, or doing something in a substandard manner. The basis of a lawsuit may be a landlord's failure to provide tenants with a reasonably safe hot water delivery system, open and accessible egress from an apartment to allow escape during a fire, proper installation of gas burning appliances, as well as many other theories. It's important to consult with a burn injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation depending on the cause, severity and the extent of the injury. Hiring an experienced lawyer is important as this lawyer will explain to you your legal options and your rights.
Kramer and Pollack, LLP: (see the link) are VERY well versed in all aspects of representing burn injury victims. They have handled a multitude of burn injury cases ranging from hot water scald burns, to stove tipping cases to explosion cases. They are competent, experienced and very thorough.

I (or someone I know) have a burn injury. Do I have a case?