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New York Apartment Burn Injuries: When is the Hot Water in Your Apartment Too Hot?

Approximately 45,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for the treatment of severe burns, according to the American Burn Association. Tap water scalding injuries have been cited as the most common cause of serious burn injuries, especially among children. The results of a burn can be extremely painful and expensive to treat. For many people, they require admission into specialized burn units of hospitals, as well as prolonged and costly medical care.

Burn injuries can be especially problematic because they are slow to heal, may require surgery (skin grafts, debridement or reconstruction surgery), prone to infection and leave permanent scarring (keloid scars or contracture scars) and disfigurement. There are different levels of burn injuries, consisting of 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree burns. Both 2nd and 3rd degree burns can be caused by exposure to scalding hot water for mere seconds.

Examples of accidents that cause scalding injuries include (1) defective hot water faucets; (2) sudden and unexpected scalding hot water from the tap; (3) defective boilers and (4) poorly maintained boilers and hot water heating systems.

The landlord and building management have a responsibility to maintain their buildings in a safe condition. This includes maintaining the boiler and hot water heating systems of the building. Additionally, they have to maintain the fixtures inside the individual apartment buildings which includes making sure the bathroom and kitchen faucets (and other fixtures) work properly. Many of the tragic and painful burn injuries could have been avoided if proper precautions had been taken and maintenance performed of the boilers and heaters. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious burn injury or hot water scald injury because of another’s negligence, you should contact a New York burn victim personal injury attorney.

Recent Case that Illustrates Leav & Steinberg, LLP’s Effectiveness in Handling Burn Injury Cases:
$900,000 settlement: Infant 9 month-old girl scalded while being bathed by her mother. The infant girl sustained 2nd degree burns of more than 75% of her body, requiring hospital admission for two weeks, debridement and subsequent physical therapy. Defense counsel claimed the infant’s scars would dissipate. The attorneys for the landlord and manager of the building contended the hot water heating system was not defective and that they complied with all relevant codes. Defense counsel moved for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the plaintiffs’ case on these arguments. Plaintiffs’ counsel successfully defeated the motion by showing facts that complaints about the building’s heater were reported to the landlord and manager; and through plaintiffs’ expert, that the heater’s factory-installed temperature limiting switch had been bypassed and that the heater was dilapidated, unsafe and poorly maintained by the landlord and manager. The settlement was negotiated shortly before the trial was to commence in the courthouse in Brooklyn.

By Daniela F. Henriques