Personal Injury & Nursing Home Abuse
Pittsburgh and Western PA

Compensation for Nursing Home Burn Injuries

Nursing home neglect often results in burn and scald injuries

Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to injury due to their age and underlying medical conditions. Among the various injuries that elderly individuals can sustain in nursing facilities, burn and scald injuries are notably painful and can be devastating. Ensuring protection from such risks is thus one of the most crucial responsibilities of a nursing home.

Regrettably, many facilities fall short of meeting this critical duty. Inadequate staffing, insufficient training, and lack of proper safety measures are common issues that contribute to these failures. The consequences of such neglect can be severe, profoundly affecting the health and well-being of residents.

If your loved one has suffered a burn or scald injury as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse in a Western Pennsylvania facility, it is essential to seek the guidance of an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help by evaluating the circumstances of the injury, determining liability, and advocating for the compensation and justice your loved one deserves.

What are common causes of burns in nursing homes?

In nursing homes and long-term care facilities, some of the most common causes of burn injuries include:


Scalding is a common source of burn injuries in nursing homes, often occurring from hot food and drinks. Elderly residents are particularly susceptible to severe burns from brief contact with hot substances due to their more fragile skin. Spills from hot liquids that are not promptly cleaned up can also lead to scald injuries. Additionally, during bathing or showering, the risk of scalds increases if the water temperature is not properly regulated or if there is insufficient supervision or training of staff. Extensive exposure during a bath or shower can significantly magnify the potential for injury, as even steam can burn sensitive elderly skin.

Nursing Home Fires

Fires represent a serious hazard in nursing homes and can lead to devastating burn injuries. Causes range from electrical malfunctions and cooking accidents to deliberate acts of arson. The danger is exacerbated by the fact that many residents may have limited mobility or cognitive impairments, complicating emergency evacuations. Beyond immediate burn injuries, fires can also cause respiratory problems from smoke inhalation, posing additional health risks to residents.


Smoking-related incidents are a significant burn risk in nursing homes, particularly because of the combination of smoking with reduced mobility, cognitive impairments, and the presence of flammable materials. Burn injuries can occur if residents smoke in bed, near oxygen tanks, or without proper supervision. Careless handling of smoking materials can easily lead to fires, further endangering the safety of all residents in the facility.

Physical Abuse

Unfortunately, physical abuse is another cause of burn injuries in nursing homes. Such abuse can involve using hot objects or substances to deliberately harm residents or the negligent handling of residents during activities that involve heat, such as bathing. These actions not only cause physical injuries but also deeply impact the emotional and psychological well-being of residents, manifesting as fear, anxiety, and depression.

Burn injuries can range in severity

Burn injuries in nursing homes can vary in severity, often categorized into different degrees based on the depth and extent of tissue damage. These classifications help medical professionals assess the extent of the injury and determine the appropriate treatment. The different degrees of burns commonly encountered in nursing home settings include:

  • 1st Degree Burn:
    • Affects the outer layer of skin (epidermis).
    • Symptoms include redness, pain, and mild swelling, like a sunburn.
    • Typically heals within a few days without significant scarring.
  • 2nd Degree Burn:
    • Affects both the epidermis and the dermis (underlying skin layer).
    • Causes blistering, intense pain, redness, and swelling.
    • Healing time varies, with the potential for scarring depending on burn depth.
  • 3rd Degree Burn:
    • Extends through the entire thickness of the skin, reaching deeper tissues.
    • Skin may appear white, charred, or leathery; numbness due to nerve damage is common.
    • Requires specialized medical care, possibly including skin grafts and rehabilitation.
  • 4th-6th Degree Burns:
    • Extensive burns involving damage to skin, muscles, bones, and organs.
    • Treatment is complex, often requiring surgical intervention and long-term rehabilitation.

Burn injury consequences extend beyond the immediate injury

Burn injuries in nursing homes can lead to severe consequences that go far beyond the initial physical harm. These injuries can result in a range of complications, each potentially serious:

  • Excision and Grafting: Severe burns may require surgical interventions such as excision, which involves the removal of dead tissue, and grafting, where damaged skin is replaced with healthy skin from another part of the body or a donor. These procedures are invasive and typically necessitate a lengthy recovery period.
  • Infections: Burned skin is highly susceptible to infections, particularly in nursing homes where many residents have compromised immune systems. Infections can delay healing and exacerbate other health issues.
  • Sepsis: This life-threatening response to infection can occur in severe burn cases. Sepsis causes widespread inflammation and can lead to organ dysfunction, requiring immediate and intensive medical care.
  • Shock: Particularly with extensive burns, patients can develop shock, a critical condition where the body’s vital organs do not receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Without prompt treatment, shock can cause dangerously low blood pressure and lead to organ failure.
  • Multi-Organ Failure: In extreme cases, severe burns can result in multi-organ failure. This complication involves the shutdown of multiple organ systems and can be fatal if not effectively managed.
  • Death: The most severe burn injuries, especially those complicated by sepsis or multi-organ failure, can be fatal.

How an attorney can help if your loved one was burned in a nursing home

Hal Waldman & Associates in Pittsburgh is dedicated to representing victims of nursing home burn injuries across Western Pennsylvania. Our experienced legal team fights hard to ensure our clients receive fair compensation for their injuries.

We understand the concerns and fears that victims and their families may have about reporting abuse or negligence at a nursing facility. That's why we provide a safe and supportive environment for clients to seek legal help. Our track record of success in nursing home abuse and neglect cases speaks for itself, and we are committed to protecting the rights of nursing home residents and their families.

If you suspect your loved one has suffered a burn injury in a Western Pennsylvania nursing home, contact us for a free and confidential consultation. Our Pittsburgh nursing home negligence lawyers are here to advocate for you and your family. Your rights matter here.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, “Compensation for Nursing Home Burn Injuries.”

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