Chemical burn from lounge chair...

by Michael
(Peoria, AZ)

I was at my apartment building's fenced in pool area, where I was laying on the lounge chair to sun tan like I do often. This particular day there was a foreign white chemical that matched in color to the chair I laid on, so I didn't notice it while on it. I had a towel over the chair but the chemical bled through and got on my front side and started burning me.

I let management know to come evaluate it, but unfortunately there's a clause I signed about the pool area that gets them off the hook, so they say. I went to urgent care to have my skin looked at and the Dr. said I have a 1st degree burn. The expense out-of-pocket for me was $125.00 plus $15.00 for medication creme.

It was very uncomfortable the rest of the day and still to date I'm having pain - that of a severe sunburn. My schedule was altered somewhat to make it easier for me to work today.

My question is, can I be reimbursed for my medical visit and pain and suffering?
The complex personnel were very unprofessional when they came to observe my condition at the poolside when it occurred. They touched the chemical on the chair and said, "it doesn't burn."

Mind you I was on the chair for 20 minutes before I started feeling the burning sensation. While sweating in the heat I think this led to the chemical bleeding through my towel onto my skin. The manager didn't even seem to care. All he said was "I have a signed clause that protects the complex in the pool area."

If this is the case, and they are protected, then why do they close the pool often because of defects or damages to the pool like broken glass? I took pictures of the burn on my stomach and of the substance that was on the chair. It had a bleach or chlorine smell.

The complex manager said they only use window cleaner on chairs and chemicals go only in pool filter area not hand sprayed into pool from the deck. Is there anything I can do? I'd at least like to get back the money I paid for my medical care. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Chemical burn from lounge chair...":

Michael (Peoria, AZ):

Your first difficulty will be proving the foreign substance was the direct and proximate cause of your 1st degree burn. Direct and proximate cause means there were no other intervening factors, before, during, or at the time of your injury, which could have caused or contributed to your injury.

Moreover, you will need a written narrative or verification from the treating physician that the substance you speak of caused the burn. At this point, neither the treating physician nor you have been able to identify the foreign substance. All we know for sure is that it was a "foreign substance" which caused your burn.

The burn you received is a 1st degree burn, which a superficial. With a first degree burn the surface of the skin is damaged, but the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) remains intact, and therefore is able to perform its functions, which include controlling body temperature and protecting you from infection or injury.

At this point you can ask the apartment management to cover the costs of your medical treatment and medication creme. If they continue to ignore your requests you can consider suing them in small claims court.

However, even in small claims court you will be required to prove your injury was caused by the foreign substance. Once again, that will be difficult to do. And if you do sue the apartment company in small claims court, it's likely their insurance company will provide an attorney to defend them.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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