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Law Firm

Hot Water Scald & Burn Injuries

Image by Leif Christoph Gottwald

If the hot water system in your apartment or home malfunctions or is misadjusted water can come out of the tap and shower boiling hot and cause severe scald injuries. A burn caused by a liquid is called a scald injury. Scald injuries are so painful that it is common for victims to receive morphine from emergency medical personnel before they even get to the hospital. Treatment can require skin grafts with resulting unsightly host and donor sites. Victims can be left with scarring, reduced range of motion of fingers and limbs and increased susceptibility to skin cancer.

Dangerous hot water is usually caused by negligent maintenance or repair of the domestic hot water system. Often the landlord or plumbing company fails to routinely check the temperature of the water or tries to save money by postponing necessary repairs. Sometimes the plumbing company installs the wrong temperature control device.


When the domestic hot water system fails, water can come out of the tap or shower at the same temperature as the water in the boiler. The water temperature can even be above boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit). The generally accepted maximum safe temperature for domestic hot water is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.


When water comes out of the tap or shower at more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit a person can suffer serious scald injuries before they have time to react. Children and the elderly suffer scald injuries more quickly than others.


Scald injuries from home and apartment hot water systems are more common in winter than other times of the year. This is because many buildings turn the boiler temperature up during the winter.


People sometimes “adjust” to a dangerous hot water condition by mixing hot water with cold water before they use the water. Mixing hot and cold water is not a substitute for safe water temperature. It only takes one forgetful moment to result in serious injury. No one should live in an apartment or house where a momentary lapse can result in tragic injuries.


If you or someone you know is injured by excessively hot water in the home it is very important to preserve evidence of the water temperature. The best way to do this is to hold a meat thermometer under the running water and videotape the temperature.

If you or someone you know has been injured by excessively hot water call our office for a free consultation at 718-522-1743.

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