Burn Injury Lawsuit
Burn injuries are among the most horrific and debilitating injuries a person can suffer. Not only do they leave victims with physical scars and lifelong pain but they can also result in long-term psychological distress and a decrease in quality of life.
Hundreds of thousands of people are treated every year in the United States for burn injuries. Unfortunately, a large number of those burns are preventable or caused by the negligence of someone else.
While the most severe burns will never heal, victims don’t have to go the rest of their lives without justice. Learn more about the effects of burn injuries, the healing process, and how a burn injury lawyer can help victims get their lives back on track.
Most Common Causes of Burn Injuries
The American Burn Association has gathered data on the most common causes of burns in the United States1.
Fire & Flames
Fire was the number one cause for admission to burn centers in 2015. Roughly 43 percent of those admitted to a burn center blamed fire or flames. Flames can be caused by any number of things, such as a candle tipping over or someone falling asleep with a lit cigarette.
The next most common reason for admittance to a burn center was scalding at 34 percent. In this category, a patient is typically injured by hot water from a boiling pot or a shower. Spilled beverages like hot coffee or tea can also account for scalding injuries. Burn injuries caused by steam also fall under this category.
Touching a hot object accounts for about 9 percent of burn admissions. For example, a person may accidentally lean on an iron or touch a pan on the stove.
When a large current of electricity passes through the body, it can result in burns to the skin. Electrical burns only accounted for about 4 percent of admittance to burn centers but some estimates say around 1,000 people die each year from these types of burns. This includes burn injuries caused by touching faulty wiring, being struck by lightning, inserting fingers into electrical sockets, or coming in contact with electrified water.
Chemical burns make up even less of the burn injury cases at only 3 percent. However, the dangers and consequences of chemical burns remain high. As many as 30 percent of all burn deaths come from chemicals2. Chemical burns are frequently caused by exposure to any number of substances, such as bleach.
Radiation & Other
The final 7 percent of cases at burn centers come from a hodgepodge of causes. Causes can include exposure to radiation resulting in sunburn or inhalation of damaging substances.
Classifications of Burn Injuries
In order to better treat burn injuries, they are typically broken down into four categories based on severity.
- First-degree burns: The top layer of the skin is damaged with some redness and mild pain.
- Second-degree burns: The top two layers are damaged, resulting in redness, pain, and blistering.
- Third-degree burns: All layers of the skin are damaged, leaving a white or black wound with nerve damage.
- Fourth-degree burns: Not only is the skin destroyed but the muscle or bone underneath is damaged as well.
Treatment & the Resuscitation Phase of Burn Injury
Burn treatment options have come a long way. According to Medscape, doctors noticed that in the past, patients with large burns would survive the initial event but die from shock not long after3. Over time, doctors began coming up with fluid resuscitation formulas that advanced more and more.
Fluid resuscitation is the act of replenishing lost fluids to prevent the body from going into shock. Shock will set in if 15 to 20 percent of the total body surface area is burned and fluid resuscitation is not done. This is why the first 48 hours are dedicated to resuscitation. Doctors will work to ensure that vital organs keep functioning and that fluid is replaced at appropriate levels.
Around 72 hours later, doctors may start to work on closing wounds and reconstructing some of the areas that are the most delicate. Once all the wounds are closed, the rehabilitation process begins.
Complications of Burn Injuries
From the onset of the injury and throughout the healing process, the patient may experience complications. These include:
- Infection. Due to the open wounds, the skin is susceptible to bacterial infection that can ultimately lead to an infection throughout the whole body.
- Scars. Moderate to severe burns can cause permanent damage to the skin.
- Low blood volume. When burns damage the blood vessels under the skin, it could cause fluid or blood loss that keeps the heart from being able to supply enough blood to the body.
- Low body temperature. The skin is an important mechanism in maintaining the proper body temperature. When the skin becomes damaged, heat can be lost too quickly.
- Respiratory issues. Smoke inhalation or burns around the neck can result in the constriction of the upper airway. Burn victims down the line may also be more susceptible to pneumonia and other respiratory distress4.
- Blood clots. Patients who require long periods of recovery in a hospital bed may be more likely to develop blood clots in the limbs.
- Psychological complications. Psychological trauma is not uncommon among patients who experienced severe burns. Not only can people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but they may also be stricken by depression or anxiety. Those with heavy scarring can have issues with self-image.
Burn Injuries & Filing Lawsuits
About 460,000 people seek medical attention for burns every year, according to the American Burn Association. While some are injured from genuine accidents or unlucky circumstances, others suffer debilitating burns as a result of someone else’s negligence. This means the victim can hold another party responsible for their injuries.
The types of burns that may be caused by another’s negligence varies widely. Some of the most common causes include:
- Fires at apartment buildings
- Chemical spills at work
- Fires from car crashes
- Explosions from damaged pipes
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Fires at businesses
- Burns from defective products
- Workplace fires
- Scalding water or steam from pipes
- Exposed power lines
Landlords, business owners, drivers, and employers have a duty to protect residents, customers, other drivers, and employees from harm. This means they have to take reasonable action to prevent injury. For example, if someone was driving well above the speed limit and ran a red light before crashing into a car, they could be held accountable for a burn injury if the other car went up in flames.
Working with a Burn Injury Lawyer
The sad truth is that nearly everyone will work against burn victims to minimize payouts — whether it’s insurance companies or landlords. They will often come up with countless excuses for why they should not be held accountable for another’s burn injury. That’s why a lawyer is so important.
A lawyer not only knows the ins and outs of the law but has experience dealing with other parties in burn injury cases. Contacting an attorney could mean the difference between getting nothing and receiving compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
If you have suffered a burn injury at the fault of someone else, contact an attorney today to find out more about how justice can be served.