Burn Injuries

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Burns can be life-altering injuries. Not only are they incredibly painful, but scarring, the manner in which the person was burned, and the severity of the burn all play into how long recovery will take, whether or not there was more significant damage, such as nerve damage, loss of range of motion, or even amputation, and change to quality of life. If you or a loved one have suffered burns, contact a skilled burn injury attorney for representation. They will be able to review the facts of the case, determine fault, and push for recovery of damages.

How Burn Injuries Can Occur

Burn injuries can occur through a multitude of ways, including workplace injuries, auto vehicle accidents, and accidents due to negligently or poorly maintained premises, such as poorly repaired or maintained machinery, unsafe working or living conditions, or defective products. Other ways include dry heat (fire or heated implements), wet heat (steam or scalding liquids), friction, electricity, radiation, caustic chemicals, the sun, and even from exposure to severe cold, such as frostbite.

Types of Injuries

Burns can be caused by many different kinds of sources. The most common type of burn is caused by heat, also known as a thermal burn. Thermal burns can occur through wet or dry heat, such as a hot oil or grease spill, or fire, coming into contact with hot metal or heated implements like a malfunctioning electrical unit, or even scalding water caused by a broken water heater.
Chemical burns are caused by caustic chemicals that have come into contact with someone’s skin.

Some common situations may include workplace accidents, like a chemical spill. Others may include mislabeled products, or even cleaning solutions that were mishandled by employees at restaurants and stores, causing internal burns through food and drink contamination.

Electrical burns can occur almost anywhere there is a source of electricity. People repairing power lines are at risk, as well as electricians, and anyone attempting a repair of a damaged or defective product in their home or vehicle. Much less commonly, electrical burns can also be caused when someone is struck by lightning.

Medical professionals rank burns on a numerical scale according to severity.

  • First Degree: these are the least severe types of burns someone can receive. First degree burns are generally characterized by mild to moderate pain in the burned area, and redness of the skin. Sunburn, wet or dry heat such as scalds from steam or liquids, coming into contact with a hot surface, and mild chemical burns, and friction burns, such as rug burn, can all cause first degree burns. These are usually treated by applying cool water or cold compresses to the afflicted area, and covering with a loose bandage or gauze if needed.
  • Second Degree: these types are generally more severe than first degree, but they can range in severity from mild blistering to blistering covering large areas of the body, or raw areas of skin where several layers have been removed. Second degree burns come in two categories; superficial second degree burns, and deep partial thickness burns. Superficial second degree burns are the less severe of the two. Blisters may form and the burn will be painful to the touch. With superficial second degree burns, only part of the dermis, the second layer of skin, has been damaged. Generally, these types of burns do not tend to leave permanent scarring, as any damage incurred has not gone deep enough into the soft tissue. Deep partial thickness burns, however, are more severe. These tend to have lasting scarring, as the heat or other means of burning the area has penetrated further, damaging more of the tissue. Second degree burns are generally treated with cool water, pain relievers, and bandages or loose gauze. However, because these can become open wounds, infection may set in. Doctors or other healthcare professionals will treat an infected burn wound with the appropriate medications.
  • Third Degree: these are one of the most severe types of burns. When someone has received a third degree burn, heat, electricity, radiation, or some other type of agent has penetrated two layers of skin. Otherwise known as full thickness burns, third degree burns generally do not hurt because nerve endings have been damaged or destroyed. Third degree burns do not blister, but instead take on a waxy appearance, with a white, yellow, brown, or black appearance. Some third degree burns may also be charred, depending on the amount of heat and manner in which the person was burned. Electrical burns, burns caused by hot oil spills, and fires, such as motor vehicle accidents and fires that occur in buildings or residences can all cause third degree burns. Because of the extent of the damage, skin grafts are often required, and range of motion and sensation can be greatly reduced. Amputation may also be necessary. Medical attention is always necessary when someone has suffered a third degree burn, as they are at greater risk for infection, blood loss, and shock.
  • Fourth Degree: this is the most severe type of burn. All soft tissue, including all layers of skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are burned, as well as bone tissue. Fourth degree burns are life threatening, if not fatal, and always require excision of the burned tissue, if not amputation, depending on location and how much of the body was affected. People who suffer fourth degree burns may be trapped in vehicle or building fires and cannot escape. Other ways someone can receive a fourth degree burn is through a workplace accident, especially if they work with highly flammable or unstable materials, like gases, incendiaries, and chemicals.

Recovering Damages in Burn Injury Cases

When someone has suffered a burn injury, whether they were involved in a motor vehicle accident or were injured on the job, they may be entitled to receiving monetary awards for their injuries, including lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills.

A burn injury lawyer will review the case and determine whether an entity was liable for the injury. If it occurred on private or public property, the injured party may be able to make a case regarding premises liability laws on the basis of negligence.

Depending on the severity of the burn and other factors, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are only granted in very specific cases where malice and an intent to cause harm on the part of the defendant can be proven in court. A jury will award punitive damages based on these factors.

Contact a Lawyer

If you or a loved one have suffered a burn injury, contact a highly skilled burn injury attorney to represent your case. A lawyer will be thoroughly knowledgeable of state and local laws, as well as the judges and other attorneys who may be involved in the case. For more information regarding damages in burn injury cases, contact Malloy Law Offices, LLC for your free consultation as soon as possible.

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