Severe burn injuries are one of the most devastating types of personal injury, and is the third-leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, behind only automobile accidents and falls. Serious burn injuries caused by another person’s carelessness (“negligence”) can cause severe pain and injury, loss of use of parts of the body, and major disfigurement. Serious burn injuries may require years of therapy including skin grafting, dermabrasion, skin substitutes, rehabilitation, medication and even perhaps psychological therapy.
If you have suffered a severe burn injury because of another person’s fault, you have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person. If he or she was working for a company at the time of the injury, you also have the right to sue his or her employer. Burn injuries constitute one of the most serious types of personal injury: Third degree burns involve the destruction of muscle, tendon, and ligament damage, and also cause severe disfigurement, which subjects the burn victim to feeling like a monster in public, when people see his or her disfigurement and quickly turn away to avoid looking at the person.
There are a number of types of burns, the most common of which are thermal burns, which are caused by fire. The person’s skin may be burned deeply, and there are also damages to the lung due to inhalation of heat or smoke inhalation. Other types of burns include friction burns, such as when a motorcyclist or bicyclist is hit by a car and is dragged a number of feet; electrical burns and electrocution; chemical burns caused by acid and other caustic substances; and radiation burns, which are caused by exposure to the sun and tanning booths, X-rays, radiation for treatment of cancer, and nuclear medicine.
In a lawsuit against another person or company for inflicting serious burn injuries on you, you have the right to be monetarily compensated for all of your medical expenses, including medical procedures such as reconstructive surgery you will have to undergo in the future, lost wages due to your inability to work, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Because of the damages—physical as well as psychological—from a severe burn, it you have suffered burn injuries or a loved one has died for burn injuries because of the carelessness of another person, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately so he or she can start working right away to obtain all the monetary compensation you are entitled to.
Serious burns are complex. In addition to the burn injury itself, a number of other functions may be affected. Burn injuries can affect muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels. The lungs and airway can be damaged by, for example, breathing in hot air. The severity of a burn injury is determined by a number of factors, including the depth of the burned area, the total body surface area (TBSA) burned, the location of the burn, what caused the burn, and the age and health of the burn victim.
The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis (the outer layer), the dermis (the second layer), and subcutaneous tissues (fat and muscle). Traditionally, burn injuries have been classified according to degree. A first-degree burn usually affects only the outer layer (epidermis). A second-degree burn affects the epidermis and the next layer of skin, the dermis. Second-degree burns involve the superficial (“papillary”) dermis, and may also involve the deep (“reticular”) dermis layer. Second-degree burns are considered minor if they involve less than 15 percent of the total body surface area (TBSA) in adults, and less than 10 percent TBSA in children.
Third-degree burns affect all layers of the skin and often the underlying tissue, tendons, joints, and bones. The burned area is usually charred black and includes areas that are dry and white. For some people, a third-degree burn is excruciatingly painful, while many are relatively painless due to the nerve endings having been destroyed by the burn. Third-degree burns result in scarring and victims will also lose hair shafts and keratin. This degree of burn often requires skingrafting. Fourth-degree burns damage muscle, tendon, and ligament tissue, resulting in charring to and catastrophic damage of the hypodermis. In some cases, the hypodermis tissue may be partially or completely burned away, resulting in a condition known as compartment syndrome, a life-threatening disorder. Skingrafting is required if the burns do not prove fatal. There are also fifth- and sixth-degree burns, but these are almost always fatal and are only seen at postmortem examination (that is, at an autopsy). In rare cases, where the burn is limited to one area, such as an arm or leg, the surgeon may amputate the limb that has been burned so severely.
The system of “degrees” of burn is being replaced by a system that addresses the amount of surgical intervention involved. Under this system, burns are classified as superficial, superficial partial-thickness, deep partial-thickness, or full-thickness. Many doctors prefer these newer descriptions because they relate more closely to the prognosis and treatment of the burn than the older method does. Superficial thickness is the equivalent of a first-degree burn. A partial thickness-superficial burn is the equivalent of a second-degree burn that involves the superficial (top layer) dermis, resulting in blisters, clear fluid, and pain. There is no damage to the deeper layers of the dermis, sweat glands, or oil glands. Partial thickness-deep correlates to a second-degree burn of the deep (inner layer) dermis. A partial thickness-deep burn involves damage to the deep (inner layer) dermis, sweat glands, and oil glands. A full-thickness burn is the equivalent of a third- or fourth-degree burn, causing damage to the dermis and underlying tissue, and possibly bone or muscle. A full-thickness burn is hard, with leather-like eschar, purple fluid, and no sensation.
Burns are also assessed in terms of total body surface area (TBSA) burned, which is the percentage affected by partial thickness or full thickness burns. The “rule of nines” is used as a quick way to estimate the TBSA affected. The adult body is divided into regions, each of which makes up nine percent of the TBSA. These regions are the head and neck, each upper limb, the chest, the abdomen, the upper back, the lower back and the buttocks, the front of each lower limb, and the back of each lower limb. This makes up 99 percent of the human body. The remaining one percent is the genital area. With an infant or small child, more emphasis is placed on the head and trunk.
The first 48 hours after being burned are the most critical for survival and recovery. Two of the main concerns of health care professionals are infection and fluid loss. To counter this, doctors will order IV electrolytes and other fluids, antibiotics, and a tetanus shot during the initial treatment after a burn. Once the patient has been stabilized, the wounds are cleaned and covered. If there is not enough skin left to cover the burned area, doctors will perform skin grafts using skin from unburned areas of the victim’s body if possible, and, if not, using cadaver skin or artificial skin. If you have been seriously burned, your chances for a successful recovery are greatest when you are treated at one of the approximately 200 specialized burn treatment centers across the United States.
A burn victim is at risk for dying from certain other conditions, such as infection, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, heart problems, or sepsis. Medical researchers have discovered that internal organs often suffer damage after a critical burn injury. The reason for this is that, when faced with a life-threatening injury, the body will redirect blood to try to save the brain and heart, robbing the intestines and lungs of oxygen and other blood-borne substances.
According to the American Burn Association, nearly 1 million people require medical attention for their burns on an annual basis. Of that number 45,000 are hospitalized and 4,500 die from their injuries.
This means that countless men women and children end up sustaining painful and debilitating injury and in many cases, the accident may have been preventable.
There are a number of types of burns: thermal burns; friction burns; electrical burns; chemical burns; and radiation burns. Although they have many things in common, each will be discussed separately.
Thermal burns are the most frequent type of burns and are caused by fire or excessive heat such as steam, hot liquids, or coming into contact with hot objects. In automobile collisions, there is always the risk of a ruptured gas line or impact with the gas tank that causes the vehicle to be set afire. Even when the person is removed from the source of the thermal burn, damage to his or her skin is still taking place and requires the prompt administration of first aid. Depending upon their severity, they can cause anywhere from the minor discomfort of first-degree burns to life-threatening third-degree burns. In thermal burns, as well as other types of burns, the swelling and blistering of the burned skin is caused by the loss of fluid from damaged blood vessels. In severe cases, such fluid loss can cause shock. Immediate blood transfusion and/or intravenous fluids may be needed to maintain blood pressure. Due to the damage to the skin’s protective barrier, burns often lead to infection, which if not treated promptly and appropriately can result in life-threatening consequences, even death.
Fire has been associated with three types of inhalation injuries. (Inhalation injuries also occur with different types of burns, such as the inhalation of a caustic chemical.) When inhalation injuries are combined with external burns, the chance of death increases significantly. The three types of inhalation injuries are:
Friction burns commonly occur when a person is dragged along a surface. For instance, in a motor vehicle-motorcycle accident in which the motorcyclist is dragged a ways, he or she will likely sustain friction burns caused by the asphalt or cement unless he or she was wearing protective clothing. Joggers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are at high risk for friction burns when they are injured by an automobile or other motor vehicle. When a person has been dragged in an accident, he or she usually sustains abrasion injuries as well as a friction burn.
Electrical burns occur when a person comes into contact with an exposed live wire line or other electrical source. Coming into contact with a high-voltage power source often results in limbs being severely burned, as the electricity seeks a way out of the body. With lower voltage sources, the person is unable to release his or her grasp on the power line or object, often resulting in electrocution. Besides the damage to the skin, electrical burns can affect the internal organs as well.
Chemical burns are caused by acids and other caustic substances, many of them found in household cleaning products.
Radiation burns are caused by exposure to the sun, tanning booths, sunlamps, X-rays, radiation treatment for cancer, and nuclear medicine.
There are numerous reasons why a crippling burn accident can occur with most happening in or around the home. Burns can also be sustained in car or work related accidents as well.
They usually happen after the skin makes contact with a surface or is exposed to conditions that cause a deterioration of the upper skin layers. An example of this would be burns from contact with a hot surface, a scalding liquid, dangerous chemicals or an unprotected electrical source.
Other burns can come from exposure to things like radiation, harmful sun rays and inhalation from fumes during a fire.
Burn injuries require intensive treatments to heal—costly skin grafts and rehabilitation are a necessary part of the process and can make all the difference in helping victims heal after their accident. One can see their life savings drained to non-existence in a short time after such an accident however, which can add to the tragic circumstances surrounding the incident.
If the burns were incurred from a fire, a car accident or a work related incident that was not the fault of the victim they should sue the responsible party for financial damages in court.
Don’t put yourself or your family at financial risk – contact the burn injury lawyers at The Torkzadeh Law Firm today to lean more about your rights after an accident that culminates in severe burn injury.
Via personal injury litigation you can obtain compensation that will enable you to pay for expensive medical treatments as well as any lost income from missed work. When all is said and done it is in your best interest to look into your legal options when you or a loved one suffers needlessly because of someone else’s negligence. Call today at (888) 845-9696 and see what we can do for you when debilitating burn injury attempts to rob you and your family of a secure, financial future.