What Happens After An Accidental Burn?
We've all had minor burns. Took the lid off a pot of boiling water the wrong way? It's a steam burn. Held the curling iron a little too close to your head? That's a thermal burn. And who has not gotten a minor burn while grilling food at a summertime barbecue?
But a serious personal injury accidental burn is very different than the above minor burns. Serious burns damage the skin and sometimes deeper into the body, going down to the muscles, nerves and bones. A serious burn is a horrifying event that may change your life in significant ways.
How do burn injuries happen?
Burn injuries can be caused in many accidental ways, such as:
- Big truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Chemical burns
- Clothing that easily catches fire
- Construction accidents
- Electrical wiring defects
- Faulty gasoline tanks
- Furniture that easily catches fire
- Gas or water heater explosions
- Hot water scalding
- Industrial accidents
- Kids playing with fire
- Kitchen fires
- Motorcycle accidents
- Faulty propane tanks
- Residential fires
- Faulty smoke alarms
- Workplace accidents
What are the types of burn injuries?
Burn injuries can be physical, emotional, psychological and financial.
What are the ways burns can happen?
- Thermal burns: Flames and/or hot objects contact the skin.
- Scalds: from hot liquids
- Chemical burns: Example - battery fluid or gasoline gets on the skin after a crash
- Electrical burns: Like those caused by defective products
- Explosions: A car explodes after a high-speed crash
How are burn degrees classified?
Most people think there are only three degrees of burns, but there are actually four degrees.
Burns are classified by severity. First degree burns are the mildest and fourth degree are the worst.
What are the specific classifications of burns?
Burns are classified as first, second, third, and fourth degree, depending on how deeply and severely they penetrate the skin's surface.
Here are the classifications of burns:
First degree (superficial) burns: Affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burn is dry, painful, and red. There are no blisters. Long-term tissue damage is rare.
Second degree (partial thickness) burns: Involve the epidermis and part of the lower layer of skin, the dermis. The burn is blistered, red, swollen and painful.
Third degree (full thickness) burns: Destroy the epidermis and dermis and may go into the innermost skin layer, called subcutaneous tissue. The burn may look blackened, charred or white.
Fourth-degree burns: These go through all the skin, underlying tissue, the deeper tissue, and possibly muscle and bone. All sensation is lost because the nerve endings get destroyed.
How is burn severity diagnosed?
Burn severity is broken down into three categories:
- Minor: First degree and second degree burns covering less than 10% of the body. Rarely require hospitalization.
- Moderate: Second degree burns covering about 10% of the body.
- Severe: Third degree burns covering more than 1% of the body.
How can my physical and mental health get injured from a burn injury?
Here are some physical health burn injuries:
Brain injury (cerebral hypoxia):
Did you know a fire can actually consume all of the oxygen in a building? No oxygen in the building means no oxygen to your brain, a life-threatening condition called cerebral hypoxia.
Bone and joint problems: Even if your bones and joints did not get burned, scarred skin is tight which can restrict the mobility of the underlying muscles and tendons.
Infection of blood and skin: If the blood gets infected, this is called sepsis. Sepsis can cause organ failure and death.
Keloids: Scars or ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue
Kidneys: Smoke can also damage kidneys, resulting in kidney failure
Lungs: Breathing problems from smoke inhalation and possibly damaged lungs
Besides the physical manifestation of a burn injury, burn injuries include mental health problems:
Mental health: PTSD from surviving the accident which caused the burn, and the burn itself. Depression from living with a transformed body and adjusting to the different way others may treat a burn survivor with visible scars.
What kind of treatment can an accidental burn injury require?
- A serious burn might require years of treatment
- Specialized hospitalization will be required
- Antibiotic creams and intravenous fluids may be needed during the early phase
- Surgeries may be attempted and treatments may be tried, with the goal of returning the skin to look and act as normal as possible.
- Even after scars heal, loss of skin strength can occur because scars make the skin fragile.
- Skin grafting to treat the scars is not always successful. Cosmetic surgery may be needed.
- Psychiatric treatment and support for the PTSD and depression after surviving the burn, and the accident in which they were burned, the trauma of living with scars every day, and having to deal with the different way others may treat a burn survivor with visible scars.
What should I do after a burn injury accident?
Get medical attention right away. If the burn was caused by someone else, call 911.
Then contact a good attorney about the possibility of holding one or more wrongdoers responsible for your serious personal injury burn.
What damages can I go after in my burn case?
You can go after the same types of damages as any other personal injury case: read about damages here.
Some damages are called non-economic, called pain and suffering. As to burn survivor pain and suffering, the law says that it can also include the invasion of a person's bodily integrity (that is, the fact of the injury itself), disfigurement, disability, impaired enjoyment of life, susceptibility to future harm or injury, and a shortened life expectancy.
What's my burn injury case worth?
The value of your burn personal injury case hinges on two things: liability and damages.
If someone else was negligent (careless) or reckless (more than negligent but not intentional) and you ended up with burns, you may have this part of your case satisfied. If you were hurt by a defective product used in a reasonably foreseeable way, you do not have to show negligence.
This is called strict liability.
If you can show that someone else is liable for your injury, then you have to show that you've been damaged.
How much does it cost to hire a burn injury attorney?
When you hire me on your burn injury case, I do not charge you anything up front. I charge you nothing until your burn injury case settles.
On burn accidents, and in all cases where I help injured people, I charge what are called “contingency fees”.
Simply put, if I win your burn injury case, I charge a fee which is a percentage of your settlement. If I do not win your case, you do not owe me an attorney's fee for the time and effort that I put into working on your burn injury case. The written contract has the details.
How much time do I have to make a burn injury claim?
Generally, there is a statute of limitations of two years to file a California lawsuit and sue for a burn injury. That clock starts right on the date of the accident. With limited exceptions, the clock runs out exactly 730 days later, because a year is 365 days. An important exception is that if the government is someone you want to sue, you only have 6 months to make a claim with them. Statutes of limitations are complicated and you should call an attorney about your particular case.
It's the best idea to contact a burn injury attorney right away, as soon as possible after the burn injury occurs. That way you can reap all the benefits and protections of having a good attorney fight for you from day one.
When should I call a San José burn injury attorney?
If you hire me, I will work on your behalf and fight for maximum payment on your rideshare accident case.
If your loved one passed away after a burn injury, please call me about your wrongful death case.
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None of the information on this website of Attorney Renée Yvonne Gardner is offered as medical advice.
If you have been injured in any type of accident, please seek immediate medical attention and follow the advice of your doctor.