Burn Accidents: Categories, Treatments, and Legal Implications
Last updated Tuesday, November 14th, 2023
Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Burn Injuries
There’s a reason why getting burned is one of the top picks in the list of people’s biggest fears.
The pain is persistent and unimaginable. And the recovery is unpredictable.
Burns cause more combined physical and psychological trauma than most other injuries.
Here’s how vulnerable you become in every aspect of your life after a burn accident:
Physical – The damage to your tissues and the slow healing process in case of severe burns makes your pain unmanageable without extensive treatment and medication.
Mental – The constant stress of pain and the apprehension of living with scars can put a heavy psychological toll on victims. You may end up developing anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
Financial – The cost of quality healthcare is no joke. The American Burn Association estimates that a victim with burns on 40 to 60 percent of their body will require hospitalization for nearly two months. They may have to pay up to $780,000. And we’re not even accounting for dealing with further complications during treatment and rehab. If you’re unprepared, a burn accident could be an express ticket to bankruptcy.
The WHO reports that there are over 11 million burn injuries around the world. Out of these, there are at least 180,000 fatal injuries. Most of them happen due to some negligence by another party. They could happen while traveling, at home, or at your workplace. But with a little awareness, you can prevent most of them.
However, if you’ve been burned due to someone’s negligence, you deserve to be legally compensated for your injuries. Get in touch with our skilled team of burn accident lawyers and we’ll ensure you get everything you need to have a smooth recovery.
Burn Injury Categories
Getting your burns medically evaluated and treated should top your priority list after an accident. You need to do it for the sake of your health and the legitimacy of your claim.
You need to file official medical reports and treatment documentation to prove your damages. The size of your compensation depends on the severity of burns suffered.
Here’s how doctors classify your burn injuries based on their severity:
- First-degree burns – They affect only the outer layer of your skin – the epidermis. They leave no trace of damage once the epidermis peels off and grows back. The only symptoms are reddishness, dryness, and minor inflammation in the affected area. They can easily be treated within 7 to 10 days.
- Second-degree burns – Second-degree burns can damage the top and lower layers of your skin. They appear to be extremely red and can cause blisters and swelling. These blisters often keep popping open and the affected area turns into a thick scab-like wound. They take two to three weeks to heal without leaving any scars. However, they may lead to some skin pigmentation issues.
- Third-degree burns – These burns can damage every layer of your skin and can even cause nerve damage. They appear to leave waxy, charred, dark brown, or leathery wounds. They require extensive hospitalization and often require multiple reconstructive surgeries to avoid severe scarring. There’s a probability of you developing complications like blood loss, sepsis, tetanus, and other infections.
- Fourth-degree burns – These are the most fatal kinds of burns that are extremely difficult to treat. They can destroy all layers of your skin, underlying tissue, muscles, and bones.
Common Burn Treatments
It’s easy to treat first-degree burns at home if you know the right remedies. However, it’s better to get a medical consultation to identify the type of burn and remedy best suited for it. For all other types of burns, you should definitely treat them with proper medical supervision.
Mistreating or neglecting your burn wounds can help the party at fault escape liability. They can claim your action or inaction aggravated your condition. For instance, using ice on the burn wound can cause frostbite and make it susceptible to infection. So getting the right treatment at the right time is critical to strengthen your burn injury claim.
Here are some common burn treatments that can help victims:
- Antibiotic ointments – Topical ointments like bacitracin and silver sulfadiazine can prevent infections and accelerate your wound healing. They are commonly used in the treatment of first-degree and second-degree burns.
- Daily wound cleaning and dressing– Follow the burn care protocol recommended by your doctor every day to support your healing. It includes steps like washing the wound with mild soap and water, patting the burn dry gently, dressing it with dry gauze, and applying ointments as instructed.
- Intravenous antibiotics and painkillers – Pain management and keeping the wound free from complications is an essential part of treatment. Your doctor may recommend the necessary dosage based on the severity of your condition.
- Skin grafts and surgical procedures – Skin grafts in highly visible burn areas of your body can allow you to move on with a healthy self-image. Surgeons will take a piece of healthy skin from another part of your body to cover the cleaned burn wound. It accelerates your wound recovery process and minimizes scarring.
How Burn Injuries and Accidents Occur
Here are the leading causes of burns reported by doctors:
Thermal burns – caused by direct exposure of your flesh to a flame or other heat sources. They include flash burns, flame burns, scalding burns, and contact burns.
Chemical burns – caused by strong acids, alkalis, solvents, or additives that can damage your skin.
Electrical burns – caused by an electric power source like malfunctioning vehicle batteries or appliances.
Radiation burns – caused by extensive exposure to the sun or X-rays and MRIs.
Consequences of Burn Injuries
Living with the repercussions of burn injuries can take a huge physical, mental, and financial toll on you. You may face a long struggle with pain, mobility issues, scarring, and infections constantly agitating you. Extensive hospitalization and disabilities may force you out of your job and diminish your earning potential. So if you’re the sole provider for your family, their well-being is at risk too.
Burn victims should also go through therapy available at burn centers before going back home. The whole recovery period will be a challenging phase. They can empower you with the right guidance and tools to cope with this stressful period.
It’s important to understand the potential for legal recourse in burn injury cases. After all, you’ll be facing a mountain of financial liabilities like medical expenses, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering.
It’s important to consult with an attorney with knowledge of the issues surrounding a burn injury. They’ll create a personalized legal strategy to maximize your settlement. Call us for a free case review to know what your case is worth and how to take the next step.