Burn Injuries from Car Accidents and the Legal Ramifications
Last updated Tuesday, November 14th, 2023
Clearing the Path to a Fair Settlement For Your Burn Injuries
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that there are close to 170,000 vehicle fires every year. However, burn injuries only account for 8 percent of all reported car accident injuries. They are usually triggered by fuel tank leaks after the accident.
Electric battery malfunctions have also contributed to a significant rise in fatal burn injuries over the last few years. It takes only a few seconds for your vehicle’s lifeline to become a life-threatening risk for you.
You only have a few seconds to clear the accident scene because these fires can be wild and unpredictable. The unlucky victims who get caught may end up facing severe damage that permanently scars them – physically and mentally.
There are various kinds of burns you may endure in a car accident, such as:
- Flash burns
- Friction burns
- Smoke inhalation burns
- Chemical burns
- Electrical burns
- Thermal burns
Treating burn injuries is a complex and delicate process. They have a high risk of infections and need long and careful treatment. There’s a strong chance doctors may not be able to restore the skin of the affected area. Your appearance may be permanently altered, which can affect your self-image severely. So it’s important to address both the physical and psychological effects of burn injuries.
But to deal with that effectively, you need financial security to support your recovery process. If you’ve been burnt in a car accident due to someone’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries.
Physical Effects of Burn Injuries
Beware of treating your burn injuries with simple home remedies. For instance, applying ice to a burn injury can damage the skin further by causing frostbite.
Different types of burn injuries require different levels of medical intervention. Even a moderate second-degree burn can easily get infected and create multiple complications.
Letting the professionals do their work is best for your health and the sake of your injury claim. Insurers can compromise your claim by blaming you for neglecting your injury and aggravating your condition.
Here are the different types of burns you may be diagnosed with:
First-degree burns – These burn injuries look like an average sunburn. They only cause damage to the top layer of your skin, which leads to some redness and dryness in the affected area. You’ll only feel some mild short-term discomfort.
Second-degree burns – They affect your skin’s top and lower layers. They often cause swelling and blisters, which lead to extended pain and discomfort.
Third-degree burns – These scorching burns can damage all three skin layers – epidermis, dermis, and fat. They can even damage your nerve endings, hair follicles, and sweat glands. They require careful medical supervision and take a long time to fully heal. The affected area may appear to be black, white, or red with a leathery appearance. You’re likely to deal with a long spell of pain throughout the recovery process.
Fourth-degree burns – These burns can destroy all three skin layers and damage the underlying tissue, muscles, and bones. They have the highest fatality rates and require urgent and extensive hospitalization.
Psychological and Emotional Impact
Burn injuries may leave visible scars, but it’s hard for others to see the mental scars you go through. The pain lasts deep into the recovery process, which makes it impossible for you to focus on anything else. It’s almost impossible to deal with them without heavy doses of painkillers.
The scars and disfiguring caused by the burns can damage your self-image. So it’s important to measure the impact of both physical and psychological issues to determine your compensation after an accident.
Several burn victims have to go through a long phase of therapy to cope with their anxiety, depression, and PTSD after the accident. These psychological issues coupled with their painful physical injuries can push them into a downward spiral. They struggle to recover their old quality of life.
They may end up losing their job and unable to maintain their social relationships. Let’s not forget the tremendous financial stress of medical bills and rehab during the recovery process.
Burn centers are known for providing mental health support to all victims. It’s important to get an evaluation from them after your injury. Your car accident lawyer will be able to document these non-economic damages with more credibility.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries in Car Accidents
Here are the most common causes of burn injuries in car accidents:
- Chemical burns caused by airbag deployment – Airbags release an aerosol of alkaline chemicals when they’re deployed during a crash. They can cause minor injuries.
- Vehicle battery explosion – Lithium-ion battery malfunctions can trigger a sudden release of inflammable gasses that are hard to contain. Several electric bikes and cars have reported such incidents so far. Electric battery fires are difficult to extinguish and may end up causing severe injuries to the victims.
- Friction – A high-speed collision leads to many metallic surfaces aggressively rubbing against each other. This causes tremendous friction that can trigger a spark and ignite a fire.
- Electric shock – A car crash can expose you to live electrical wires or high-voltage batteries. They can cause serious electrical burns.
- Explosions – Fuel tank damage, gas leaks, or battery chemical leaks can trigger explosive reactions that can cause severe damage. The force of a blast can burn the victim’s flesh and throw dangerous shrapnel at them that makes their burn wounds worse.
Symptoms and Health Complications
Here’s how doctors generally qualify the severity of your burn injuries:
- Minor burns – These are usually first or second-degree burns covering less than 10 percent of your body. They can easily be treated and don’t have any long-lasting impact. They often get treated within two to three weeks.
- Moderate burns – Second-degree burns that affect a little over 10% of the body are considered moderate burns. However, they can have a more severe impact on your daily lifestyle if they affect your face, hands, feet, or genitals.
- Severe burns – Any third-degree or fourth-degree burns that affect over one percent of your body are classified as severe burns. Treating them isn’t easy as they can lead to a ton of complications during the recovery process. Electrical burns may trigger heart issues. You may develop sepsis, fluid loss, respiratory problems, swelling, organ failure, low blood pressure, or pneumonia. Severe burn victims often require physical and occupational therapy to regain functionality in their joints. The high likelihood of permanent scars and disfigurement makes them easy victims of PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Parties Liable for Car Accident-Related Burn Injuries
Severe burn injuries demand serious compensation to cope with the difficult road to recovery ahead. You’re setting yourself up for a financial crisis if you’re not prepared to stand up for your rights. So you need to find ways to maximize your settlement. One of the ways to do that is to identify all liable parties involved in your case. The driver at fault may not necessarily share absolute liability for the accident.
There could be a number of other parties involved like other drivers, employers, vehicle manufacturers, and government agencies. For instance, a government agency could be held liable for poor road conditions that led to the vehicles losing control. Or the car manufacturer could be held liable for chemical burns caused by an airbag malfunction.
You need to gather evidence from a variety of sources to prove how they breached the duty of care they owed you. You need to convincingly prove that their neglectful actions led to your accident and damages.
Only a skilled car accident lawyer will be able to lead a rigorous investigation to build a strong claim. Our team also taps into a wide network of expert witnesses to back up your claim. You need to do your best to preserve evidence from the accident scene and maintain a transparent record of all your expenses tied to the car accident.
The Role of Legal Representation
Your lawyer will work to ensure you remain financially equipped to deal with your recovery. They will take on insurers and lawyers who are desperately trying to delay, deny, or underpay your claim.
They are fully prepared to lead their own investigation to pick up valuable pieces of evidence you have missed. And when it’s time to negotiate with the liable parties, they know when it’s favorable to escalate and when to settle. Our lawyers will take charge of this whole legal process while you peacefully recover. We’ll keep you regularly updated about your case breakthroughs and answer all your legal questions.
The Advocacy of Isaacs & Isaacs
Isaacs & Isaacs has helped severe burn injury victims get fully compensated for their short-term and long-term recovery. We are experienced with burn injury cases and take a compassionate and detail-oriented approach to simplify your legal journey.
You can work with us on a contingency fee basis, which means we’ll take on all the financial burden of your legal case till we win your case. You only have to pay us when you get your settlement.