A burn injury can be excruciatingly painful and is one of the most dangerous types of injuries the body can endure due to the fact that the most serious burns affect more than the outer layer of skin. Severe burns often require multiple skin grafting surgeries and victims may experience severe blood loss and dehydration as well as a higher risk of infection. Burn injuries can also take a great deal of time to recover from.
If you’ve been in an accident or incident that was not your fault and sustained serious burn injuries, it may be a comfort to know that legal help is available to you. With the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable Omaha burn injury lawyer, you and your family might be able to recover financial costs that can help you pay for medical bills, hospital time, lost wage costs, and even additional pain and suffering costs.
First, let’s go over some of the facts about burn injuries and what you need to know about your options.
What Are the Types of Burns?
Burn injuries are caused by many different types of accidents and incidents, but most are due to fire or extreme heat. Burns are commonly put into categories based on what caused the burn. Recovery can be significantly impacted by the cause. The following are possible burn injury sources:
- Flame Burns. These are caused by direct contact with an open flame. The severity of the injury depends on how much of the body was exposed to the flame and for how long, in addition to the heat of the flame.
- Flash Burns. Exposed parts of the body can be seriously damaged when there is a rapid ignition of a flammable gas or liquid. The face and hands are often most at risk.
- Scalds. Ranging greatly in severity, scalds result from contact with hot liquids.
- Contact Burns. Direct contact with hot objects like cooking appliances can result in serious burns. Equipment that radiates at extreme temperatures can also cause contact burns.
- Electrical Burns. These injuries occur when electricity gets passed through the skin tissue – like from faulty wiring. While these burns typically do not look serious on the outside, there may be significant internal or deep damage. This can make them particularly difficult to treat.
- Chemical Burns. When skin is exposed to a caustic substance with a strong base or acid, it is susceptible to burns. These commonly occur while coming into contact with household cleaners like bleach. People that work with industrial chemicals are also at risk.
- Steam Burns. While any appliance under extreme steam pressure can cause injuries, steam burns are most common during industrial accidents. These can be particularly dangerous because of the high heat-carrying capacity of the steam.
Which Accidents Commonly Result in Burn Injuries?
The majority of burn accidents occur in the home; however, they’re also likely to happen at work, on the street or highway, or during recreational or sports activities. While any accident could result in a burn, there are certain ones that are more likely to because of what’s involved and how the accidents happen.
- Automobiles Crashes. If a car’s engine is seriously damaged during a wreck, there’s a chance it could catch fire. If the vehicle’s occupants are trapped or unconscious, the situation could quickly turn deadly. If a tractor-trailer is hauling a flammable substance and rolls over or collides with another vehicle or a fixed object, a fire could also break out.
- Defective Products. Manufacturers are supposed to ensure their products are safe for public use. Dangerous products that aren’t tested or released too early can spark and overheat and cause an injury. Defective products that use batteries or combustible fuel sources are the most dangerous.
- Workplace Fires. There are higher fire risks with certain jobs. When a fire breaks out in the workplace, people may panic instead of following protocol. This can quickly result in injuries that could have been prevented.
- Electrocutions. Electrical burns are most common after someone is exposed to an electrical current. Someone who experiences these burns is likely to sustain significant damage to their cardiovascular system, respiratory system, and central nervous system. Death is possible.
- Accidental Chemical Exposure. Individuals who work in labs with toxic chemicals could be at risk for burn injuries. Chemical exposure is also likely in the home. If a child is left around chemicals like bleach, concrete mix, pool chlorinators, or cleaning products, they could be seriously injured.
- Gas Explosions. There are millions of miles of gas pipelines across the United States. Many of these were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. Because of their age, gas explosions are an increasing concern. Accidents like this can also happen any place propane, natural gas, or other fuels are used like with propane tank grills, water heaters, and gas furnaces.
How Are Burns Medically Categorized?
Burns are classified by degree depending on how deeply they penetrate the surface of the skin. The consequences and treatments vary greatly depending on the severity.
First-degree burns are superficial and only affect the epidermis – the outer layer of skin. The burn site will be painful, dry, and red; however, it will not blister. The pain can last anywhere from 48 to 72 hours before it subsides. It is likely the blister will peel. A mild sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn.
These burns are treated based on the extent, location, and cause of the burn. They usually heal on their own within a week; however, cold compresses, ointments and lotions, and ibuprofen or acetaminophen can ease the pain and make recovery easier.
Second-degree burns are also referred to as partial thickness burns. They penetrate the epidermis and the dermis layer of skin. Similar to a first-degree burn, it will appear red and be painful; however, it is likely to blister. The injury site may appear wet and shiny, and the burn can be white or discolored in an irregular pattern. Flames, scalds, chemicals, and contact with hot objects can result in this type of burn.
These burns can typically heal within three weeks when the wound is kept clean and protected. Deeper burns may take longer to heal. Generally, if the burn does not cover more than ten percent of the skin’s surface, it can be treated in an outpatient setting. Treatment may include antibiotic ointments, dressing changes, daily cleanings to remove dead skin, and possibly systemic antibiotics.
A third-degree burn is referred to as a full thickness burn. It destroys the outer layer of skin and the entire layer beneath. Many of these burns are caused by scalding liquids, flames, electrical sources, or chemical sources. The skin will likely appear dry and leathery. It may be black, white, brown, or yellow depending on the severity. It’s likely there will be no pain associated with the injury because the nerve endings will have been destroyed.
It is best to seek immediate medical treatment for this type of injury. Early cleaning and debriding will be needed. This procedure involves removing dead skin and tissue from the area. It’s likely intravenous fluids and antibiotics will be administered. With the most severe burns, skin grafts may be necessary to close the wounded area because new skin will not grow. These injuries can take months to fully heal.
What Are the Implications Associated with Burn Injuries?
Burn injuries are more common than many people believe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 4,500 people die every year from burn injuries in the United States. Roughly 50,000 people every year are hospitalized for the same reason, and over one million are estimated to require some type of medical treatment for burns.
Serious burn injuries can be life-threatening and can lead to lifelong complications and conditions. For many burn injury victims, the long term effects of the burns are difficult to predict since the recovery process tends to take time and may worsen as the damaged skin is exposed to air. Conditions can rapidly change during the recovery process. Many burn injury victims must undergo amputation if the lower layers of skin become infected.
These types of injuries can cause a family an incredible amount of stress and financial turmoil, especially if multiple skin grafts and surgeries are required. If you or a loved one has suffered from severe burn injuries after a car accident or other type of accident that was not the victim’s fault, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation that can bring a family peace of mind and aid the recovery process.
How Can Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO Aid in Your Recovery?
At Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO, we can pair you with an Omaha lawyer who can tell you the merits of your case and how we can be of assistance. If your injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for what you’ve been through. Our law office has helped many personal injury victims in the state of Nebraska and we can help you, too. Contact us to find out more or receive a free case consultation.