Types of Burn Injury Claims: Causes & Liability
In the United States, burn accidents are incredibly prevalent. In fact, according to studies by Johns Hopkins, fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of accidental deaths in children and adults and account for almost 3,500 deaths annually.
Although most burn injury accidents are minor and only result in minimal pain and redness, burn injuries can result in severe consequences, causing debilitating injuries, intense scars, and long-lasting physical damage that will forever impact a victim and their family.
However, if you have been harmed in a burn injury accident because of another person’s wrongful or negligent actions, you deserve justice and compensation for the injuries you sustained. That is why in this blog, we will dive into this topic of burn injuries, and discuss their causes, how they are categorized, and the legal recourse you can pursue following a burn injury accident.
Burn Injuries — What Are They Exactly?
A burn is often defined as damage to the tissue. Yet, even though these injuries usually result in a minor medical problem, they can also escalate to life-threatening injuries or cause lasting damage that will affect a person’s bones, muscles, and skin and may even require the individual to get long-term medical care.
Common Types of Burn Injuries
Although most people associate a burn injury with an open flame, there are in fact many other causes of this devastating injury, including:
- Friction Burns: These types of burns often result when a hard object rubs off a person’s skin. Friction burns are considered to be both a scrape or abrasion and a heat burn and are typically caused by motorcycle and bike crashes. Yet, carpet burns can also cause this friction burn injury.
- Cold Burns: A cold burn is also referred to as a “frostbite” and often results when the cold causes damage to the skin by freezing it. These burns generally develop when a person is outside in freezing temperatures without proper clothing or layers. Yet, they can also result from a person’s skin coming into direct contact with a cold surface for an extended period of time.
- Radiation Burns: These types of burns are usually caused by radiation that damages the skin, organs, and tissues. For instance, sunburns are a common type of radiation burn. However, X-rays and radiation therapy can also result in radiation burn injuries.
- Thermal Burns: A thermal burn results in a skin injury when the skin touches a hot surface, steam, flame, or hot object. Generally, the injury will result because the temperature in your skin will begin to rise to the point where your skin cells will start to die. Thankfully, most of these thermal burns are minor and can often be treated as an outpatient procedure.
- Electrical Burns: Typically, electrical burns result when the body comes into contact with an electrical current. As a result, the electricity can travel through the body and cause tissue and organ damage and result in mild to severe injuries, and in some cases, even death.
- Chemical Burns: These burns, also referred to as caustic burns, happen when the skin or the eyes come into contact with an irritant such as an acid or a base and cause a reaction within your body or on your skin. If the chemical is swallowed, it can also cause severe internal organ damage.
Classifying Burn Injuries — How Severe Are They?
Typically, a medical care professional will have to examine your burn to figure out its severity. To do this, they will evaluate the extent of the skin damage that resulted from the burn and then group your burn into a category referred to as a degree.
Generally, there are three main burn severity categories. They include the following:
- First-degree burn: This burn is considered a superficial wound, as it only affects the first layer of the skin. First-degree burns usually do not require any medical treatment but may become rather painful and require a health care professional for further pain management. These burns are often categorized by redness and minor inflammation and can usually heal within a week.
- Second-degree burns: A second-degree burn will often appear wet or moist and affect the first two layers of the skin, also known as the dermis and the epidermis. Usually, these burns will blister, and the pain can become severe since they often result in tissue damage. A second-degree burn will often result from overexposure to radiation, chemicals, electrical content, or the sun. Although these burns can heal in a few weeks, scarring is usually expected.
- Third-degree burns: These burns are dangerous and can become life-threatening if an individual does not get emergency medical attention immediately. Third-degree burns often reach the fat layer beneath the skin and destroy all the dermis and epidermis tissue. The burned skin appears black, brown, or white and can take on a leathery appearance. These third-degree burns can also destroy the pain-sensing nerves and cause numbness at the location of the burn.
Some medical journals do include a fourth-degree burn category, but since burns of this intensity are not often considered survivable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not include them in their data.
Common Accidents That Can Lead to a Burn Injury
Burn injuries can occur for a variety of reasons. However, the most common incidents that often lead to a burn injury include:
- Home or apartment fires
- Trucking accidents
- Car accidents
- Cooking fires
- Oil rig accidents
- Propane tank explosions
- Hot plate accidents
- Hot tea or coffee spills
- Chemical spills such as bleach, chlorine, or other substances
- Industrial fires
- Electrical cord fires
Damages Available in a Burn Accident Injury Claim
Usually, there are two types of damages that you can pursue in a burn accident injury claim. They include special damages and general damages.
- Special Damages: These damages refer to losses and expenses that are easily quantifiable following an accident, including medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and other out-of-pocket costs.
- General Damages: These damages refer to somewhat subjective losses that are not easily measurable, such as emotional trauma, physical disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment and quality of life. These damages are often referred to as pain and suffering.
Proving Liability After a Burn Accident
Once the severity and the source of the burn injury are established, it is time to consider accountability for your injuries and what happened. This is because obtaining compensation for your burn injuries will rely on your ability to bring relevant evidence showing fault and damages, as well as sound legal arguments proving your claim. Fortunately, you will not have to go through this challenging legal battle on your own. At the Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC, our experienced burn injury lawyers are here for you, ready to take on this fight and go after the financial recovery you are entitled to.
That is why if a burn injury disrupted your life or the life of a loved one, do not wait any longer to get the legal help you need. Instead, contact the Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC today for a free case consultation or call our office at (504) 294-5094, and let our lawyers show you how we can fight for you and your rights and the justice you deserve.