Almost two million people in the United States suffer burn injuries each year. Over 300,000 of those burns are severe, resulting in 6,000 deaths each year. In fact, the third leading cause of unintentional death in our country is from burn injuries. While sometimes such burn injuries are caused by the individual’s carelessness – getting to close to a fire, spilling a pot of water – oftentimes burns are caused by the carelessness of another. Personal injury lawsuits may be filed against the manufacturer of a faulty dryer or other defective product which caused a fire or a chemical company for failing to warn of the burn hazard associated with its product.
Classification of Burns
First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of skin. Such burns are typically superficial and only cause swelling, redness, and mild pain. Sunburn, for example, certainly causes discomfort but it usually not serious and will heal on its own over time.
Second-degree burns on the other hand, are quite serious as they can damages several layers of the skin. While first-degree burns only affect the epidermis, a second-degree burn will go beyond the outer layer, to the dermis. Second-degree burns can be either superficial (only affecting the outer layers of the dermis) or “deep” (affecting the inner layers of the dermis). Superficial second-degree burns will cause pain, sensitivity, redness and blisters. Deep second-degree burns will appear dry and white and will be very painful to the touch. Typically, second-degree burns will heal with treatment and will not require surgery. However, skin grafting may be used on individuals who have extensive burns. It is quite common to experience scarring from second-degree burns.
Third-degree burns are very serious. Such burns affect both layers of the skin and the underlying tissue. The burns will appear brown or black and will have a leathery appearance. It surprises most people to learn that third-degree burns, while the most serious, do not cause pain. This is because all of the nerves are usually destroyed by the burn, causing permanent damage. Skin grafting is almost always required.
Types of Burns
Thermal burns are the most common type of burn. These burns typically result from automobile accidents, home fires, matches, gasoline, flame burns, hot liquid, hot grease, heaters or other electrical malfunctions. Thermal burns also include “flash injuries”, which are burns that are caused by explosions.
Chemical burns are technically those caused by the conversion of chemical energy to thermal energy. Essentially, these burns are caused by tissue exposure to a strong acid. The severity of a chemical burn will depend on how long the skin is in contact with the hazardous chemical. If your skin is in contact with a burning chemical, be sure to flush the skin with large amounts of water to prevent continued damage.
Electrical burns occur when an electrical current runs directly from an external source into the body. These burns can cause the individual to incur internal burns in several areas including the point of entry and exit as well as all of the muscles and tissues in between. Electrical burns can prove to be quite serious as the bones, blood vessels and nerves can be damages. It is not uncommon for the individual to experience a heart attack from the shock of the burn.
A burn attorney should have the knowledge necessary to help you obtain compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. As a St. Louis injury attorney, I represent individuals in both Missouri and Illinois suffering from burn injuries of all types. If you have been injured, please contact us for a free evaluation at (800) 517-0602.