Each year in the United States alone, roughly 485,000 people are admitted to the hospital or visit emergency rooms to treat burn injuries, according to the American Burn Association1.
The truth is that the number is likely even higher, with countless people choosing to forego medical care or treat minor burn injuries at home.
Burn injuries are among the most serious and painful injuries anyone can suffer. A burn can leave a person with debilitating pain and lifelong scars that serve as a daily reminder of the trauma.
What most people don’t realize is that many burn injuries are caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. Find out more about burn injuries and how victims may be able to file lawsuits.
Burns from fires account for the vast majority of burn injuries every year. However, they’re not the only type. Here are the four most common types of burn injuries.
Thermal burns, which are burns resulting from contact with heat, are by far the most common types. Burns from fires and hot liquids make up the bulk of these types of injuries. Burns can also occur from steam, excessively hot showers, hot cooking oil, and more.
Scalds are the most common types of thermal burn injuries in children while fires most commonly cause thermal burns in adults.
Chemical burns happen when skin is exposed to corrosive chemicals, such as alkalis, bases, acids, and oxidizers. Although chemical burns only account for up to 10.7 percent of all burns2, they account for up to 30 percent of all burn deaths.
More than 25,000 substances can cause chemical burns, such as chemicals found in paint removers, bleach, rust removers, and more. Chemical burns have also been known to come from chemical weapons like mustard gas. These types of burns can be painful or even asymptomatic until well after the incident.
Electrical burns are caused by high levels of electricity passing through the body. Within electrical burns, there are different categories. These include low-voltage burns, high-voltage burns, arc burns, flash burns, flame burns, and oral burns.
These types of injuries cause up to 1,000 deaths a year in the United States3. Adults who suffer electrical burns usually come from the workplace while children usually suffer electrical burns from household items. Common causes of electrical burns are lightning strikes, biting wires, sticking objects in outlets, and touching power lines.
Radiation burns most commonly manifest themselves as burns from ultraviolet radiation — better known as sunburn. However, exposure to X-rays, thermal radiation, and medical imaging technology can also cause radiation burns.
Others have suffered more serious radiation burns from exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear bombs or nuclear accidents.
Depending on the severity of the burn, it will fall into one of our categories.
First-degree burns are the mildest types of burns, with only the superficial skin layers suffering injury. This type of burn will typically result in redness and slight pain that lasts about three days. It can take up to 10 days for the wound to fully heal.
A second-degree burn extends further into the underlying layer of skin called the dermis. Like the previous type of burn, there will be redness and pain. There may also be some blistering. Second-degree burns are sometimes separated into two classifications, depending on how deep the burn penetrates.
Third-degree burns are also called full-thickness burns because they extend to all the layers of the skin. With both the epidermis and dermis destroyed, the skin may turn black, white, brown, or yellow and become leathery. There is surprisingly little to no pain because nerve endings have been destroyed. The pain does become more pronounced during the healing process.
How the burn is treated depends on the location and extent of the burn, but skin grafts or surgeries will often be necessary.
This type of burn typically extends past the skin and into the underlying fat, muscle, or bone. It will appear black, dry, and charred. Pain will also be absent due to the destruction of nerve endings. Amputation may be necessary in some cases.
As technology and medical knowledge have advanced, modern burn care has become more streamlined. Medscape divides burn care into four general phases.
The first phase starts when the injury takes place. The goal of this beginning phase is to ensure the patient is not losing too much blood and that the vital organs are functioning properly.
In conjunction with the emergent phase, the resuscitation phase begins. Fluid is administered to the patient to help maintain proper hydration, blood levels, and vital organ function. Without resuscitation, the patient could go into shock.
The acute phase starts between 48 to 72 hours after the burn and can last for weeks or months. Once fluid resuscitation is completed or stabilized, healing and treatment of the burn injury begins. This phase lasts until the wounds have closed.
This final phase sees the rehabilitation of the patient. This can also deal with the reconstruction of the burn site, which can start as early as the emergent process but doesn’t really ramp up until the end of the acute phase. During the rehabilitative phase, therapy and emotional support may be offered.
Burn injuries are some of the most painful and debilitating injuries — both physically and mentally. Fortunately, most burns are preventable, according to the World Health Organization4.
The organization points out that increased awareness, prevention policies, research, and more can help minimize the number of burn injuries suffered every year. However, many burn injuries are caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of others.
Two of the most common locations for burn injuries are at home or work. In apartment buildings, landlords have a responsibility to ensure tenants are safe from hazards that could result in burn injuries. For example, a landlord must make sure electrical wiring is functioning properly and safely installed. If not, a child or adult could suffer electrical burns.
When landlords fail to carry out their duty, they could be held accountable in the court.
Other causes of burn injuries that can result in lawsuits include (but are not limited to):
In order to file a lawsuit against someone for burn injuries, you must be able to prove that they were negligent. Without the proper understanding of the law or legal responsibilities of landlords or employers, it can be difficult to make a case. This is where an experienced attorney comes in.
Attorneys have the knowledge and experience gathering evidence and walking victims of burn injuries through the entire process. Not only that but lawyers can also help get victims the maximum amount of compensation for things like lost wages, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and even diminished quality of life.
If you suffered a burn injury from someone else’s negligence, contact an attorney immediately.
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