Burns are very common in the United States, with more than a million significant burn injuries each year. Only vehicle crash/collisions and falls cause a greater number of emergency room trauma visits. Burns may result from automobile, truck and RV crashes, industrial accidents, house fires, exposure to chemicals, or to electrical shock.
As a result of a burn injury, the entire structure and normal functioning of the human body is disrupted. The skin protects the movement and containment of electrolytes and fluids, and disruption of this protective barrier can lead to death.
Minor burns are painful, but deeper burns are often life-threatening. Blistering occurs with second degree burns, but third degree, deeper burns are the really severe ones. The respiratory system, bones, nerves and muscles are often involved. Rapid fluid replacement is essential to prevent death. Respiration may become difficult or impossible, due to internal changes in blood chemistry, as well as inhalation of smoke. The body may not properly control its own temperature.
Healing times for burn injuries is long and infection is an always-present threat, as well as a big killer, even in the face of powerful antibiotics and strict isolation techniques. The cosmetic damage associated with deep burns commonly result in devastating psychological effects. Changes in motor function of both arms and legs are often debilitating. Hand dexterity is frequently impaired, and interferes with a thousand things you could previously do with ease. These types of burn injuries usually require extended recovery times and nearly continuous lengthy periods of physical therapy, to recoup as much normal ability as possible.
The Types of Burns
Burn injuries are categorized by the amount and type of damage they do:
- First-Degree Burns — These are the least serious type of burns, only the outer layer of skin is damaged. These burns are red and painful, but usually heal within a few days. Hospitalization isn’t usually necessary for a first-degree burn. Example: a typical sunburn without blisters.
- Second-Degree Burns — Second-degree burns may be classified in one of two ways: partial thickness or full thickness. A partial thickness burn may have blisters, and usually involves damage to both the outer layer of skin known as the epidermis, and the upper layers of the dermis underneath. A partial thickness burn may be pink or red and look wet. Healing may take a few weeks and usually doesn’t require grafting. A full thickness burn involves destruction of the epidermis and most of the dermis. The burn may be red or white and usually will look dry. You may experience some loss of sensation with this kind of burn. Usually these are very painful and require a skin graft.
- Third-Degree Burns — Third-degree burns are very serious. These involve destruction of every layer of skin. They may look black or white, and may look leathery. Typically little or no pain is felt with this kind of burn and scarring is likely to be severe.
- Fourth-Degree Burns — Most people haven’t heard of this type of burn and think that a third-degree burn is the worst that can happen. A fourth-degree burn is a burn that’s so bad it destroys the skin and damages the muscle and bone underneath. These burns are often fatal.
- Fifth and Sixth Degree Burns — These burns destroy skin, muscle, tendons, and ligaments — everything down to the bone — and are virtually always fatal.
Burns can require extensive plastic surgery and lengthy recovery time that also results in significant medical costs your family may not be able to afford.
If you or a loved one have experienced burn injuries because of another party’s negligent or reckless conduct, let us help. Our goal is to secure the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Contact us today.