When a blaze erupts, life can change in an instant. A fire can cause people to suffer severe burns, permanent injuries, expensive medical bills, and lifelong physical and emotional trauma. As a result, the expenses surrounding burn injuries can be astronomical, which is why victims of fires need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. While we cannot undo the pain that resulted in the fire, we can help burn victims get their finances and lives back in order.
Causes of Burn Injuries
Because burn injuries can cost victims more than physical and financial trauma, it is important that burn victims find out about their legal options — no matter what the cause of the fire. Don’t wait too long to contact an attorney because there are certain time limits that may apply, depending on the type of accident and fire you were involved in.
Some of the most common causes of fires include:
- Home and residential fires
- Commercial and industrial fires
- Car accident fires
- Truck accident fires
- Motorcycle fires
- Defective vehicle fires
- Defective product fires
No matter the cause of the fire, when someone suffers a burn, it can quickly advance from the skin’s surface to the sweat glands and internal organs. Within moments of a severe burn, a victim’s heart is affected and the heat from the burn amplifies pain receptors in the body. Therefore, a person can be severely affected by a fire and can suffer a catastrophic burn.
Types of Burn Injuries
Because there are various types and levels of burns, people who suffer burn injuries may be affected differently. While some victims can suffer permanent life-altering injuries, others may be able to heal pretty quickly. For example, someone who suffers a first-degree burn will sustain a superficial burn that results in pain and swelling in the skin, and recovery after a first-degree burn is fairly fast. When someone suffers a second-degree burn, he or she will develop a slightly deeper burn that will cause pain, swelling, redness and blistering of the skin, but the burn that extends to the second layer of the skin will also heal over time. However, some second-degree burns progress into third-degree burns.
When someone sustains a third-degree burn, the burn extends through the deepest layers of the skin and damage to the cell tissue is so extensive. As a result, the nerve endings are destroyed. When third-degree burns cause damage to the underlying muscles, bones, and tendons, it is considered a fourth-degree burn. Sadly, both third- and fourth-degree burns can lead to permanent injuries, disfigurement, and death.
Although there are differences amid each burn level, all burn injuries are classified by the type of action that caused them, including:
- Thermal burns. These are the most common type of burn suffered due to the type of heat source, such as steam, hot liquids, hot metal, and open flames. Thermal burns are often mild but can be severe depending on the layers of skin affected.
- Chemical burns. These types of burns are caused by acidic compounds that react with the skin, such as bleach, paint thinner, gasoline, and lye. They can be more dangerous than thermal burns, as they are often made worse because people do not know how to care for them.
- Electrical burns. These types of burns cause more subdermal damage than chemical or thermal burns, and they can take place anywhere there is faulty wiring, such as inside homes, in old buildings, on construction sites, or after accidents where wires are exposed. When a person comes in contact with an electrical source, a burn can result from the current passing through the body.
While minor burns can be treated at home, people who have suffered any type of burn should have a doctor asses the burn. Depending on the type of burn and severity of the burn, burn victim will need various treatments.
Treating Burn Injuries
Anyone who suffers a burn of any level should seek immediate medical treatment and should also speak with an attorney as soon as possible about their legal rights. Any burn can cause complications and lead to bacterial infections and shock. This is why treatment and recovery for burn victims can include:
- Hospitalization in specialized burn unit
- Pain management
- Skin grafts
- Numerous surgeries
Burn victims need to make sure they receive thorough medical treatment, which can be expensive. Not only can the cost of treating a burn injury add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the cost of living after a serious burn injury can increase — especially due to lost wages, counseling costs, and other related expenses.
Long-Term Effects of Burn Injuries
Approximately 500,000 people are seriously injured from burns every year, according to the American Burn Association. Of that half million, 40,000 will have an extended hospital stay, and an estimated 3,240 will die as a result of their exposure to fire, flames, and smoke. Sadly, many victims of burn injuries — even with extensive treatment — will have to live with the following long-term effects:
- Physical impairment
- Emotional and social difficulties
- Nerve damage
In addition to these effects, burn injuries accompanied by inhalation injuries can lead to permanent brain damage. To make matters worse, insurance companies will often attempt to deny, delay or offer burn victims too low of settlements.
Because burn victims should receive a fair recovery, it is important to an injury case that a skilled lawyer help determine whether your burn was caused by faulty manufacturing, improper service, or defects. At Shevlin Smith, we have the experience and knowledge to hold negligent companies and individuals responsible for fire injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury after a car accident or other type of accident, we will help bring the responsible party to justice. Complete the contact form on this page, or call us today for a free consultation at (703) 591-0067.