Burn injuries rank among the most severe and painful experiences a person can endure. It also ranks among the most lethal and can lead to lifelong disabilities and disfigurement. You might receive compensation if you or your loved ones have suffered burn injuries because of someone else’s negligence or malicious intent. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have a strong case.
What Is a Burn Injury?
A burn injury occurs when heat, chemicals, electricity, friction, or radiation comes in contact with the skin and causes damage. The severity of a burn depends on how deep the damage goes below the skin’s surface. Consequently, medical professionals categorize it into three distinct types.
First-degree burns only affect the top layer of skin and usually heal on their own within a week. Medical professionals also refer to these superficial burns as “superficial partial-thickness” burns. While they are the mildest of burns, they still typically cause redness, swelling and pain.
Second-degree burns, also known as “partial-thickness” burns, damage the first and second layers of skin. These more severe burns often result in blisters and are extremely painful. They can take weeks or even months to heal and often result in scarring.
Also called “full-thickness” burns, third-degree burns lead to damage to all the layers of skin and the underlying tissues. These burns often require skin grafts and can be fatal.
What Are Some Common Causes of Burns?
Burns can arise in some of the most unlikely settings. For example, some children have experienced burn injuries after adults failed to get them inside in time during thunderstorms. Consider these additional sources of burns:
- Fire: This is the leading cause of burns, especially in children. Whether it’s a house fire, a car accident, or a work-related accident, fires can cause devastating burn injuries.
- Hot liquids: Spilled coffee, tea, soup, and other hot liquids can cause first-degree and second-degree burns. These types of burns are commonly referred to as “scalding” injuries.
- Chemicals: One moment, you’re cleaning the house or at work, and the next, you’re dealing with a painful chemical burn. These injuries can occur when you come into contact with strong acids, cleaning solutions, and other corrosive materials.
- Electricity: Electric shocks can cause severe burns, especially if the electricity passes through the body for an extended period. This can happen if you come into contact with downed power lines or defective electrical equipment.
- Explosions: An explosion can cause first, second, and third-degree burns, depending on the victim’s proximity to the blast. These accidents often occur in industrial settings, such as oil refineries and chemical plants.
What Should You Do After a Burn Injury?
Knowing what to do in the immediate seconds or minutes after a burn injury can save lives and preserve the quality of life for that person. It can also help you determine whether people who responded to the scene acted appropriately, such as people trained in administering First Aid while awaiting further assistance from paramedics.
The steps you take after a burn injury will depend on the severity of the burn and how many people are available to help. If you’re alone and have suffered a first-degree or second-degree burn, hold the affected area under cool running water for at least five minutes or until the pain subsides. You can also use a cold compress, but don’t apply ice directly to the burn.
If you have a third-degree burn or any burn that affects your face, hands, feet, genitals, or joints, call for medical help immediately. Medical professionals do not recommend that you try to treat the injury yourself. These burns require immediate professional medical attention.
Most health care professionals recommend seeking medical attention even if your burns do not seem severe. Chemical burns, for example, might further irritate the skin if not treated properly. This can turn a superficial burn into a severe and lifelong complication. Should you later decide to seek compensation, the court might hold you at least partially liable for not seeking care.
What Are Some Common, Long-Term Complications of Burns?
The key to preventing many long-term complications is to receive immediate medical attention. Once you have received treatment for your burns, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s orders and keep all follow-up appointments. Doing so reduces the risk of some of the most common long-term complications of burn injuries:
- Infection: Infection is a leading cause of death in burn patients. When the skin is burned, it no longer provides a barrier against bacteria and other organisms that can cause infection. Infections can also occur at the site of a skin graft.
- Nerve damage: Severe burns can damage the nerves beneath the skin, causing numbness, tingling and pain. In some cases, the nerve damage is permanent.
- Hypertrophic scarring: Also called “keloid scars,” these are raised, thickened scars that can occur after a healing wound. They can be painful and itchy and may limit your range of motion.
- Contractures: A contracture is a condition in which the skin and underlying tissues heal in a way that causes the joints to freeze in one position. This can limit motion.
- Disfigurement: Severe burns can cause permanent disfigurement. This can lead to social isolation, anxiety and depression. If the disfigurement is on the face or another visible part of the body, you might also have difficulty finding or keeping a job.
- Psychological effects: The psychological effects of burn injuries can be just as debilitating as the physical effects. Many burn survivors suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
How Can You Get Compensation for a Burn Injury?
After a burn injury, your ability to collect compensation depends on a few things. The first and perhaps, the most important is whether negligence plays a role. If you suffered burns because of someone else’s carelessness, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.
For example, consider the case of a business that failed to keep up with maintenance and inspections of its sprinklers and alarms. A fire starts in the building and neither the alarm nor the sprinklers come on. Occupants only know of the fire because of the smoke that has now made it difficult to escape.
Everyone survives, but some people suffer respiratory illnesses and others have severe burn injuries. These persons may have the opportunity to bring a suit against the property manager, the landlord, the business owner or the insurance company. An experienced attorney would review the commercial lease agreement and local laws to determine who to hold accountable for the fire system failure.
The attorney will also need to dig deeper into what caused the fire and piece together what happened that day. All the details play a crucial role in determining liability, identifying negligence and pointing to the causes of injuries.
The attorney then uses this information to file a claim and negotiate with the liable parties. If negotiations fail, the next step is filing a lawsuit and going to court.
Can a Utah Burn Injury Lawyer Help You Win Your Case?
Experience is not enough. You also need a team with a strong record of winning. While we do not win every case, we fight hard for our clients and have built a strong reputation for delivering results. Our team has recovered more than $1.2 billion for our clients over the past 30 years.
You Need An Attorney Who’ll Fight For Your Rights
Our accident and injury attorneys fight for fairness.
No one can undo a tragedy, but everyone who’s been injured deserves to be treated fairly. If you’ve suffered a burn or electrical injury as the result of someone else’s negligence and you’re not being treated fairly, you need an experienced attorney to sort out your case and protect your rights.
When you work with us, you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, accident reports, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure that everybody plays by the rules and treats you fairly.
- We’ll help you get what you need to move forward with your life.
Contact Siegfried & Jensen today for a free, no-pressure consultation.