A burn injury is an injury that is caused by heat, radiation, chemicals or electricity and can be caused by a variety of circumstances in which there is negligence or a product defect. Serious burns, particularly third degree burns and those involving a large surface area, can be life threatening. Burn injuries are complicated injuries; they affect not only the skin but muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and bone. Burns also affect body temperature, body fluids, dexterity, and physical appearance. A severe burn injury may have far-reaching consequences in terms of emotional and psychological damage. This damage may last for years.
Types of Burn Injuries
Radiation Burns- Radiation burns may be caused by X-rays, radiation therapy for cancer treatment, or tanning beds. Sunburn also falls under the category of radiation burns. Even a malfunctioning (halide) light bulb can cause radiation burns; the bulbs – often used in places such as school gyms, where their bright light can illuminate the large space – may crack and expose people to short-wave radiation. Radiation burns can come from unusual sources.
Thermal Burns- Thermal burn injury is common and may be caused by flame, steam, hot metals, hot oil or grease, hot liquids (“scald burns”), fireworks, space heaters, electrical malfunctions, or improperly stored flammable liquids such as gasoline. Thermal burns resulting from explosions – such as from gas tanks, car accidents, boat accidents, and airplane accidents – can be swift and severe when fuel and clothing ignite.
Inhalation Burns-A burn injury to the airways can be caused by inhaling smoke, steam, or toxic fumes. The injury may be intensified if the victim is inhaling within a poorly ventilated space. Electrical Burns-Electrical burns can have many causes including high voltage wires, damaged electrical cords, and electrical outlets. The internal injuries that may result from an electrical burn are not always evident in that the visible burns may simply be small entry and exit points of the electrical current.
Chemical Burns- Chemical burns are often associated with industrial accidents. The chemical compounds that can cause moderate to severe burns include strong acids or bases; these compounds are found in cleaning products, battery fluid, pool chemicals, and drain cleaners. The severity of chemical burns may be deceptive. Hydrofluoric acid, for instance, can eat to the bone before the extent of the burn injury becomes evident.
Burn Injury Severity
Radiation burns and other burns need to be evaluated for their severity. The severity of a burn injury is determined by the following factors:
Source of Burn Injury
Some sources of a burn injury are inherently more serious, other factors being equal. A minor burn caused by nuclear radiation will be more serious than a minor thermal burn. Chemical burns may be more serious than radiation burns or thermal burns if the chemicals have remained on the victim’s skin for a length of time. Bodily Region Burns to the face are more serious because they may affect the victim’s breathing or eyesight. Burns to the hands and feet are serious because they can limit the mobility of fingers and toes.
Degree of Burn Injury
Higher degree burns mean deeply exposed tissue and therefore a greater risk of infection to the burn injury.
Representing burn victims requires knowledge of the underlying science of the cause of the injury, and knowledge of the medical treatment, including:
Careful monitoring in the early stages of recovery to guard against infection
Heavy pain medication required
Scarring and disfigurement
Chronic pain even after recovery has stabilized
Possible plastic surgery in the future
Ferrara Law offices, P.C. represents victims of burn injuries. Call for a free consultation if you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury.