Being involved in an accident of any kind can be a stressful experience, regardless of who was at fault. Among the most devastating injuries a person can sustain are burns. Burn injuries can be the result of many different accidents, from house fires to car accidents and workplace incidents. According to the American Burn Association (ABA), approximately 500,000 Americans are treated for burn injuries every single year. With a 94% survival rate, it is no wonder burn injuries are some of the most painful and serious a person can experience.
Shamieh Law has represented countless burn survivors, helping them and their families seek retribution. From our experience working with clients throughout Dallas, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana, we have seen just how catastrophic these types of injuries can be. We are dedicated to empowering our clients and being a resource they can count on. This guide is designed to help you understand not only what steps should be taken immediately following an accident that results in a burn injury, but what the most common causes of burn injuries are and the different categories of burn injuries. If you have suffered a burn, please contact Shamieh Law today to learn more about your rights.
Burn Injury Statistics
According to the American Burn Association, burn injuries are treated everywhere from hospitals to community health centers and private medical offices. While many burns are likely to be minor, some are far more serious and even result in death. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting statistics about burn injuries:
- 60% of burn injuries in the U.S. were treated at burn centers
- Burn centers treat more than 200 injuries and skin disorders every year
- On average, there are 3,275 deaths from fire and smoke inhalation
- On average, there are 310 deaths from vehicle crash fires
- There is one civilian death every two hours and 41 minutes in the U.S.
- The majority of burn victims are male (68%, 32% female)
- 59% of burn victims are caucasian, 20% African-American, 14% Hispanic, and 7% other
- The leading cause of admission for burns is fire and flame (43%), 34% scald, 9% contact, 4% electrical, 3% chemical, and 7% other
- 73% of all accidents that result in burns occur in the home, with just 8% taking place at work and 5% on the streets or highways
Sadly, deaths from burn injuries are largely preventable. However, accidents happen and burn injuries must be treated appropriately in order for the patient to make a full recovery.
The Four Categories of Burn Injuries
As Dallas personal injury lawyers, we understand all too well how life-changing burn injuries can be. We have represented countless individuals who have suffered burns from scalding water, vehicle crashes, home fires, and gases and smoke. Fire is incredibly unpredictable, which is one of the main reasons why people often fall victim to its flames. If your home ever catches on fire, your first priority should be to get out of the house. It can take only a matter of seconds for the flames to cause devastating injuries to the human body, and the density and heat of the smoke can lead to even more serious complications.
Before we go any further, let’s look at the four categories of burn injuries:
- First-degree burns – The least serious of all burn injuries, first-degree burns are comparable to a sunburn. Victims may experience minor pain and redness on the top of the skin and should heal completely within a few days.
- Second-degree burns – With second-degree burns, the first and second layers of skin are affected. Depending on the circumstances, blisters may form and can be extremely painful to the touch. Second-degree burns can take up to three weeks to heal and may be at risk of bacterial infections and scarring.
- Third-degree burns – Third-degree burns are very serious, reaching the layer of fat underneath the skin. People with third-degree burns may have skin that appears leathery and charred black. In many cases, there is nerve damage that leads to numbness. One of the only treatment options is surgery to remove the affected skin.
- Fourth-degree burns – Fourth-degree burns are the most serious and often life-threatening. When someone has fourth-degree burns, their skin is reduced to ashes at every single layer. The muscle tissue and bones are also charred and nerve damage is present.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
As mentioned, the most common causes of burns are flames from fire and scaling. These injuries can come as a result of using alcohol while cooking or the absence of smoke detectors in the home. Typically, we see these types of burn injuries more frequently in the winter. Let’s take a closer look at the most common causes of burn injuries:
- Flame or fire – 43% of all burn patients are admitted for burns from fire or flame. These injuries can happen as the result of improperly building a fire, cooking complications, fireworks, or unattended cigarettes. It should also be noted that both flames and fire pose additional risks to patients, as the smoke can lead to breathing and respiratory problems.
- Scalding – An estimated 33% of all burn injuries are caused by scalding from hot liquid or steam that comes in contact with the skin. In most cases, this type of burn occurs during cooking, but it can also occur when the water is too hot in a bath or when heating liquid for other reasons. The most common cause of childhood burn injuries is scalds, as children may unknowingly turnover hot liquids in a pan or bowl or burn themselves on hot water from the faucet.
- Thermal burns – 8% of burn injuries happen from contact with hot objects such as irons or ovens. Treatment for thermal burns will depend on a host of factors, including the location and severity of the burn. While touching hot objects are the most common cause of thermal burns, they can also occur from flames and fire, hot liquid or steam, and other objects like cooking pants or heated appliances.
- Electrical burns – Just 4% of all burn injuries are caused by accidental contact with electricity or electrical wires. Because our bodies are not designed to resist electricity, it is quite common for people to sustain an injury following a strong electrical jolt to the body. In most cases, electrical burns occur when someone comes in contact with an extension cord where the insulation is no longer there. Other less common examples of electrical burns include when children place non-insulated cords in their mouth, leading to low-voltage electrical burns.
- Chemical burns – Chemical burns occur when the skin and/or eyes come in contact with an irritating substance, such as the following:
- Battery acid
- Harsh cleaners
These types of burns are extremely serious and require immediate medical attention. If you have been burned by a chemical, the first thing you should do is run the affected area under water for at least 10 minutes. In the event the chemical has gotten into your eyes, rinse your eyes for at least 20 minutes to ensure all traces of the chemical are washed out. If the following have occurred, please call 911 or go to the emergency room right away:
- The burn is larger than three inches
- The burn is on your face, hands, feet, groin, or buttocks
- The burn remains painful even after taking pain medication
- The burn is on a major joint, such as the knee or hip
How to Prevent Burn Injuries
The ABA states that someone is burned in the United States every 60 seconds. As mentioned earlier, the majority of burns happen in the home and are extremely preventable. To prevent a burn accident and any serious injuries that may follow, please take the following tips into consideration:
- Never leave the oven or stove unattended
- Make sure you clean your oven out on a regular basis
- Change the batteries in your smoke alarm every six months
- Double check that the thermostat on your water heater is set below 120 degrees
- Contact an electrician to check the wiring in your home at least every 10 years
- Check electrical plugs periodically for fraying or any dirt or other debris
- Keep all appliances unplugged when not in use
- When cooking or working with hot liquid, make sure children are kept at a safe distance
- Never use a tablecloth at home with small children, as it may result in the child accidentally pulling the tablecloth and spilling hot items on themselves
- Go over what steps should be taken in the event of a house fire with your children
- Educate your child about the dangers of fire, including lighters and matches. Be sure and keep these items out of your child’s reach
- Before giving your infant or young child a bath, test the temperature of the water
- Make sure all alternative heating devices (such as space heaters) are working properly
- Prior to using an outdoor grill or barbecue, thoroughly clean them and remove any grease buildup
- Always have your child wear sunscreen when he or she is in the sun
- Never leave children unattended near fireworks
- Prior to using the fireplace or chimney in the winter make sure it has been cleaned out
- Never overload electrical outlets
- If there is a power outage, use flashlights instead of candles
These are just some of the steps you can take year-round to prevent accidents and burn injuries. Your safety is our top priority and we are also dedicated to helping you understand your legal rights, should you find yourself the victim of a burn accident.
Why You Need a Burn Injury Lawyer
Unfortunately, many burn injuries happen as a result of another person’s negligence. We often see accidents that lead to burn injuries occur in the workplace, especially if the victim happens to work with or near electricity, chemicals, heat sources, or radiation. Other common causes of burn injuries are car accidents and home fires, both of which can be prevented by following some of the tips mentioned above. Children are often the victims of burn injuries due to lack of supervision or a dangerous item that they come in contact with.
Regardless of whether the burn accident victim is a child or adult, the resulting injuries can lead to mounting medical bills and years of rehabilitation. If your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation. Some of the economic damages you may be able to recover include things such as past and future medical bills, lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses you’ve been faced with as a result of your injury. You may also be able to recover non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering.
The burn injury lawyers at Shamieh Law have helped countless individuals seek compensation for their injuries throughout both Dallas, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana. We understand that these types of injuries are not only physically scarring, but emotionally and psychologically as well. Burns often require painful skin graft operations and numerous future surgeries. If you have sustained a burn injury because of someone else’s negligence, you should be able to recover damages for your treatment and recovery.
What to Do if You’ve Suffered a Burn Injury
Burn injuries can result in scarring and disfigurement, as well as death. It is imperative you seek treatment immediately following an accident that causes burn injuries – whether first-degree or fourth-degree. While many people recover in a matter of a few days, those who have sustained more severe burns must face a great deal of both physical and psychological pain. Even after the treatment phase has been completed and the wounds have healed, you may have lasting effects that interfere with movement, mobility, and your overall quality of life. Beyond the physical and emotional pain that comes with burns, many patients and their loved one’s face mounting medical bills from ongoing treatment and rehabilitation. If you’ve been involved in a burn accident, contact Shamieh Law today and let us help you.