Each year, 500,000 people seek medical treatment in emergency rooms or other medical facilities for severe burn injuries. Those who survive face a long and painful road to recovery. What are the principal causes of severe burn injuries? This is a question carefully studied by medical professionals, public health advocates, and fire prevention officials to lower the rate of incidence and also to develop ever-improving standards of care.
If you have suffered a serious burn injury, you may be due compensation. Let the personal injury lawyers at De Castroverde Law evaluate your case and suggest the best approach to recovering the costs of your medical care and, potentially, an amount for pain and suffering. Here’s what we know about the causes of serious burn injuries and how they are evaluated and treated.
What Is a Serious Burn Injury?
About a tenth of burn cases results in hospitalizations, many of which require time in specialized burn centers, according to data collected by the American Burn Association. You have likely experienced at least a minor burn injury at some point in your life. How do you know when a burn is serious and requires medical attention?
The first signals of a serious burn will come from how the burn area looks. A serious burn is one that causes damage to the underlying tissue. Remember that skin is considered an organ. It is the largest organ in the body. According to the University of California at San Diego, adults have, on average, 18 square feet of skin from head to toe. Skin exists in three layers, which are:
- The outer layer, or epidermis.
- The middle layer, or dermis.
- The third layer, or the subcutaneous tissues.
The deeper the burn, the more serious the injury. According to the Mayo Clinic, the deepest burns may give the skin a dry, leathery feeling and result in charred patches of white, brown, or black. You should seek immediate medical help for burns that are larger than 8 inches in diameter and cover your hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or go all the way around an arm or leg, accompanied by smoke inhalation, or result in swelling.
What Are the Types of Burns and Their Symptoms?
Medical providers characterize the seriousness of burns by degree using a standard scale. You may not know how severe your burn is until a few days after the incident. Severe burns can cause multiple complications that doctors must monitor. They can cause infections that can spread to the bloodstream, as well as dangerous fluid loss or low body temperature, breathing difficulties, scars, or bone and joint problems, according to the team at UCSD.
If you have suffered a burn injury of any severity, it makes sense to have it evaluated by a healthcare professional as soon as possible after the incident. Getting a clear medical evaluation may be helpful in seeking compensation later for your injuries. Here are the degrees of burns and what doctors look for in their evaluations:
Although this is the least severe type of burn, it’s still important to treat, especially if it’s over a large area. First-degree burns cause damage to the outer layers of skin, the epidermis, and will likely result in redness and pain. Health care professionals may examine these burns to check the depth of the burn and whether it shows signs of infection.
Second-degree burns reach the second layer of skin, also known as the dermis. A burn of this severity may, according to UCSD experts, “cause swelling and red, white, or splotchy skin.” Second-degree burns can leave scars and be very painful.
Third-degree burns go all the way to the subcutaneous or “fat” tissue. This is the most serious burn and may cause black, brown, or white areas and leathery skin. Third-degree burns can also destroy nerves. Often, these burns require a lengthy period of treatment, including advanced procedures such as skin grafts.
What Are the Best Treatments for Burns?
If you are applying first-aid for more serious burns, your first goal is to make sure the person and anyone else in the area are safely removed from the proximate cause so no further damage can occur. Remove jewelry, belts, or anything else constricting. Keep the wound lightly covered with gauze, elevate the burn area if possible and keep watch for shock.
Minor first-degree burns can usually be treated at home. The Mayo Clinic advises running the burned area under cool water. If the burn is to the face, the guidance is to use a cool washcloth. Guidance might include applying lotion or first aid ointment and putting a bandage on to cover the injured area. For pain, the guidance might be to use over-the-counter pain relievers. Depending on the extent of the burn, you can expect healing to take several weeks. Doctors also advise patients to resist the temptation to pop blisters since they protect against infection.
5 Causes of Serious Burn Injuries
Three-quarters of all serious burn injuries happen in the home. Studies have documented five main causes:
- Burns from a fire or contact with an open flame.
- Scalding injury, such as from boiling water.
- Touching a hot object, such as iron.
- Electrical burns, such as from touching a live wire or being in water carrying an electrical charge.
- Chemical burns, such as from corrosive material such as certain acids.
One final potential cause we may not always think about because it is very common is burnt from the sun. Too much time under the sun can cause severe enough damage to require medical treatment. Sunburns can also cause an increased risk of skin cancer.
Get Legal Representation for Serious Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are frequently the result of unfortunate accidents. Sometimes, though, they involve reckless or negligent decision-making. In that case, you may have grounds to make a personal injury claim or file a personal injury lawsuit to seek reimbursement for your injuries and your pain and suffering.
The attorneys at De Castroverde Law can help. We have extensive experience in all forms of personal injury cases and will work with you to evaluate the facts, evidence, and law to make a recommendation about the best way to obtain compensation. Contact us today for an initial consultation.