Type of Injury
A fire that starts with a small spark can quickly grow to cause serious injuries, even fatalities, and they can be a more common hazard than you may expect.
Causes of burn injuries
Burns injuries can be caused in many different ways and the cause of a burn is just one way a burn injury is classified:
Thermal burns are an extremely common type of burn injury and most people will experience thermal burns at some point in their lives. These types of burns are caused by coming in contact with a source of heat, either directly or indirectly. This can include an open flame, the sun, a hot stove, or a hot liquid.
Electrical burns are caused by coming into contact with an electrical current. They’re very commonly caused by electrical cords where the insulation has worn off, but they can also occur if a person is doing electrical repairs on a building’s electrical system and the power supply hadn’t been properly shut down first or if wiring is faulty.
Not all types of burn injuries are caused by heat or an open flame. Chemical burns occur when certain types of chemicals come in contact with skin or eyes and damage the tissues. Many chemical burns tend to occur in the workplace, but they can also be caused by substances commonly found in homes, including bleach, ammonia, battery acid, chlorine, and many types of cleaning products.
Types of burn injuries
Burn injuries are also classified on their severity:
First-degree burns are the least severe type of burn injury. These burns affect only the outer layer of skin, resulting in red skin and pain, but will heal fairly quickly without causing any long-term damage.
Second-degree burns affect the outer layer of skin and the layer of dermis beneath it. This type of burn results in blistering and are red, painful, and can have a shiny appearance. The long-term effects of a second-degree burn depend on the extent of the burn. If only part of the dermis is damaged, this is known as a superficial second-degree burn and might not result in permanent scarring. Partial-thickness burns go deeper and can cause scarring or discoloration of the skin.
Third-degree burns destroy the first two layers of skin, as well as other things in the affected area, such as nerve endings and hair follicles. Rather than having a red color, third-degree burns can be yellow, white, black, or brown in appearance. Third-degree burns also often have a leathery appearance. A skin graft will likely be needed to treat the burn.
Fourth-degree burns are the most severe type of burn and can be life-threatening. These burns not only destroy all layers of the skin, they also destroy the underlying muscles, tendons, and bones.
The area a burn injury covers is an important aspect of judging the severity of a burn. Burn sizes are measured by the percentage of total body surface area (TBSA). TBSA is only used in cases of moderate to severe burn injuries. Once an approximate TBSA is known, the burn can be classified as one of three types:
In adults, a burn with a TBSA of less than 10% is considered a minor burn. For children and the elderly, a minor burn has a TBSA of less than 5%. In cases of third-degree burns, the TBSA only needs to be less than 2% to qualify as a minor burn.
Moderate burns have a TBSA of 10%-20% in adults and 5%-10% in children and the elderly. If the burn is a third-degree burn, the TBSA can be 2%-5% to count as a moderate burn.
Major burns have a TBSA greater than 20% in adults and greater than 10% for children and the elderly. In third-degree burns, the TBSA is greater than 5%.
Effects of burn injuries
Burn injuries can potentially result in a wide range of problems, such as infections, scarring, skin discoloration, tissue damage, bone damage, loss of mobility, and disfigurement. If sweat glands were damaged by the burn, a person might easily overheat since they aren’t able to cool themselves through sweating. A person might also develop respiratory problems if smoke was inhaled around the time the burn occurred.
Burn injuries can be absolutely devastating, not just physically, but psychologically as well. One study by the Loyola University Medical Center found that 16% of burn patients experience PTSD as a result of their injury. It’s also extremely common for burn injury victims to have anxiety over their appearance and feel isolated from others.
Treatments for burn injuries
Treatment options for burn injuries depend on the type of burn it is and how severe it is. Some common burn injury treatments include surgically removing dead tissue, skin grafting, intravenous fluids, pain medications, and topical ointments. If an infection develops, antibiotics may be needed. Specialty wound dressings and ultrasound water-based mist therapy can also be used to treat burns.
In some cases, a burn injury victim might benefit from cosmetic reconstructive surgery, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. Seeing a counselor or psychologist may be able to help with the psychological effects of a burn.
Who is most at risk for burn injuries?
Burn injuries can easily happen to anyone and most people experience a burn injury at some point in their lives. Statistically speaking, though, some people are more susceptible to severe burn injuries than others.
According to the American Burn Association, children and the disabled are particularly vulnerable to burn injuries.
As of 2015, unintentional fire and burn injuries were the 5th leading cause of injury death in the United States for children under 5 and the 3rd leading cause of injury death for children between 5 and 9.
Older individuals can also be very susceptible to fatal burn injuries. Burn injuries are the 8th leading cause of death for people over 65.
Damages in a burn injury claim
If you’re considering making a claim for damages caused by a burn injury, some types of damages you can collect include:
- Medical expenses, including future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Contact a Los Angeles burn injury lawyer
The effects of a burn injury can be devastating, both physically and psychologically. When you’re dealing with a stressful situation like this, the last thing you need is someone trying to pressure you into accepting a smaller settlement than you deserve. When you work with The Wallace Firm, you’ll have a team of burn injury lawyers on your side to fight for you to get the compensation you need. We’ve successfully helped many burn injury victims just like you in the Los Angeles area. Contact us today for help with your claim.