A burn is an injury to the skin and tissues of the body caused by heat, electricity, chemicals or radiation. Roughly 2.4 million people in the United States suffer burn injuries each year, resulting in 650,000 serious injuries and 8,000 – 12,000 deaths annually. Burn injuries are second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
There are three main types of burn injuries:
- Chemical Burns: Chemical burns result from the change of chemical energy to thermal energy. Chemical burns are caused by tissue exposure to a strong acid or alkali, such as phosphorus or mustard gas. The severity of a chemical burn depends on how long the chemical is in contact with the skin. As such, immediately flushing the skin with large amounts of water is essential to minimizing the burn.
- Thermal Burns: The most common type of burn injury, a thermal burn, occurs as a result of burn from heat or fire. Injuries from fire or hot objects include flame burns, hot liquid burns, and flash burn injuries (explosions).
- Electrical Burns: Electrical burn injuries occur when an electrical current from an external source runs through the body. Electrical burns can heat up to 5,000 degrees Celsius. The electrical current causes the body to incur a burn injury in several areas, including the current's points of entry and exit on the skin, as well as the muscles and tissue through which the current passes. Damage to the bones, blood vessels and nerves can also occur, and a fatal heart attack may also result if the electrical current passes through the center of the body.
Burn injuries are classified as first degree, second degree or third degree burns. First degree burn injuries affect the outer layer of skin, or epidermis. These are superficial burns that usually cause redness, swelling and pain. Sunburn is an example of a first degree burn. While painful, it will usually heal on its own and not cause permanent damage.
Second degree burns are serious injuries that cause damage to several layers of the skin, going beyond the epidermis to the layer below, which is called the dermis. Although second-degree burns usually don't require surgery, skin grafting is sometimes an option for people with extensive injuries. Scarring may result from second degree burns.
Third degree burns are the most serious type of burn injuries. All layers of skin are affected, as well as underlying tissue, producing a brown or black leathery appearance. They require surgical skin grafting or transplantation.
Burns are one of the most expensive catastrophic injuries to treat. For example, a burn of 30% of total body area can cost as much as $400,000 in initial hospitalization costs and for physicians fees. For extensive burns, there are additional significant costs which will include costs for repeat admission for reconstruction and for rehabilitation.
Duvel Law, APC., understands that your immediate goals after going through such a trauma are to get your medical bills paid and covered, make sure you do not suffer financially through any lost wages, and make sure your insurance company will pay for future treatment relating to your injury. Our experienced attorneys will discuss your situation and go over the options available to you.