Burn injuries are expensive and traumatic to treat. Even a first-degree burn, the lowest level of injury, can become infected. Burns can be extremely painful and can lead to permanent, severe scarring.
Burn Awareness Week, Feb. 2-13, is sponsored by the American Burn Association to share burn awareness information and prevention. The National Fire Protection Association notes that every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. gets a burn that requires treatment.
The University of Rochester Medical Center notes most burn accidents happen at home. More than 300 children under 19 are treated for burns daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Also, two children die each day because of burns. Some causes of burns at home include defective products, faulty electrical wiring or burns from household chemicals. Three-quarters of burn injuries in children can be avoided.
Heat, chemicals, electricity or radiation cause burns. Burn injuries are classified as first-, second-, third- and fourth degree, depending on how deeply they damage the skin. The severity of the burn is not based on its cause.
For examples, scalding, a burn caused by a hot liquid or steam can cause all level of burns, depending on the length of time and how hot the liquid is that contacts the skin.
Water heaters that are set too hot can create scalding injuries. The Saint Barnabas Medical Center recommends setting water heaters at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chemical and electrical burns can do internal damage, even if the external damage appears minor. Electrical burns can be from electrical sources or lightning. Chemical burns are from contact with household or industrial chemicals that can be in liquid, solid or gas. Dry ice can even cause burns!
In addition to the burn itself, complications are often likely for burns, particularly third-degree burns and higher. Blood loss and shock, in addition to infections such as tetanus, are possible. Despite their association with heat, burns can also cause hypothermia because loss of body heat from the injury.
When Burn Injuries Happen
Burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring, shock, and even death in severe cases. Treatment for burns depends on the cause of the burn, how deep it is, and how much of the body it covers. Antibiotic creams can prevent or treat infections. For more serious burns, treatment can require skin grafting, I.V. fluids, antibiotics and pain management.
In addition to treatment of the physical impact of burns, it is important to consider emotional needs. Resource such as Burn Survivor Assistance offer support for burn victims.
First- and second-degree burns rarely scar if properly and quickly treated. Extensive damage from severe second-degree and third-degree burns can lead to problems in deep skin tissues, bones and organs. People with these burns may require surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation or lifelong assisted care.
Burn Injuries That Are the Fault of Others
Burns injuries can have several causes and may be the fault of others, including:
- Scalding from contact with boiling water, oil or grease. Food service workers, road crews and construction workers can be injured in this way.
- A burn associated with an open flame or an explosion that sparks a fire can happen with a car accident.
- An explosion of a gas or other chemical often produces a severe burn.
- Electric burns are often caused by faulty wiring.
Defective products can result in burn injuries because an error in the process of making the project, such as wiring that is not connected properly. Also, can be designed to dangerous, such as a part that gets too hot next to a chord, causing a fire. Additionally, products that have risks must warn consumers of dangers.
- Defective consumer products that may lead to burn injuries include:
- Batteries and battery-powered products
- Kitchen appliances
- Electric blankets
- Cleaning chemicals
- Vaping devices and e-cigarettes
- Flammable clothing, camping equipment and household items
The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) requires precautionary labeling on hazardous household product containers. The labels must identify the potential hazards and how users can protect their families.
Personal Injury Suits from Burn Injuries
People who have been burned by the fault of another are entitled to compensation for their expenses. Burns caused by workplace injuries, faulty consumer products, arson or any accident caused by negligence can result in a personal injury case. Major burns often have expensive medical bills and post-treatment.
Because of the possibility of disfigurement in severe cases, compensation can be for emotional as well as physical pain. Medical expenses, loss of income/wages, potential future loss of earnings, and compensation for future pain, disability and emotional trauma are damages burn victims can receive.
Here are examples of personal injury burn suits that resulted in judgements:
- A hospital bed caught fire due to a product design defect.
- A highly flammable skirt caused third-degree burns and permanent scarring.
- A hotel with its hot water heater set too high caused second-degree burns in the bathtub.
- A woman suffered third-degree burns from scalding hot coffee at McDonald’s restaurant.
- An overfilled propane tank for a barbeque grill ignited.
If you or someone you know has suffered a burn injury, be sure to meet with our burn injury attorney who can review your injury and surrounding circumstances and advise you.