Burn Injuries

Burn injuries are some of the most catastrophic injuries a person can experience. Burn injuries can cause substantial physical damage but can also have devastating mental and emotional effects.

You might suffer permanent disabilities that interfere with your ability to work. You might also suffer less tangible losses due to a diminished quality of life.

Here are some facts about the causes and effects of burn injuries and the compensation you can seek for them.

What is the Anatomy of Your Skin?

The skin has three layers. The hypodermis is the lowest layer and contains the fat that insulates your body. It also has the connective tissue that holds your skin to your muscles.

The dermis is the middle layer. It has passages for the blood vessels and nerves that connect to the upper layer. It also has hair follicles and oil glands.

The epidermis is the top layer. This layer has the cells that convert sunlight to vitamin D. It also forms a barrier to keep water in and contaminants, microorganisms, and radiation out.

What Types of Burn Injuries Can Occur? 

Burn injuries happen when a physical reaction destroys body tissue. You can suffer burn injuries anywhere on your body, but they most commonly happen on your skin.

Burn injuries can result from many physical reactions. Some types of burn injuries include:

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns happen when your tissue encounters excessive heat. A common type of thermal burn happens when you touch a hot object. Thermal burns can also result from steam or hot liquids.

Friction burns also fit into the category of thermal burns. Friction burns happen when the friction between your skin and another surface causes the skin to heat up. Friction burns happen when you slide across the pavement after a motorcycle accident.

Combustion Burns

Combustion burns happen when your tissue catches on fire. Combustion burns can happen in a vehicle fire after a car accident.

Radiation Burns

The most common type of radiation burn is sunburn. In a sunburn, ultraviolet radiation damages the skin cells.

But radiation burns can also happen in workplace accidents involving people who work around radioactive materials. Doctors, nurses, dentists, dental assistants, radiologists, and nuclear engineers can get exposed to radiation sources, leading to radiation burns.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns happen when caustic chemicals react with elements in the skin, destroying the tissue. 

Some chemicals that cause chemical burns include:

  • Acids
  • Bases
  • Oxidizers

Chemical burns often happen in workplace accidents. They can also happen when defective products malfunction. For example, an exploding battery could cause chemical burns.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns result from electrical current entering the body. The resistance of your body causes the electricity to instantly increase the temperature of your tissue. Current can also cause electrocution, disrupting your heartbeat, muscles, and brain.

Electrical burns can happen in workplace accidents. They can also result from defective products and hazardous premises.

How Do You Rate the Severity of Burn Injuries?

Doctors rate burn injuries according to the depth of tissue damage. This scale uses four degrees to rate burns:

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns only affect the epidermis. 

Symptoms of a first-degree burn include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Your skin may also peel as the burn heals. This peeling skin is the dead tissue destroyed by the burn.

You can treat first-degree burns with first aid. You will usually not need medical treatment unless the burn covers a large area of your body.

You will typically not have any long-term complications from a first-degree burn.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and dermis. 

Symptoms of a second-degree burn include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters

The blisters may burst or weep as time goes on. The dead skin will also peel.

Like first-degree burns, you can treat small second-degree burns with first aid. You should also keep the burn clean since microorganisms can enter through ruptured blisters. You may experience some minor scarring from second-degree burns.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns require emergency medical treatment. These burns destroy the dermis and epidermis. This leaves your body without any protection from the outside world.

Since third-degree burns destroy the dermis and the nerves running through it, third-degree burns usually do not cause much pain. 

Symptoms of third-degree burns include:

  • Pale, waxy, or gray flesh
  • Charred skin

Third-degree burns require extensive treatment. Doctors may use synthetic or natural skin grafts to cover and protect the burned area. Although skin grafts can prevent some of the worst complications, they can also cause severe scarring.

Fourth-Degree Burns

Fourth-degree burns happen when a burn goes deeper than your skin and affects the soft tissue underneath.

What Complications Can Happen from Burn Injuries?

Burns involve many complications. Some of the more common complications include:

Infection

Your skin is the body’s primary barrier against microorganisms. When a burn breaches your skin, bacteria and viruses can enter your body.

An infection happens when these germs multiply inside your body. Your body’s cells begin to die as a result of the germs competing for resources and releasing toxins.

Dehydration

Your skin keeps contaminants out but also keeps water in. Without your skin, you can quickly become dehydrated.

Scars and Disfigurement

Burn injuries often lead to scars. Scars happen when your body repairs an injury using cells that are not as soft and elastic as the original cells. Burns can result in keloid scars that can disfigure your appearance. Burns can also cause contracture scars that make your skin so tight that it restricts movement.

What Compensation Can You Seek for Burn Injuries?

If you suffer burn injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you can seek injury compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.

Burns usually involve substantial economic and non-economic damages. Treatment for burns is expensive and requires a long healing time. During that time, you might be unable to work. Burns also reduce your quality of life as you suffer from pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and permanent disabilities.

Burns are some of the most painful injuries you can experience. Severe burns can cause permanent nerve damage and significant scarring. After experiencing burn injuries, you might suffer from physical and mental trauma that prevents you from working and diminishes your quality of life.

To learn about the compensation you can seek for burn injuries, contact Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys in St. Petersburg, FL for a free consultation.