Burns come in several different types, and severe burns can even cause permanent disfigurement or disability. The most common burns are from house fires, car fires, bonfires, or even your kitchen stove. Some burns leave a scar, while others might leave a slight discoloration on the skin.
Depending on the severity of the burn, you could require additional medical care, or even long-term therapy years into the future. If you suffer from burns because of a product malfunction or the fault of another person, contact Emroch & Kilduff’s personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.
Types of Burns
Care for a burn depends on the type of burn you have. In most cases, doctors can tell what type of burn you have simply by inspecting the burn site. However, if there is any question in the doctor’s mind, be sure to tell the doctor exactly what caused the burn to ensure you receive proper treatment. Burn causes are numerous: you could suffer a burn from a fire, or chemicals in your home or at work. The most common types of burns include:
These burns are from heat sources that increase the temperature of your skin, killing skin tissues (or may even cause your skin char). They include:
- Scalding liquids;
- Steam; and
- Hot metals.
Friction, such as a rope running through your hands, causes heat. The red mark left on your hand when a rope slides through your hands too quickly is a friction burn. Another example of a friction burn is when you fall on a treadmill—the friction from the moving tread creates enough heat to burn your skin. Road Rash, a common injury among motorcyclists, also falls under the category of friction burns.
High amounts of electricity will burn you, usually where the hot wire (or other source of contact) touches the skin. You can get electrical burns from alternating current (AC) as found in a house electrical socket, or direct current (DC), as found in vehicles.
If you work with acid, detergents, alkalis, and solvents, you may have experienced a chemical burn. People who clean pools and work in factories with chemicals are more susceptible to chemical burns. However, even ordinary household chemicals can cause severe burns.
A radiation burn is caused by long exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, or from therapeutic treatments for cancer. While radiation burns are not as common as others mentioned above, they are of particular concern to those with fair skin, or patients receiving radioactive medical treatment.
Severity of Burns
Burns are almost always painful, and the type of pain management you receive depends on the severity of the burn.
- A first-degree burn is relatively mild. While painful, a first-degree burn just reddens the outer layer of your skin. However, if a first-degree burn becomes infected, it could take additional weeks or months of medical treatment.
- A second-degree burn, often referred to as a partial thickness burn, is more painful because it affects the outer layer of your skin—the epidermis—and the lower layer of skin, which is called the dermis. Second-degree burns often turn red, swell, and blister.
- A third-degree burn, often referred to as a full thickness burn, affects the tissue under the dermis. When you have a third-degree burn, you might have a white mark, or your skin might char. The burned area is sometimes numb. Third-degree burns sometimes take years of treatment, and can cause permanent disfigurement.
If a burn gets infected, or if you have second- and third-degree burns that take multiple months or years of treatments, it could likely affect your ability to work. It could also cause psychological issues, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. You should always seek therapy as soon as possible if you or a loved one notices signs of psychological issues; insurance companies usually cover them as part of your claim for medical expenses, and mental distress is a common element of personal injury damage awards.
Causes of Burns
While you might burn yourself on the stove, repairing your car, or even with steam while you are cooking, a variety of different locations and/or responsible parties could cause your burns. In these cases, retain a burn injury lawyer to help you with your claim.
Burn causes include:
- House and apartment fires;
- Fires in car accidents;
- Not having the proper safety equipment when working with chemicals;
- Not having the proper safety equipment when working with electricity;
- Defective products;
- Scalding water from cooking or from pipes carrying hot water;
- Nuclear power plant leaks;
- Fires in recreational places, such as hotels, campers, bars, and retail establishments;
- Electrical cord fires; and
- Radiation or chemotherapy for cancer treatments.
You can’t prevent some burns, but you can lower your risk of being burned by ensuring that you have a fire extinguisher nearby, even in your own home, making sure you have the proper protective gear when working with chemicals and electricity, staying away from bonfires if you have been drinking, wearing gloves when working with ropes, and protecting your hands and body when working with or receiving chemotherapy.
If you work around electricity, make sure the power is off. If you are working on a car, disconnecting the battery stops electrical burns, and lowers the chance of a spark setting off fuel if you are working on fuel lines.
If the burn is due to another person’s or company’s negligence, you might recover damages following a personal injury claim, including economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages cover items with a price attached, such as past and future medical expenses, medical aids, past and future lost wages, and funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages cover items without a firm price, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, inconvenience, and loss of ordinary use. Economic damages and non-economic damages are meant to make you whole again.
While the money doesn’t erase the burn or remove the pain and suffering, it does reduce financial stress, and helps enable you to return to a normal life.
Punitive damages are not ordered to make you whole. A court orders the defendant to pay you punitive damages as a punishment for his or her grossly negligent behavior, and may be awarded depending on the facts of your case.
Contact Emroch & Kilduff’s Virginia Burn Injury Attorneys Now
If you suffer from burns due to the fault of another person or company, contact Emroch & Kilduff or call us at (804) 358-1568 for a free consultation. Our team of experienced burn injury attorneys can help you understand your options.