Have you or a loved one suffered a burn injury, such as a scald burn, fire burn, steam burn, laser burn, or work related burn?
As a lawyer who has represented severely burned clients, I have seen first hand how devastating a burn can be (both scald and fire burns). I represented a 2-year old gorgeous little girl who got the skin burned off her legs from 190 degree scalding hot water from at an apartment complex. No one who has not experienced a severe burn can fully comprehend the severity of the pain involved. Imagine – hydrotherapy and debridement after massive burns and skin grafts – but you probably don’t want to. Burns can change lives in a second. There is no fixing burned off skin. There are no words to describe the pain of a 2nd, 3rd, 4th degree burn. It is surreal. Only screams can express it.
For burn victims and their families, the road to recovery is likely to be both long and difficult.
There are four categories of burn injuries:
1. First degree burns
2. Superficial second degree burns
3. Deep second degree burns
4. Third degree burns
5. Fourth degree burns (burning to the bone)
First-degree burns usually affect the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis. A first-degree burn tends to be moist and red in color. A burn of this nature is generally resolved within a week. A classic example of a first-degree burn would be mild sunburn.
A superficial second-degree burn penetrates the entire epidermal layer of skin and extends down to the next skin layer, known as the dermis. Pressure on a second-degree burn tends to produce red blanches. The burn may appear moist and pinkish in color. A superficial second-degree burn also should heal spontaneously, often within two weeks.
A full thickness second-degree burn differs from the superficial second degree burns, because the tissue destruction runs deeper into the dermis. This type of burn is common in an explosion. A burn of this nature will be dry and whitish in color. It will not produce red blanches with application of pressure. This type of burn may take three to four weeks to heal. There is a risk that a deep second-degree burn will leave thick or hypertrophic scars.
Third degree burns are the most severe classification. This occurs when the burn destroyed both the epidermal and dermal layers of skin and extended down to the subcutaneous tissue. These burns may be physically depressed, charred, and often leather-like in appearance.
Ironically, a third degree burn may not be as physically painful as less severe types, because of the amount of nerve endings that were destroyed. These burns are very serious and often require skin grafting or other reconstructive procedures.
Burns are also classified into two categories: partial thickness and full thickness. Partial thickness burns include first and second degree burns, while full thickness burns are usually third degree burns.
These descriptions only describe the general burn characteristics. However, you should not attempt to diagnose the severity of a burn on your own. Instead, get prompt medical attention, because this can be important in minimizing pain and promoting faster recovery. In severe burn cases, immediate medical treatment may save lives.
Many burn survivors have very significant changes in body image and self concept, leading to understandable depression. There is a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among burn injury survivors that may justify professional mental health care.
Have you or a loved one suffered an Inhalation Injury?
When a person in involved in a fire, it is very common for the victim to also have inhalation injuries. When inhalation injuries are combined with external burns the chance of death can increase significantly.
The 3 most common types of inhalation injuries are:
- Damage from Heat Inhalation: True lung burn happens when you directly breathe in a hot air/flame source, or have high pressure force the heat into your lungs. Often times, thermal injury is confined to the upper airways, because your throat (medically referred to as your trachea) shields your lungs from the heat.
- Damage from Systemic Toxins: Systemic Toxins affect our ability to absorb oxygen. If someone is found unconscious or acting confused in the surroundings of an enclosed fire, systemic toxins could be a possible cause. Toxin poisoning can cause permanent damage to organs including the brain. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can appear symptomless up until the point where the victim falls into a coma.
- Damage from Smoke Inhalation: Smoke intoxication is frequently hidden by more visible injuries such as burns as a result of fire. In a disaster situation can lead to not receiving the medical attention needed, due to the rescue teams taking care of the more apparent patients. Patients that appear apparently unharmed can collapse due to major smoke inhalation, 60% to 80% of fatalities resulting from burn injuries can be attributed to smoke inhalation.<
- Truck accidents and tanker explosions
- Motor vehicle accidents and auto fires
- Electrical cord fires
- Defective products that cause burns or fires
- Locked fire exits that cause injuries
- Apartment building fires
- Scalding water and pipes; hot water heater defects
- Electrical accidents
- Recreational fires (hotel, restaurant, retail outlet, nightclub)
Have you or a loved one sustained a burn injury at work? When an employee suffers a burn injury at work, they may be able to file a Texas workers compensation claim. Please see our Worker’s Compensation section of our website for more information on this topic.
Fire Injury Lawsuits: Types of Claims
In addition to workplace injury claims, our law firm can handle lawsuits involving:
Though first-degree burns can heal quickly, second, third and fourth degree burns can cause severe injury and disfigurement.
Gregg S. Harrison, Attorney at Law, PLLC
Greater Houston/Northwest Houston Burn Injury Lawyer
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