A severe burn is one of the most painful injuries you can suffer. In traumatic burn cases, permanent scarring and the loss of facial features, fingers and toes can occur. A scar from a severe burn can take up to two years to heal before cosmetic surgery can begin.
Our burn injury lawyers at The Epstein Law Firm are here to help you. If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury and believe it was due to the negligence of another, please call The Epstein Law Firm now at 773-522-7000 or contact us online.
Types of Burns
Burn injuries are painful and they are classified by depth.
There are three (3) categories of burn injuries:
- First Degree Burn – A first degree burn usually affects the outer layer of the skin. This outer layer is called the epidermis. A first degree burn can cause pain, redness and swelling and usually resolves within a week. An example of a first degree burn is a mild sunburn.
- Second Degree Burn – A second degree burn is when the first layer of skin has been burned through to the second layer of skin (dermis). Blisters develop and the skin takes on a deep red appearance. Second-degree burns produce severe pain and swelling.
- Third Degree Burn – A third degree burn destroys both the first (epidermis) and second (dermis) layer of skin and extends down to the third layer (subcutaneous). Skin with a third-degree burn may appear white or black and leathery on the surface. The nerve endings in the skin may be destroyed, and therefore may not be painful. However, the area around the burn may be extremely painful. A third degree burn is the most severe type of burn and the pain may cause breathing problems and increased pulse rate.
Fire is linked with 3 different types of inhalation injuries. There are more than one hundred known toxic substances present in fire smoke. When these toxins are inhaled, and combined with external burns, the chance of death increases considerably.
The three types of inhalation injuries are:
- Heat Inhalation – When there is a high pressure force of heat pushed into your lungs, or if you directly breathe in a hot air/flame source, you can suffer damage to your lungs, known as “lung burn.” When hot air enters the nose, damage to the mucous membranes can occur.
- Systemic Toxins – Systemic toxins affect the body’s intake of oxygen. Carbon monoxide is an example of a common systemic toxin. In most cases, when someone breathes in smoke they may be found unconscious or disoriented. Toxic poisoning can cause brain damage and can even result in death.
- Smoke Inhalation – The number one cause of death related to fires is smoke inhalation. Studies estimate 75% of fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation injuries rather than burns.
Signs of inhalation injury usually appear within 2-48 hours after the burn has occurred. Signs someone may have suffered smoke inhalation may include:
- Fire or smoke present in a closed area
- Difficulty breathing
- Soot around the mouth or nose
- Nasal hairs, eyebrows, eyelashes have been singed
- Burns around the face or neck
One of every 13 fire deaths in the U.S. was started by a child. Children playing with matches and lighters account for more than one-third of preschool child deaths by fire.
Causes of Burns
- Chemical Burn – A chemical burn occurs when the skin is in contact with strong acids or alkaloids. The chemical will continue to burn its way through the skin and deeper layers until it is washed away. It is important to wash the chemical off the skin as soon as possible and remove clothing and jewelry that may have the chemical on it. Examples of household chemicals that can cause burns include bleach, paint thinner, and plumbing products such as Drano or Liquid Plumber. Chemical burns can also occur in the workplace.
- Electrical Burn – An electrical burn can occur when a current jumps from an electrical outlet, cord or appliance and passes through your body. The electricity can burn the skin and may also cause internal damage. There are a number of ways in which someone can get an electrical burn. The leading causes are sticking a knife into a plugged-in toaster, dropping a plugged-in appliance into water, sucking or chewing on an electrical cord, and sticking something into an electrical outlet.
- Scald Burn – Scald Burns are injuries caused by hot liquids or steam. Hot liquids, not fire, are the most common cause of burns to young children. Hot water can quickly cause serious, painful scald burns.
- Thermal Burn – Thermal burns are caused by contact with flames, steam, hot liquids, or hot objects. An example would be a burn on a curling iron. Although many thermal burns occur at home, they are also common with roofers and construction workers, when they come into contact with tar and asphalt.
Injuries After a Burn
In addition to the scarring itself, a burn survivor may suffer from any or all of the following:
- Physical and emotional trauma
- An injury that leaves one in pain
- Organ damage
- Body chemistry damage
- Sensitivity to temperature change
There are many factors to consider when someone suffers a burn injury, such as the source of the burn, its location, degree of burn, the victim’s medical history, and the age of the victim. Some burn injuries can threaten the respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems, as well. Burn injury victims sometimes experience emotional and psychological trauma as well. Another major concern after serious burn injuries is shock.
Types of Scars
- Keloid Scar – A keloid scar is when there is an overgrowth of scar tissue. These scars are typically red or pink and become a dark tan over time. Keloid scars are thick, nodular, ridged and itchy as they form and grow. Large keloids can limit your mobility. In addition, clothing rubbing or other types of friction may irritate them.
- Hypertrophic Scar – Hypertrophic scars are red, thick and raised, however they are different from Keloid scars because they do not develop beyond the site of injury or incision. Also, hypertrophic scars will improve over time.
- Contractures – A contracture scar is a permanent tightening of skin and may affect the muscles and tendons that limit movement and could damage the nerves. Contractures develop when normal elastic connective tissue is replaced with tough fibrous tissue. This makes the tissue resistant to stretching and prevents normal movement of the affected area.
If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury and believe it was due to the negligence of another, please call The Epstein Law Firm now at 773-522-7000 or contact us online.
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