A person can suffer burn injuries from a variety of accidents. People in car accidents, trapped in burning buildings, exposed to chemicals in a laboratory, and in many other circumstances can sustain burns. Generally speaking, such an accident that results in a burn may be reason to file a personal injury claim. Burn injuries can also be severe enough to result in death from complications after the original incident, in which case the victim’s surviving family may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Types of Burns
When most people think of burns, fire is the first thing to come to mind. Fire is indeed a common way to acquire burns, but it is far from the only way. People can suffer burns to body tissues by heat, chemicals, radiation, electricity, or sunlight. In fact, steam or scalding liquids can cause more severe burns due to the fact that they contain a higher amount of energy that is released as heat. Other high-temperature gasses can also cause heat burns.
Various chemicals can cause burns of different severity upon contact with flesh. Failure to use or improper use of laboratory safety equipment can result in such burns, as can faulty equipment.
Radiation burns are uncommon and mostly occur in people working around radioactive equipment or devices—like in certain power plants. If an employer does not properly maintain equipment in these places nor follow safety procedures, people may be exposed to enough radiation to suffer radiation burns. Burns from sunlight are also a type of radiation burn a person acquires from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
People suffer electrical burns when they are exposed to a powerful electrical current. Some of the energy of the electricity is transferred into the body as heat, causing burns. Electricians are obviously at high risk for electrical burns, but proper safety procedures and tools normally keep them safe.
Severity of Burn Injuries
The medical community classifies burn injuries on one of three levels of severity. First degree burns only affect the outermost layer of skin and are generally not too serious. Second degree burns damage the top two layers of skin. These burns are incredibly painful and can be serious if they cover a large area of the body.
Third-degree burns are the worst type of burn injury. They can destroy all layers of skin and damage the tissues beneath them. These burns are not as painful as second-degree burns because they kill nerves, but the greater amount of damage they do makes them far more serious. Third-degree burns can have many life-threatening complications.
The degree of the burn is not always the most important factor in determining a burn’s severity, however. The location of a burn can make a grave difference in its effect on a person’s health. Burns to the face, head, or neck are especially serious. If a person inhales a burning chemical or high-temperature gas, the resulting burns to the throat and lungs can leave him or her unable to breathe.
Compensation for Burn Injuries
In turns of compensation and damages, cases of burn injury follow the same general rules as other cases of personal injury or wrongful death. Personal injury cases usually level compensative damages against the defendant, meaning this person should pay to compensate the plaintiff (the injured party) for medical expenses, lost income, anguish, and a few other things. The courts may award the surviving family in a wrongful death case damages to compensate them for economic and non-economic losses.
If you or a loved one has suffered the pain of a burn injury, contact the office of SteinLaw today.