Burn Injury - Common Causes, Treatments, and Victim's Rights

A burn injury is gained when coming in contact with heat. It can be one layer of the skin or damages all layers of skin including muscles, bone, or other tissue. If a burn injury is caused by another party’s negligence, victims have the rights to claim compensation from the responsible party.

In the United States, according to the American Burn Association (ABA), an estimated 450,000 individuals undergo medical treatment for burn injuries on an annual basis. 

In addition, severe burn cases that require long recovery and treatments are reported to be around 40,000 yearly. The survival rate of burn injury in the U.S. is at 94%, however, burn injuries usually leave permanent damages.

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Here are the most common causes of Burn Injuries:

  • Contact with fire or flame. Burns caused by fire or flame takes 40% of burn injuries in the U.S. This happens when victims are caught in an incident like fire in a building, while cooking or clumsiness when in range with fire.
  • Scalding Injuries. Burn patients do not only get these injuries from the fire itself, burns can also be gained from steam, hot bath water spilled water, etc. A scalding injury is considered first or second-degree burns. Though, prolonged contact with steam or hot liquid may lead to third-degree burns.
  • Thermal Burns. In this case, compared to steams or hot liquid burns, thermal injuries are gained through contact with hot objects like iron or ovens.
  • Electrical Burns. Contact with electricity can cause burns and worse death. An electrical burn is caused by electricity passing through the body. Yearly, approximately 1,000 deaths are reported in the U.S. due to electrical injuries.
  • Chemical Burns. When you get exposure to a corrosive substance such as acid, you may gain extensive tissue damage. IF you are dealing with chemicals, follow safety instructions and precautions.

The above are the most common causes of burn injuries. The remaining causes are a combination of sunburn, fireworks, inhalation, etc. In addition, the ABA study report also shows that men are more likely to suffer burn injury than women. Moreover, burn injuries commonly happen at home than any other place.

Diagnosis and Treatments

Diagnoses for a burn injury is usually formed based on burn depth. The severity also influenced the extent of damage to the skin or body.

Burn injuries are based on the “rule of nines”, this means that the part of a body has a percentage to determine the degree of burn. Each arm is 9% of the body surface area, the leg is 18% same as the back and front of the torso area, while the head and neck are at 9%, and the genital region is only 1% of the surface area. By classifying the burn areas, a clear diagnosis can be made by a physician.

Upon treatment, medical experts must assess any second-degree burns that cover more than 10% to 15% of the body surface. In like manner, suspected third-degree burns should also seek medical advice. It is also utterly important to seek immediate medical attention if the eyes, ears, face or feet are involved.

  • First-degree burns or minor burns may be treated with cool moist compresses immediately. With this first aid, it may reduce the swelling and pain but do not put pressure on the burned area. For minor burns, a light dressing may aid the discomfort and fast healing. A water-based skin moisturizer may also be applied if there are no visible blisters.
  • Second-degree burns, unlike minor burns, second-degree burns should be placed in cool water. It should be gently washed and rinsed with a saline solution if the skin is broken. If blisters develop, it is highly recommended to seek a physician’s advice so medical care can be provided properly.
  • Third-degree burns or severe burns need immediate medical attention. If you are a witness of this incident, you must immediately call for emergency medical service to prevent further damage to the victim. The goal is to prevent infection, clean and cover the wounds as soon as possible. Not to mention, cold water shall not be applied and do not attempt to remove clothing or stuck object on the burn. It is also important that after the bur, it is kept warm.
  • Electrical burns must always seek medical professional advice. Even though there may not be severe physical injury, there may be damage to deeper tissues. Victims of electrical burns are also at risk of cardiac arrhythmias within 72 hours that they have been burned electrically.

Compensation for Damages

If you or someone you know is a victim of burn injuries due to the negligence of a person or entity, you may have a claim for compensation. Thus, to bring a lawsuit or civil claims, you have to prove that the person or entity was negligent in causing your burns.

First, you must show that the person or entity owed a duty of care or have breached this duty of care.

Some examples are:

  • Product liability: the liable party is the company who manufactured or produced the product that caused you to burn injuries.
  • Workrelated Injuries: an employer can be liable for any bur injuries if they allow faulty equipment to be used in the workplace. This also includes lack of safety precautions and hazard signage. In this case, you may also claim for workers compensation benefit.

The damages that can be recovered from burn injury claim are the medical bills for your burn injuries. The medical bills may also include future treatments or therapy if it is a severe burn injury. You may also recover loss of income if you are not able to come to work due to the pain and needed treatments. Pain, suffering and emotional distress may also be claimed for compensation. As a victim, you may also attempt for settlement of your case before going to trial.

Seek Legal Help

Burn injury most of the time is not just a simple injury. Recovering from the physical damages and emotional suffering is difficult and complicated, especially with severe and permanent health consequences. If you or someone you know is a victim of burn injury due to someone else’s negligence, seek legal help from lawyers who specialized in personal injury. They will assist you with your case and help you with your compensation claim.


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