Experienced Burn Injury Lawyers
Burn injuries are among the most devastating type of injury, often resulting in lifelong pain as well as scars and disfigurement. These scars and disfigurement can cause significant emotional distress and embarrassment in addition to the extreme levels of pain. In some cases, a wrongful death can result from serious burn injuries. Those who have suffered a traumatic burn injury need long-term help, and the burn injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya can provide that help. Our highly experienced burn injury lawyers can put burn victims in touch with an entire network of expert physicians and caregivers, including plastic surgeons, psychologists, psychiatrists and medical professionals. We want to help you get started on the path to recovery.
Statistics on Burn Injuries
According to the Burn Injury Guide, approximately 450,000 patients receive emergency treatment and hospital care for burn injuries each year. Further burn injury statistics include:
- Of the 450,000 burn injuries annually, about 3,400 burn injury deaths will result;
- Burns and fires are the third-leading cause of death in homes;
- Of the burn deaths which occur each year, about 2,550 are the result of a home fire;
- Males account for about 64 percent of the total burn injury costs annually, while females account for the remaining 36 percent.
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How Burn Accidents Occur:
Burns Resulting from Car Accidents
About 300 burn injury deaths per year are the result of an automobile accident, which means that while these types of burns are relatively rare, when they do occur the burn injuries can be severe, or even deadly. In the 1970’s updated standards were adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which limited the amount of allowable fuel spillage both during and after a front, rear or side impact. Therefore, when a fire occurs in an auto accident, it can be extremely important to determine what caused the fire, and whether the fuel-containment system experienced a failure. The U.S. Fire Administration indicates there were 204,000 vehicle fires in 2016, and of those, more than one-fifth were the result of equipment failure. Auto fires tend to occur more often on highways than city streets or urban roads; driver error and car defects as well as road conditions and weather conditions are largely responsible for automobile fires and the resulting burn injuries. When two vehicles collide, there is always the possibility that one of the gas tanks could rupture, producing a fuel-fed fire which is not only dangerous for those inside the vehicles, but for those close to the accident as well. A leaking fuel tank can result in a spontaneous explosion, creating an extremely dangerous situation. In some instances, an auto defect or auto part defect can be the cause of the fire and could be the result of a seat heater malfunction, faulty wiring, exhaust fluid leaking, or any type of electrical malfunction. It can be challenging to determine who the responsible party really is when an auto fire occurs, however a highly qualified burn injury lawyer has resources at hand to determine whether a cars fuel system design could be the culprit, or whether other improper designs, construction or manufacturing of a specific car component is to blame.
Chemical burns account for about three percent of all burn center admissions. Chemical burn injuries occur when a strong acid or base has direct contact with a person’s skin. A chemical burn can be the result of an accident, which can occur at work, in the home or at school, or can be the result of an assault. Manufacturing plants where large amounts of caustic chemicals are used (chemical fabrication, medicine and mining, to name a few) are some of the most hazardous environments as far as chemical burns go. Chemical burns are not only extremely dangerous, they are incredibly painful and disfiguring as well. Some of the most common types of chemicals which cause chemical burn injuries include:
- Oven cleaners;
- Battery acid;
- Drain cleaners;
- Hydrochloric acid;
- Muriatic acid;
- Sulfuric acids;
- Gasoline, and
- Many other types of acids.
In short, nearly any type of chemical which removes rust or contains corrosive chemicals is also likely to contain powerful acids. These chemicals can break down the proteins in the skin and underlying tissue, resulting in serious chemical burns. Bases, such as alkalis, lime, ammonia, potassium hydroxide and cement are the opposite of acids, yet are equally harmful to human skin. Hydrocarbon chemical burns occur when the skin is exposed to solvents such as gasoline or other petroleum products. The workplace is a common environment for the occurrence of chemical burns, therefore those suffering from a job-related chemical burn should contact an experienced burn injury lawyer as quickly as possible.
Explosion Burn Injuries
Explosion burn injuries can be caused by gas or propane exploding, farm explosions, car explosions and military-related explosions. Gas and propane explosions are more common than you might think, particularly propane-related explosions, due to the fact that propane is heavier than air, sinking to ground level where the scent may not be detected. Whether gas or propane, when a gas leak is undetected, the smallest spark—even turning on a light switch—can ignite the gas and cause an explosion. Many would be surprised that farmworkers are at a particular risk for explosions, due to the fact that dry grain dust is more likely to explode than coal dust. Grain in an unventilated grain silo can explode, farm machinery without proper safety equipment can overheat, exploding and igniting surrounding crops or underground natural gas lines can be damaged during tilling, causing an explosion. In some cases, an auto accident can lead to a deadly explosion and, of course, those in the military are at risk for being the target of an explosion. Explosion burn injuries are almost always severe or deadly—if you or a loved one are involved in an explosion caused by the negligence of another, a knowledgeable burn injury attorney from the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya can truly make a difference in your future.
Electrocution/Electrical Burn Injuries
Electrical burns account for about four percent of burn center admissions. Any time the human body comes into contact with an electrical source, serious injury can occur. Grasping a live wire, falling into water which is electrified, or touching an electrical outlet can result in electrical burns and burn injuries. As many as half of all electrical burns are the result of direct contact with power lines. Those in certain professions, such as electrical repair, construction and cable servicing are at a higher risk of electrical burns and electrocution. There are six primary types of electrical burns, including arc burns, low voltage burns, high voltage burns, oral burns, flash burns and flame burns. Arc burns do not require direct contact with an electrical source, rather is caused by electrical energy which travels from an area of high resistance to an area of low resistance. An arc burn can cause heat in excess of 4000 degrees. A low voltage burn is the result of contact with a power source of 500 volts or less and is likely to only injure the skin rather than tissues or organs. High voltage burns occur when a patient makes direct contact with a high voltage electrical source, causing damage to organs, tissues and skin. Oral burns are more common in children and are usually caused when a child bites into an electrical cord. A flame burn occurs when the source of the burn ignites, creating a flame.
What Are The Types of Burns?
There are several degrees of burn injuries that denote the seriousness of the injury.
First-Degree Burn Injuries
A first-degree burn injury generally only affects the outer layer of the skin. Receiving a mild sunburn could be classified as a first-degree burn injury, so long as the sunburn is not severe enough to cause blisters. Burning yourself on a hot pan or hot iron or being splashed with boiling water can all result in first-degree burn injuries. A first-degree burn injury generally does not require medical attention, and long-term damage is rare, although they do cause pain and reddening of the skin.
Second-Degree Burn Injuries
A second-degree burn damages the outer layer of the skin as well as the layer underneath, known as the dermis. There will be blisters in a second-degree burn, and the skin will be bright red, swollen, and may appear shiny and wet. If the second-degree burn is largely superficial, it is unlikely there will be scarring, however a deeper second-degree burn can leave scars and permanently change the color of the skin.
Third-Degree Burn Injuries
A third-degree burn injury is often known as a “full thickness burn.” A third-degree injury destroys two full layers of skin and damages the nerve endings as well as the skin. Rather than turning red, the skin will appear black, yellow, white or brown, and because the nerve endings are damaged, however the surrounding skin could be extremely painful. Third-degree burns can require days, weeks or months of hospitalization. Scars could require skin grafts and multiple operations by a plastic surgeon.
Fourth-Degree Burn Injuries
Fourth-degree burn injuries penetrate entirely through the skin, burning underlying muscle and ligaments. It is rare for those with fourth-degree burn injuries to survive—the mortality rates are almost 100 percent.
Recovering from Burn Injuries
Depending on how severe the burn injuries are, recovery can be a painful, intensive process which can require surgical procedures and physical therapy to restore function and appearance following the injury. This process can last months or even years and can cause the victim extreme levels of physical pain and psychological pain. Burn victims are also vulnerable to many life-threatening complications if they do not receive adequate care during the recovery period. These complications can include infection, post-traumatic stress disorder, scarring, blood clots, hypothermia, respiratory issues, depression, low blood volume and mobility issues. Infections are the most common—and the most dangerous—complications resulting from burn injuries. When the skin is burned, the body loses the protection the skin provides, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. These infections can include pneumonia, sinusitis, cellulitis, and urinary tract infections as well as many other serious infections
Getting the Help You Need After a Serious Burn Injury
Following a serious burn injury, burn victims will typically require ongoing burn rehabilitation, including physical rehab, occupational rehab and psychiatric therapies. Patients who receive severe burns over their bones and joints can suffer mobility issues as the skin is no longer elastic, thus may require physical and occupational therapy. Mental and emotional trauma can include PTSD, anxiety and depression and may require intensive psychiatric therapy. As you can imagine, burn rehabilitation therapy is extremely costly.
If your burn injuries were the result of the negligence of another, it is extremely important that you contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya for experienced, knowledgeable, compassionate representation. Our attorneys help those with burn injuries throughout the Denver and Northern Colorado areas. We believe you deserve help during this difficult time and that you deserve someone who is firmly in your corner, ready to fight for your rights and your future. If you or a loved one has suffered burn injuries, contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya today.