We are personal injury lawyers who understand burn injuries and that victims of those injuries need special attention and care to deal with the devastating physical and mental effects burns have. Coupled with the scarring and dramatic mental effects; burn victims usually have to fight infections and undergo multiple surgeries and trips to the hospital due to their susceptibility to infections.
Most common burn injuries are caused by auto accidents, work related injuries, construction site accidents, explosions, fires, and crashes. Additionally, burn and friction injuries (i.e. road rash) are very common in motorcycle crashes and bicycle accidents.
Whatever the cause of the burn, a good burn injury attorney knows how to express to the insurance companies and jury just how debilitating and painful burn injuries are and the long-lasting and severe effect on the victim’s quality of life.
Degrees of Burns – 1st through 4th Degree
Burn Injuries are classified by how deep the injury is, 1st degree being the least severe all the way up to 4th-degree burns, the most severe.
1st Degree Burns are characterized by general redness ad skin that is painful to the touch and dry. Generally, these burns heal within about one week and have few, if any, complications.
2nd Degree Burns extends beyond the top layer of skin (the epidermis) and into the dermis, the first under layer of skin. These burns appear red with blisters, the skin has a wet or moist look and requires several weeks to heal. At this level, the burn victim becomes susceptible to local infections. Some more severe 2nd-degree burns extend into the deep part of the dermis and appear as red and white bloody blisters. These more severe second-degree burns take many weeks to heal and sometimes progress into third-degree burns.
3rd Degree Burns goes into the deep layers of the skin and all the way through the dermis. Most people never see or experience burns of this level as they are quite severe. The skin appears stiff and brownish white with a dry leather-like texture. These burns do not heal without surgical excision and skin grafting. Sometimes these burns even require amputation.
4th Degree Burns go all the way through the skin and into the muscle and bone, fourth-degree burns appear as black and charred and the only treatment is excision and the result is usually amputation or severe functional impairment at best.
Severity – Major to Minor Depending on Body Surface Area Affected
In addition to degrees, burns are classified as major, moderate, and minor, this determination is made depending on the surface area of the skin affected by the percentage of body surface area. While there is some variation with age, typically major burns are classified as burns on more than 25% of the body’s skin surface, moderate being 15-20%, and minor being less than 15%.
Causes of Burn Injury
As mentioned above, in the personal injury law arena I see burns caused a number of ways, usually motorcycle accidents, but also work injuries, car accidents, and explosions. But the cause can also be identified by the mechanism of the burn: obviously fire, but also, chemical burns, electrical burns, radiation burns, scalding, and friction burns.
Chemical Burns are burns caused by acids or other toxic chemicals. Chemicals can cause the most severe types of burns, all the way to the bone, and sometimes are not apparent until some time after the exposure to the burning chemical.
Electrical Burns resulted from electrical shocks or a burn from a hot electrified heating element. Electrical burns are most common in personal injury cases through workers’ compensation injuries as the exposure to potential electrical burn sources is more common on construction sites and in industrial applications.
Radiation Burns are most commonly seen when someone has a sunburn from overexposure to the sun or a tanning element. Additionally, microwave energy is a source of burning radiation that is seen in industrial worksite injuries.
Scalding Burns are burns from hot water, steam, or other venting gases. Besides sunburn, this is the most typical type of burn an average person sees. However, highly heated water, steam venting, and other hot liquids is not an uncommon source of injury for workers.
Friction Burns as I like to call them is basically road rash or any burn caused by impact with airbags, hitting the pavement after crashing on a bike or motorcycle, or even one instance where we represented an injured pedestrian dragged by a fleeing criminal alongside his car.
Familiarity with burns, their cause, treatment, and symptomology is critical in the evaluation and successfully pursuing a personal injury case involving burns. Proper valuation of a case is key in knowing when to pursue a burn injury settlement and when to go to a jury.
Contact a St. Louis Burn Injury Lawyer
We have and do represent burn victims and are skilled burn injury lawyers with knowledge of the medical and legal issues that must be dealt with and articulated to a jury in burn cases to get the money deserved by our clients for such a devastating injury.
Burn injury cases present unique challenges that require the experience and expertise of an injury lawyer who has dealt with burn injury cases in the past. The issue of damages is very important as the determination of the amount of compensation a burn victim is entitled to must be articulated properly to present not only the permanent physical scarring but the often even more debilitating mental and emotional scarring that lasts forever.
Recent case – we recovered a huge burn injury settlement (confidentiality agreement signed with nursing facility) for a burn injury victim after his home health care nurse negligently tested the shower water resulting in 2nd degree burns to his legs and feet. The victim was a paraplegic and no feeling in his legs, so he had no idea the water was scalding hot.