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Burn Injuries

Burns are injuries where tissue is damaged by either contact with heat, exposure to chemicals, or electrical exchanges. According to the American Burn Association, 1.1 million burn injuries require medical attention each year. Of those injuries, 50,000 require hospitalization. Even more troubling, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 10,000 people die each year from injuries related to burn infections. These statistics show that burn injuries are not only common, but also potentially severe.

Three Levels of Burns

To understand the severity of burns, it is helpful to discuss the three main levels of burn injuries:

  • First-degree: These types of burns damage the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Victims typically experience pain and mild discomfort, swelling, and reddening of the skin. First-degree burns are considered minor, and they typically heal within a week. An example of a first-degree burn is a typical sunburn
  • Second-degree: Second-degree burns reach both the outer (epidermis) and the second layer (dermis) of the skin. Victims commonly experience severe pain, scarring, blisters, and whitening of the skin. In some second-degree burns, a skin graft is required to properly treat the wound
  • Third-degree: These burns destroy the first and second layers of the skin. A third-degree burn may also cause nerve damage, leaving a victim numb to pain. The victim’s skin may appear dry, leathery, and charred and splotchy in some areas. One of the dangers of a third-degree burn is the risk of infection. Burning through the first and second layers of skin leaves one exposed to bacteria, toxins, and viruses. Proper treatment for severe burns almost always involves use of a skin graft. This treatment involves using artificial and natural skin to protect the open wound and allow it to heal properly
Common Types of Burns

The three most common types of burns include thermal burns, chemical burns, and electrical burns. While each of these burn types are different in nature, they are all capable of causing first, second, and third-degree burns.

Thermal Burns: Thermal burns are the most common type of burn. Thermal burns occurs when hot objects, flames, steam, or scalding liquids come into direct contact with the skin. Examples of where thermal burns may occur include kitchen incidents, vehicle collisions, and house fires.

Chemical Burns: Chemical burns are caused by chemicals that have strong acids or bases. One of the greatest dangers in chemical burns is that the chemical continues burning the body until it is completely removed. The eyes are particularly sensitive to chemical burns. Victims can lose their eyesight if the chemical is not quickly and completely flushed out of the eyes.

Electrical Burns: Chemical burns result from contact with electrical currents. The severity of an electrical burn depends on the amount and length of time one is exposed to the electrical current. At high levels of electrical current, major organs can experience permanent damage.

Risk Factors

While burn injuries pose a danger to all individuals, certain groups are at a higher risk:

  • The elderly. These individuals generally have slower reaction times that do not allow them to avoid burn injuries quickly enough
  • Young children. Children have natural curiosity and are inexperienced with hot objects

Certain items around the home can also be a risk factor for burn injuries:

  • Malfunctioning kitchen appliances such as stoves and space heaters
  • Faulty water heaters
  • Poorly labeled cleaning supplies, including oven cleaners, bleach, and ammonia
  • Defective electrical wiring

Burn injury treatment has both long and short-term effects on a victim. Victims must endure painful treatment in the short-term and, in some cases, learn to live with permanent scarring and disfigurement. Common treatment methods, such as skin grafts and reconstructive burn surgeries, are invasive and costly. If your burn injury was the result of somebody else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages. This could include damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost wages. Call our experienced Austin Burn Injury Attorneys if you have questions regarding a potential burn injury claim.