We know from experience that second and third-degree burns can leave painful physical — as well as emotional — scars. Some burn injury survivors find themselves in specialized burn centers while others spend months in rehab. The physical and emotional recovery process can be excruciating and life-long.
Second and Third-Degree Burns
Unfortunately, burns are quite common. In 2016 alone, nearly 500,000 Americans sought emergency medical treatment for burns. Because first-degree burns are often adequately treated at home, these ER visits were mostly second and third-degree cases.
Second-degree burns cut through the surface layer of skin (epidermis) and affect the second layer (dermis). They cause swelling, blisters, and scarring. Third-degree burns go deeper – to the fat beneath the dermis – and typically destroy nerve endings. Skin grafting is nearly always required for third-degree burns, and also for more serious second-degree burns.
Treatment can be just as painful. As noted above, burn victims are often given skin grafts, a surgical procedure that takes healthy skin and transfers it to the scar tissue. The healthy skin could come from a donor area that wasn’t burned or a cadaver.
Patients with extreme damage may face amputation. Others require plastic surgery. The worst cases are admitted to burn centers where they’re looked after long-term. And many go through physical therapy to regain their range of motion after muscle contractures caused by scarring.
Burned by Another’s Negligence
No amount of money can make up for the pain and loss associated with this severe type of trauma. But if you’ve suffered burns because of another’s careless or reckless conduct, you should speak with a lawyer experienced in representing burn injury survivors as soon as possible. The economic cost alone associated with these types of injuries — including medical bills, lost wages, and future care — often approach the millions of dollars for severe burn injuries.
There are many ways another’s negligence could result in serious burns. We’ll consider some of these scenarios.
At Home and at Work
According to the American Burn Association, over 80% of burn center admissions were for fires that occurred at home or in the workplace.
In 2015, we represented a client who was severely burned in a household explosion. He ventilated his basement before applying concrete sealant to the floors. Despite his precautions, the vapors from the sealant traveled into his utility closet and ignited the pilot light of his water heater, causing a fire that left him with second and third-degree burns over most of his body. He needed skin grafts and weeks of physical therapy to learn how to walk again. He is permanently disfigured from the scarring and deals with PTSD and other emotional consequences of this incident.
Because the defendant sealer manufacturer would not accept responsibility for their role in causing these injuries based on their defective warning label for their extremely flammable product, we were forced to go the distance and have our client’s case decided by a jury at trial. The jury found for our client — and awarded him nearly $11 million.
Thanks in part to standards created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents with fires are relatively rare. But explosions still happen, and crash victims can be burned. This is most likely to occur in serious wrecks when doors are jammed or a driver is trapped under the weight of a collapsed structure.
Flames aren’t the only cause of concern. Victims can also be burned via contact with hot metal or steam escaping from a smashed radiator.
Making Things Right
Burns heal slowly and keep you out of work for longer than most injuries. Bills for surgery and therapy can be ruinous. And there’s the possibility that you’ll never fully recover.
If you’ve sustained severe burns as a result of another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering.
Our attorneys are experienced in handling second and third-degree burn claims and have the expertise and compassion to ensure that you receive the justice you deserve.
For a Free Consultation with one of our top-rated personal injury lawyers, call us at 312-527-4500.