Burns are very common in the U.S., with more than a million significant burn injuries each year. Only automobile trauma accidents and falls cause a greater number of emergency room trauma visits. Burns may result from automobile, truck and RV accidents, industrial accidents, house fires, exposure to chemicals, or to electrical shock, and rarely, exposure to nuclear radiation.
Frequently, the entire structure and normal functioning of the human body is disrupted as a result of a burn injury. The skin protects the vital movement and containment of electrolytes and fluids, and disruption of this protective barrier can quickly lead to death.
Minor burns are painful, as we all know, but deeper burns are often life-threatening. Blistering occurs with second degree burns, but third degree, deeper burns are the really severe ones. The respiratory system, bones, nerves, and muscles are often involved. Rapid fluid replacement is essential to prevent death. Respiration may become difficult or impossible, due to internal changes in blood chemistry, as well as inhalation of smoke. The body may not properly control its own temperature.
Healing times for burn injuries are very long and infection is a constant threat, as well as a big killer, even in the face of powerful antibiotics and strict isolation techniques. The cosmetic changes associated with deep burns commonly result in devastating psychological effects. Motor function changes of both arms and legs are often debilitating. Hand dexterity is frequently impaired and interferes with a thousand things that the victim could previously do with ease. These types of burn injuries usually require extended recovery times and nearly continuous lengthy periods of physical therapy, to recoup as much normal ability as possible.
Chemical Burns and Electrical Burn Injuries
Chemical burns are extremely dangerous, since their corrosive effects may continue until the chemical is identified and aggressively removed from the burn wound site. Electrical burnsnearly always have associated muscle and nerve injuries, many of which are not visible. These effects may, of course, include the heart muscle and its nerves, causing rhythm problems or cardiac failure.
Insufficient Fire Safety Results in Burn Injuries
Industrial sites are frequently improperly equipped to prevent or handle burns, lacking fire-extinguishers and first aid materials. Manufacturers and commercial buildings sometimes fail to provide a sufficient number of exits. Roof access may not be available. Outside ladders and stairwells may be absent.
Burn Injuries Medical Mistakes
Medical mistakes associated with burn injuries might include failure to recognize the severity of the burn or damage to deep structures, a less than aggressive approach to fluid and electrolyte replacement, or failure to recognize other injuries, such as fractures, the physician being distracted by the obvious burn. Emergency room personnel may be overwhelmed by the number of victims or by other cases of severe trauma. Time is often critical in saving the lives of burn victims; death is common.
Contact a Lawyer About Your Burn Injury
If you have suffered a burn injury as a result of the negligence of others, Parker Scheer recommends that you consult with a personal injury lawyer and evaluate your case. For your free confidential case review click here and receive a response from one of our attorneys within hours. If you prefer, you can also telephone our offices in Boston seven days a week at toll-free.
Back to Glossary of common traumatic injuries