Burn injuries often result in permanent scarring and disfigurement, and in many cases, a determination of permanent injury can significantly influence the outcome of your case. Most second degree and worse injuries should be treated by a medical professional. It is essential that you seek medical care for any serious burn.
Burn Degrees and What They Mean
Burns are classified by the size and depth of the injury. The size of a burn is typically represented by the percentage of the overall body that is affected. Each degree of a burn relates to the depth of tissue damaged.
- First Degree Burn – Often a superficial, but painful burn, a first degree burn involves the top layer of skin. A sunburn is an example of a first degree burn. First degree burns are typically treated with ointment and rarely cause long term problems.
- Second Degree Burn – A second degree burn will damage the first two layers of skin. A second degree burn will cause intense redness, blistering, and the skin and may appear glossy. In most cases, medical attention should be sought out.
- Third Degree Burn – These burns penetrate all the layers of the skin. Most often, these are serious burns that cause immediate bursting of blisters. Skin often looks leathery, white, brown, or black, and is permanently dead. The risk of infection is very high with third degree burns and medical help should be sought immediately.
- Fourth Degree Burns – When a burn has exceeded beyond the skin and burned into the fat, it is considered a fourth degree burn. These burns will leave scarring and permanent damage to the area. Medical help is essential.
- Fifth Degree Burns – Burns that destroy the muscle are fifth degree burns. Burns this deep are exceedingly dangerous and need to be treated by a medical professional without delay. Permanent damage and disfigurement is almost certain.
- Sixth Degree Burns – It is rare to see a sixth degree burn that does not result in death. Sixth degree burns penetrate all the way to bone. Most often, chemical burns are the cause of sixth degree burns to survivors.
Types of Burns
There are a number of ways people get burned. Friction burns, radiation burns, and even ice burns happen to Americans every year. At the law offices of Joel J. Kofsky, we see the majority of burn injuries from three sources; Fire, Chemical, and Electrical.
Thermal burns are caused by exposure to a heat source. This can be a fire, or more commonly, hot objects like tools and equipment. Hot liquids also cause a large number of thermal burns each year. Thermal burns typically result in burns from first to third degree, but can cause injuries to significant percentages of a victim.
Most thermal burns in the U.S. affect the lower legs. These burns accounted for 38 percent of inpatient hospital stays and 23 percent of emergency room visits in 2015.
Lots of chemicals around us every day can cause serious, painful burns. Many common household cleaners can cause burns. Most of the chemical burn claims we see involve accidents at work. Many industries in Pennsylvania use highly-dangerous chemicals every day, and these burns can be fatal, cause permanent damage, and result in serious scarring.
During 2013, a total of 1,740 Americans were admitted to a hospital as a result of chemical burns. Another 31,000 patients visited emergency rooms that year for chemical burns.
Electrical burns can be very serious. About five percent of all burns in the US are related to electrical exposure. Electrical burns can be minor, causing mild to moderate shock, or severe, resulting in death. Most household appliances will not shock you enough to cause serious injury, but this is not always the case. Our attorneys have seen a number of cases involving poorly installed and maintained wiring that causes severe electrical burns. In the worst cases, electricity can kill.
About 1,000 Americans are killed each year by electricity. Death by electrical shock is the fourth leading cause of occupational death in the United States.
How Common are Burns?
In the United States, 14,120 workers were treated for thermal burns in 2015. An additional 3,750 workers were burned by chemicals that year according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In all, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey reported that nearly 500,000 Americans were admitted to a hospital due to a burn and 3,750 died from burns in 2011.
Cost and Treatment of Burn Injuries
Treatment for severe burns takes a long time and is not cheap. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, nearly 30 percent of burns result in skin grafts. The average hospital stay was nearly nine days. Lifetime costs for a severe burn that results in hospitalization averages a medical bill of $1.3 million.
Treatment for a burn begins with immediate care. For first or second degree burns, cool water and a light gauze are all that is recommended. Third degree injuries or worse should be examined by a qualified medical professional. Treatment usually begins with cleansing the wound and removing dead flesh to allow the wound to heal. Many third degree burns will require skin grafts that involve removing portions of a layer of skin from one part of your body to cover the burn so that it will heal.
Hospital stays for burn victims tend to be twice as long and twice as expensive as for victims of non burn-related injuries. Compared to all other hospital stays, burns result in more in-hospital deaths.
How We Can Help
The burn injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky see lots of burn cases from work-related accidents and car crashes. We help victims through the difficult process of handling a not-at-fault burn by making sure that you get the medical care and financial protections you will need to recover from your injury.
In most cases, burn injury claims arise from a workers’ compensation charge. Workers’ comp is intended as a no-fault policy to make sure workers are not injured at work without medical coverage. Unfortunately, it is common for insurance companies to try and settle burn injury claims before the full scope of the injury is known and without providing the benefits you need to get your life back.
Our lawyers will not let insurance companies bully you into a settlement that does not meet your medical and financial needs. Burn injuries often result in long periods of time in which you might not be able to work. Worse, your injury might prevent you from enjoying the life you knew before. Our attorneys fight on your behalf to make sure you or your injured family member do not have to live a life of pain and suffering.