A burn is an injury to the skin and tissues of the body caused by heat, electricity, chemicals or radiation. Roughly two million people in the United States suffer burn injuries each year, resulting in 300,000 serious injuries and 6,000 deaths annually.
Three Types of Burn Injuries
There are three main types of burn injuries: chemical burns, electrical burns and thermal burns.
Chemical burns result from the conversion of chemical energy to thermal energy. They are caused by tissue exposure to a strong acid or alkali, such as phosphorus or mustard gas. The severity of a chemical burn depends on how long the chemical is in contact with the skin; flushing the skin with large amounts of water is essential
Electrical burn injuries occur when an electrical current from an external source runs through the body as heat up to 5,000 degrees Celsius. The electrical current causes the body to incur a burn injury in several areas, including the current's points of entry and exit on the skin, as well as the muscles and tissue through which the current passes. Damage to the bones, blood vessels and nerves can also occur, and a fatal heart attack may also result if the electrical current passes through the center of the body.
The most common type of burn injury, a thermal burn injury, occurs as a result of residential fires, automobile accidents, matches, gasoline, heaters or electrical malfunctions. Injuries from fire or hot objects include: flame burns, deep burns that penetrate thick areas of skin and muscle; hot liquid burns, deep burns caused by liquids such as coffee, hot grease, soup or hot water; and flash injuries, which are burns to exposed skin that are usually caused by explosions.
Burn Injury Classification
Burn injuries are classified as first-, second- or third-degree burns.
First-degree burns affect the outer layer of skin, or epidermis. These are superficial burns that usually cause redness, swelling and pain. Sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn; while painful, it will usually heal on its own and not cause permanent damage.
Second-degree burns are serious injuries that cause damage to several layers of the skin, going beyond the epidermis to the layer below, which is called the dermis. Classified as either superficial or deep, second-degree burns can affect the outer part of the dermis or the innermost layers.
Superficial burns only affect the outermost part of the dermis, causing pain, sensitivity, redness and blisters; deep burns extend to the deepest layers of the dermis. Deep burns appear as dry, white areas that are painful to the touch. Although second-degree burns usually don't require surgery, skin grafting is sometimes an option for people with extensive injuries. Scarring may result from second-degree burns.
Third-degree burns are the most serious type of burn injuries. All layers of skin are affected, as well as underlying tissue, producing a brown or black leathery appearance. Because the nerves are usually destroyed, third-degree burns usually are not painful, but they require surgical skin grafting or transplantation.
Contact a Burn Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered burns, they may have been caused by another partys negligence. You may have the legal right to seek compensation for your, loss of income, medical expenses, loss of consortium, vocational rehabilitationpain and suffering, and more. Contact a burn injury lawyer to get information and learn about your leagal rights about a civil case and seeking restitution.
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