Burn Injuries and Wrongful Death Caused From Burn Injury Cases
Over the past 25 years, we’ve had the opportunity to help many burn victims and families who have experienced a wrongful death because. Several cases which come to mind are as follows.
Our client was involved in a relatively minor accident while driving her car on the freeway. After the collision, her car had eventually come to rest in the number one (fast) lane.
While still seated in her car, our client’s vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle. Because of a defectively designed gas tank assembly, our client’s vehicle immediately exploded into a ball of fire and she burned to death. Surviving family members are now forced to live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives.
In another case that we handled, a young girl experienced very serious burn injuries to her face and hands as a result of a Halloween pumpkin, negligently filled with a highly flammable liquid, tipping over and pouring on to her while trick or treating on Halloween night.
We also have represented wonderful clients burned by automobile accident gasoline related spills. In other cases, young children severely burned because of their exposure to high voltage electrical lines.
The fact of the matter is that burn injuries are usually very serious and they happen every day. In fact, each year in the United States, about 4,500 people die from severe burn injuries. Another 45,000 people are hospitalized. Up to 10,000 people in the United States die each year of burn-related infections. When you look at the total numbers, more than 1.1 million of our citizens experience some type of burn injury each and every year.
Most burn injuries cause extreme pain and many burn victim injuries become worse as a direct result of infection. Scaring, disfigurement, and even loss of limbs, fingers, and toes, are also unfortunate byproducts of major burn injuries.
Many of the burn victims we see are harmed by the wrongful conduct of others. Accidents, defective products, and just plain carelessness (negligence) are the primary causes. Sometimes burn victims are harmed because of another person’s intentional conduct. In the intentional conduct burn cases, the District Attorney’s Office will normally get involved and criminally prosecute the wrongdoer.
Burn injures normally result in high medical bills and related rehabilitation expenses. Because many surgeries, including reconstructive surgery may be required over a long period of time, the medical expenses we’ve seen in burn cases are usually high.
While recovering, most burn injury victims are temporarily or permanently disabled and are unable to work. Income is lost and because of this, bills cannot be paid. Financial disaster is the norm and not the exception.
There are several different types of burns. The most common are referred to as thermal, chemical or electrical burns. Fire, hot steam, hot metals, and scalding liquids normally are the cause of thermal burns.
Burn victims exposed to acids, alkalies, and some detergents and solvents are generally victims of chemical burn incidents. High voltage electrical currents can and will cause electrical burns to the human body.
Health care providers will normally classify the severity of a burn by the number of layers of skin that is burned and the amount of area of a burn victim’s body that is actually burned.
You’ve probably heard of a first degree burn. This type of burn injury is usually minor although it can be somewhat painful. Normally only the outer layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis, is burned or damaged.
A second degree burn is a more serious type of burn injury and also known as partial thickness burns. In addition to the epidermis being burned, the second layer or dermis is also burned.
The most serious type of burn injury is known as a third degree burn. In a third degree burn, the first and second layers of skin are burned or destroyed. In many instances, third degree burns also include physical burns and damage to bones, tendons, and muscles. Areas of a burn victim’s body experiencing third degree burns normally appear charred in the worst of cases. Because nerve endings are normally damaged in third degree burn cases, there is often little if any pain associated with a third degree burn injury.
According to the American Medical Association, total body surface area (TBSA) is one of the parameters used to classify the severity of a burn. For example, a minor burn would include less than 10% total body surface area in an adult or less than 5% in a young or elderly burn victim. Also less than 2% full thickness of the burn itself.
A moderate burn would include 10-20% total body surface area in an adult or 5-10% in a young or elderly burn victim. Also a 2-5% full thickness with the burn itself. A major burn would include more than 20% total body surface area in an adult or more than 10% in a young or elderly burn victim. Also more than a 5% full thickness with the burn itself.
When it comes to treating burn victims, there are several different approaches used by health care professionals. Normally, dead tissue is surgically removed through a process called debridement. Skin grafts are needed to effectively treat the more serious burn injuries.
In serious burn cases involving the face or hands, surgical techniques are used to help rebuild the ears, nose or mouth regions. In some instances, body grafts may also be an option for replacing fingers and or toes.
Physical therapy is used to help burn victims regain use of their bodies and limbs and to help eliminate or reduce scarring. One or more cosmetic surgical procedures are also required in the more serious burn cases. As young burn victims grow, the skin grafts will normally need to be replaced in light of the fact that skin grafts will not expand. Any resolution of a burn victim claim should always take into consideration these very real future medical treatments and billings.
Medical techniques for helping burn victims have substantially improved over the years. Although most burn victim injuries are severally physically harmed, there is also the emotional element of harm and damages that needs to be taken into consideration. Disfigurement, scarring, and lack of use issues all play a role in a burn victims recovery.