Burn injuries are extremely painful, and potentially life threatening medical issues that can be caused by a wide variety of things both in and outside of the home. They can often occur as a result of automobile or on-the-job injuries, and are not uncommon occurrences to be suffered by patrons at restaurants. In 2015 approximately 486,000 Americans presented for medical care as the result of burn injuries.
Types of Burn Injuries and Severity
Burns are not just caused by heat (thermal burns); they can also be caused by contact with electrical current, chemicals, or radiation, such as in industrial accidents, or by friction as in the case of “road rash” or the contact injuries that athletes and children suffer from sliding on gym floors or carpet. The severity of burns is divided into four categories:
- First Degree Burns affect the outermost layer of the skin and usually cause minimal injury. They will present as redness and light inflammation and usually heal within a few days. Typically they do not require medical intervention unless they occur on a face or one of the major joints, or involve an area larger than three inches
- Second Degree Burns involve more than the top layer of skin and often cause blisters. Second degree burns often take two to three weeks to heal, sometimes even requiring skin grafting to treat, and can be particularly painful because the nerve tissues are damaged but not completely destroyed. Second degree burns can often be treated at home, but medical care should be sought if they are larger in size and involve areas of the face, hands, buttocks, groin, or feet.
- Third Degree Burns are an immediate medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has suffered a third degree classification burn you should contact your local emergency services as soon as possible. Third degree burns, or full thickness burns, involve damage to all the layers of skin and extend into the immediately underlying tissues. The skin will take on a waxy or charred appearance after suffering a third degree burn, but oddly these burns can often be only minimally painful due to extensive nerve damage and the onset of shock.
- Fourth Degree Burns extend past the skin and immediately underlying tissues and damage muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and eve bone. Because of the amount and depth of the damage done, fourth degree burns often have a low probability of survival and will require a tremendous amount of medical care for there to be a chance of recovery. They are often caused in industrial settings after the victim has been in contact with high voltage electricity. When a person comes into contact with a major electrical source, the current will seek to ground itself out through their body, often causing a burn that runs from the point of contact through the feet, damaging everything it comes in contact with along this route. Burns caused by microwave radiation and some kinds of broadcasting equipment have a similar mechanism, in that the majority of the injuries are caused internally.
Burn injuries can be incredibly painful, causing severely debilitating injuries that will require expensive, long term medical treatment to recover. If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury, either occurring by itself or in combination with an industrial or automotive accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Colombo Law to discuss your situation and see how we can help you on your road to recovery.