The Dangers of Burn Injuries in Maryland Car Accident Cases
While you might expect to suffer cuts, broken bones, or a head trauma in an accident, there is an additional danger you might not anticipate — burn injuries. According to the American Burn Association, more than 125,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year for burns, many of which are linked to motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, around 96.8% of these victims will survive; however, a large percentage will sustain significant scarring, disfigurement, physical limitations and disabilities, and emotional consequences.
Classifications of Burn Injuries
One of the first issues that comes up in these cases is the severity of the burn, which is primarily important because it will determine your short- and long-term medical treatment. The medical profession has established a classification system for burns depending upon how deep the penetrate the skin:
- First Degree: These burns are superficial in nature since they only affect the outer skin, termed the epidermis. Mild sunburn is an example, with such symptoms as redness, minor pain, and dryness. There are no blisters and minimal, short-term tissue damage.
- Second Degree: Sometimes called a partial thickness burn, the injury penetrates below the epidermis into the skin’s dermis layer. The affected area will be deep or dark red and blistered. The victim will likely experience pain and swelling.
- Third Degree: This full thickness burn destroys the epidermis and dermis, and may penetrate into deeper tissues. Third degree burns can cause significant damage to the muscles, tendons, and bones, since skin is no longer there to protect them. The burn site may appear white or charred, but it may not be as painful as other injuries because the nerve endings in the skin have been obliterated.
Sources of Burn Injuries in Vehicle Crashes
There are four major sources that can lead to burn injuries for victims of car accidents:
- Thermal burns come from the flames that result from a fire or explosion, as well as through contact with a molten surface. In an auto collision, the violent impact could cause a fire; it is also possible for skin to brush against hot metal or engine parts.
- Scalding is a burn that comes from exposure to hot liquids, such as steam, water, or oil – all of which are present in a vehicle and can be disrupted in a crash.
- Electrical burns can occur if a person comes into contact with loose wiring or various electrical components of the vehicle’s systems.
- A chemical burn may result when hazardous substances, corrosive materials, or acids spill onto the skin. Many semi-trucks haul these chemicals, but some – such as battery acid – could come from a passenger vehicle.
Complications from Burn Injuries
Burn victims typically have a long road to recovery. In addition to the burn itself, there are also complications and medical conditions that have secondary effects. For example:
- Infection: The skin is the human body’s first, most protective layer against bacteria and germs. Victims are more susceptible to infections from burn injuries, though the severity depends upon how much of the epidermis and dermis were affected.
- Septic Shock/Sepsis: Closely tied to infection is septic shock, which can develop when a burn-related infection enters the bloodstream. The infection is essentially a poison, and blood carries it throughout the body.
- Scarring: With severe burns, a victim could require skin grafts and other surgery – perhaps several procedures over time. The scarring that results, both from the burn and the procedures, can lead to serious physical limitations.
- Emotional Disorders: Severe burns and the associated scarring can have significant consequences for a person’s emotional well-being and self-esteem. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and related conditions are common.
Compensation for Car Accident Burn Injuries
As mentioned, if you or someone you love has suffered burn injuries in a collision, there may be legal remedies for those injured, including potentially the ability to seek monetary damages. Such damages can include compensation for:
- The medical bills you incur for treatment, including emergency care, skin graft surgery, hospitalization, pain medications, cosmetic surgery, and physical therapy;
- Lost wages, if you were forced to miss work because of your burn injuries;
- Pain and suffering;
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Emotional distress, which often accompanies severe burns;
- Losses that affect your personal relationships with loved ones; and,
- Other types of compensation.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer
While this overview of your legal remedies after suffering a burn injury in a car accident may be helpful, there are frequently numerous complexities involved with burn injury cases. For more information on how we can help enforce your rights as a burn victim, or seek money damages on your behalf, please contact our Baltimore office to schedule a no-cost case evaluation.