BURN INJURY LAWYERS | MARYLAND, VIRGINIA & WASHINGTON D.C.
BURN INJURIES CAUSED BY FIRE
When a fire occurs on a piece of property, the incident frequently gives rise to a premises liability cause of action. Any type of real estate may contain a hazard that gives rise to a fire, including commercial buildings, public property, a residence, or an apartment building. There are many reasons fires can occur. The most common source of fire is one of the following:
- Appliances & Portable Heaters
- Chemicals and gases
- Consumer electronics
- Lighting Products
- Household products
- Cigarettes and other smoking materials (i.e., tobacco products)
Who is responsible for paying an injured victim compensation for the losses he or she sustains?
Generally, in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C.; an owner or occupier of the premises generally has a legal duty to keep the property clear of any unreasonable risk of injury for anyone who may enter it. The duty extends to such individuals as apartment tenants, shoppers in a store, diners at a restaurant, and other people who may be present at the premises. The justification of applying this duty is that the owner or occupier is in the best position to manage the property and ensure its safety. A visitor is not. Note however that a premises owner is not an insurer for any and all harm that occurs on the premises. The owner/occupier only has a reasonable duty of care to prevent harm that it knows about or should have known about. In cases where burn injuries were caused by the premises owner’s negligence, (such as for failure to maintain or employ functioning smoke detectors,) victims may be able to recover compensation for their burn injuries to address medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and other types of damages.
Extreme Nature of Burn Injuries
As with many types of personal injury, it is difficult to develop an accurate value of the pain and suffering a victim endures and the value of these cases typically varies depending on specific factors applicable in each case. However, considering the fact that the skin is the human body’s largest organ, and contains the most pain receptors in the human body, tissue and nerve damage on the skin and nerves can result in severe suffering. The following factors may be relevant in determining the level of compensation available to a victim:
- Severity of the Burn: Burns are medically classified by the depth, size, and location of the injury. First- and second-degree burns accounting on a small portion of the total body are considered minor. Major burns would be those that cover more than 10%, and those classified as third- or fourth-degree would cover more than 5% of the body.
- Medical Expenses for Treatment: A burn may require extensive treatment, even surgery, which come with high medical bills. Plus, there are the costs associated with future care, as future surgeries may be necessary for scarring.
- Psychological Consequences to Victim: Burn victims often experience emotional and mental problems as a result of, yet secondary to, their injuries. Severe burns commonly lead to deep psychological problems, at times as a reaction to the extreme pain that burns cause. In addition, a victim who is seriously disfigured must endure the unfavorable scrutiny of others, who can sometimes be not so kind.
BURN INJURIES ARISING FROM CAR ACCIDENTS
Burn injuries from car accidents are more common than many people assume. The types of bodily harm that first come to mind are bone fractures, head trauma, injuries to internal organs, whiplash, and similar wounds. Though burns do not typically top the list, they can be among the most painful, traumatic, and life-changing. The long term effects, including scarring and disfigurement, often lead to emotional distress in addition to the physical pain. If you or a loved one suffered burns in a Maryland auto accident, here are some of the basics you need to know about these injuries.
Types of Burn Injuries
Burns can range from a minor sunburn to life-threatening, even fatal, injuries. Medical experts classify burn injuries into four classifications.
- First Degree: These burns are typically mild, as they only affect the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. The skin will appear dry, red, and sensitive to the touch. The wound usually heals in three to five days, but many patients require medical attention to assist with pain management.
- Second Degree: Depending on how deep the injury penetrates the skin, second degree burns are classified as either partial or full thickness. The epidermis and layer of skin underneath, termed the dermis, are both affected by a partial thickness burn. Blisters often develop, appearing deep pink or red; however, the skin turns pale when a slight amount of pressure is applied. A partial burn injury may take up to 21 days or more to fully heal, but skin grafting is not necessary and the scarring is minimal. A full thickness second degree burn will penetrate the entire epidermis and most of the dermis layer of skin underneath. There may be minor to extensive nerve damage, which actually serves to minimize the pain for a victim. However, skin graft surgery is usually necessary, scarring can be severe, and the recovery period is lengthy.
- Third Degree: These burns are extremely critical and require extensive medical treatment over a long healing process. All layers of skin are destroyed, and there may be damage to underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. Again, the pain for a victim may be limited because the nerve endings have been obliterated. The skin appears leathery or charred, and the color may range from ashy grey to white.
- Fourth Degree: The most serious types of burns are often fatal, as the injury penetrates muscle, subcutaneous fat, bone, and internal organs under the skin. If the victim survives, he or she will still suffer significant scarring and disfigurement.
Medical Conditions That Accompany Serious Burns
Even a minor burn can lead to health complications if not treated properly, either by seeking medical care or using over-the-counter solutions. The skin is the human body’s natural barrier, preventing disease, bacteria, and dangerous microorganisms from entering. A burn destroys that protection.
A burn makes a victim vulnerable to infection, and the situation is further complicated by the fact that infection and burns have similar symptoms. The skin around a burn is warm to the touch and sensitive – these are also typical signs of infection. There are other symptoms to carefully monitor:
- Change in the color of the burn injury or surrounding skin;
- Swelling and a purple discoloration;
- A green-ish, mucus-like discharge or pus;
- Change in thickness of the burn, where it extends further into the skin;
- A general change in the way the victim feels.
Serious burns result in fluid being lost through the damaged skin, so a victim may become severely dehydrated. In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to shock, which is a life-threatening medical condition. Often, emergency medical treatment through intravenous fluids is necessary. Some indications of dehydration are:
- Extreme thirst;
- Dizziness when rising to a standing position, from sitting or lying down;
- General lightheadedness and weakness;
- Dry skin and tongue;
- Reduced urination.
Causes of Burn Injuries in Car Accidents
There are three primary sources of burns from an auto collision:
- Heat Burns: Car accidents can cause a fuel tank to rupture, producing a fuel-based fire. Where a victim comes into direct contact with flames or a hot surface, there may be heat burn injuries.
- Electrical Burns: This burn may occur when electrical current passes through the victim’s body. Modern vehicles incorporate many types of electrical systems that can lead to electrical burns; plus, if a vehicle strikes a utility pole, any downed electrical wires may cause injuries.
- Chemical Burns: The most common scenario of a chemical burn is when a victim is involved in an accident with a truck carrying hazardous substances. When the cargo containers are ruptured, the resulting chemical spill may cause serious injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury through no fault of their own, please contact us today for a free consultation.