Burn Injuries: Understanding Your Path to Healing and Support

Every year, thousands of people suffer from burn injuries leading to significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. According to the World Health Organization, a burn is an injury to the skin or other organic tissue primarily caused by heat or due to radiation, radioactivity, electricity, friction or contact with chemicals. The American Burn Association estimates that as of 2016, there were 486,000 burn injuries receiving medical treatment. A compassionate West Virginia burn attorney at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is here to help in the event you or a loved one sustains a horrific burn injury caused by the negligence of another. 

Burn injuries result from a myriad of causes, including heat, radiation, radioactivity, electricity, friction, chemical contact, defective products, fume ignitions, flammable liquids, gas explosions, scalding hot liquids, respiratory damage from smoke inhalation, etc. The statistics surrounding burn injuries are staggering, with numerous cases reported each year. The American Burn Association compiles burn injury data from various sources, including US Vital Statistics. In 2016, the data showed that there were 40,000 hospitalizations related to burn injury, including 30,000 at hospital burn centers. In the same year, there were 2,745 deaths from residential fires, 310 from vehicle crash fires, and 220 from other sources. The odds of a US resident dying from exposure to fire, flames, or smoke is 1 in 1,442.

Approximately 75% of the patients who die from serious burn injuries die from infections. Other dangers include pneumonia, sepsis, pulmonary failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and bacterial infection. Therefore, burn victims who have access to the correct treatment immediately following the injury have the best chance for survival. Here are the common treatments listed by burn severity:

  • First-degree burns are the least serious, only affecting the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and usually heal in a week or less. In most cases, first-degree burns include a mild sunburn and a flash burn.
  • Superficial second-degree burns may result in local infections, blisters, and may heal in two to three weeks. Examples include a sunburn, scalds from hot liquids, contact with hot objects, certain chemical burns, and friction burns. 
  • A deep partial thickness second-degree burn involves the deeper reticular dermis (layer beneath the epidermis). These burns are serious and often result in scarring, contractures, and often require skin grafts. Extensive scarring is normal and expected as healing takes place over a long period of time.
  • Third-degree burns extend completely through the skin and are extremely dangerous, requiring treatment by a healthcare provider. Features of a third-degree burn include leathery and dry skin, skin discoloration that is white, black or bright red, and swelling. Amputation may be required for those limbs that have been significantly burned.
  • Fourth-degree burns are the most serious and extend into the muscle and bone. Amputation and gangrene is not uncommon as the skin actually becomes black and charred. Fourth-degree burns are often fatal.

Long-term treatments for severe burn injuries include physical rehabilitation, prosthetic limbs, physical therapy, psychological counseling, vocational rehabilitation and the possibility of future, extensive skin grafts. 

In addition to expensive medical treatment, burn victims endure severe physical and emotional pain. You may be able to seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit if your burn injury was caused by another person’s negligence. Typically, compensation is sought for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.

Do you need a lawyer for burn injuries? The attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC have three primary goals: to help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, to hold the wrongdoer accountable for their actions, and helping to ensure that it doesn’t happen to some other innocent person. If you were injured in a burn accident, it is essential to obtain qualified and aggressive legal representation from highly experienced and successful West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys.