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Legal Blog

Types of Burn Injuries

Car accidents, truck accidents, fires, explosions, and other incidents can cause burn injuries. Burn injuries can be very serious and lead to infection, skin, tissue, and nerve damage, cardiac arrest, loss of vision, scarring and disfigurement, and emotional trauma, among other damages. The complications a burn injury causes depend on the type of burn that occurred. Knowing the different types of burn injuries and how they can potentially impact victims is important.

Burn Injuries

A burn is a type of painful wound that is caused by thermal, electrical, chemical, or electromagnetic energy. Because the skin is the body’s largest organ that exists outside of the body, it is incredibly susceptible to becoming injured by burns. While smoking and being near an open flame are the two leading causes of burn injuries for adults, scalding is the leading cause of burn injuries for children.

Burns are often categorized into three groups based on the degree-level of the burn, including:

First-Degree Burns

A first-degree burn is the least severe burn category because it affects the outermost layer of the skin. Pain, redness, inflammation, and swelling are all common signs of a first-degree burn. These symptoms disappear as soon as the skin cells are shed. First-degree burns rarely leave any scarring and can be treated at home with conservative measures.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are more serious and lead to blisters as well as extreme redness and soreness. Some blisters burst open and give the burn a wet look. It is important to keep the area surrounding these burns clean to prevent infection and help them heal quicker. Fortunately, most second-degree burns heal within two to three weeks and leave pigment changes rather than scarring. When the blisters from a second-degree burn are severe, they take longer to heal and the burns require skin grafting to correct the damage.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are the most severe because they damage every layer of the skin. Surprisingly, these burns may not cause any pain because of nerve damage. Most third-degree burns are waxy and white, dark brown, leathery and raised, and/or feature blisters that do not develop. It’s important for those suffering a third-degree burn to call for emergency medical help immediately. Surgery is required to treat third-degree burns; and, without a surgical procedure, they will cause severe scars.

No matter the cause of a burn, more serious burn injuries will require immediate emergency medical care to prevent complications and in some instances death.

The most common types of burn injuries include:

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns happen when the skin directly interacts with hot water, steam, cooking grease, hot surfaces, or flames. These injuries can occur anywhere – at home or at a restaurant where a worker may be exposed to conditions that could result in a thermal burn. According to the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America (BRCA), thermal burns account for 85 percent of all burn injuries that require medical attention.

When thermal burn injuries are negligence-based, they are often caused by motor vehicle accidents, house or hotel fires, workplace accidents, the handling or misuse of fireworks, or extremely hot beverages or liquids served in restaurants.

Chemical Burns

Also known as caustic burns, chemical burns occur when an individual’s skin comes into contact with dangerous chemicals. Many chemicals commonly used in homes and businesses can result in a burn injury – most often ammonia, bleach, metal cleaners, fertilizers, hair products, pool chlorinators, and cleaning supplies, among others, can cause chemical burns. Those who work with chemicals as a part of their jobs, children who may not understand the dangers of a chemical, and those involved in motor vehicle accidents commonly experience chemical burns.

If a person suspects they may be dealing with a chemical burn, they must treat it as an immediate medical emergency because:

  • Some chemicals do not mix well with water. For instance, sulfuric acid causes the skin to get hot when mixed with water, so wetting this type of burn would worsen the injury.
  • Untreated chemical burns can result in the chemical traveling through the skin and damaging internal structures.
  • Ingestion or inhalation of chemicals can result in chemical burns to the mouth, throat, and/or digestive tract. It can cause dangerous complications, such as shortness of breath, swelling of the upper airway, low blood pressure, and nausea or vomiting. Chemicals in the eyes can result in permanent scarring and vision loss.

Radiation Burns

Radiation burns can result from prolonged exposure to the sun (or sunburn), as a result of external beam radiation therapy commonly used in cancer treatment, or in the workplace where radiation is utilized. Burns caused by radiation can result in a reddening of the skin, itchy skin, peeling, or dryness, skin swelling or blistering, and open sores.

Radiation burns carry a risk of infection, which requires immediate medical treatment. An infected radiation burn may smell foul or produce liquid oozing from a wound, wounds that look unusually red or become extremely red very quickly, or a fever.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns occur when the body comes into contact with electricity. When this happens, the electrical current travels through the body and exits somewhere else. Along with its movement through the body, the current can damage the internal organs. Like chemical burns, electrical burns should be treated with the utmost seriousness and evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Damage commonly incurred from an electrical burn includes:

  • An irregular heartbeat or increased risk of suffering cardiac arrest
  • Kidney damage
  • Damage to the nervous system causes an individual to pass out or leads to muscle weakness or impacts their ability to see or hear.
  • Damage to the muscles and bones

Electrical burns are most common in the construction industry, where workers are regularly in contact with electric-powered tools, electrical lines, and other sources of electricity.

Friction Burns

Friction burns refer to skin damage caused by contact with a rough or hard surface. Road rash is a common friction burn in accidents involving motorcycles or bicycles in which the rider’s skin makes contact with the asphalt. Road rash can occur to any part of the body but is most commonly experienced on hard, bony areas such as hands, forearms, elbows, knees, and shins.

Houston Burn Injury Lawyers

Regardless of which type of burn you or a loved one has experienced, you should call the Houston burn injury lawyers of The Krist Law Firm, P.C. immediately. We can investigate the details of the cause of the burn, determine whether negligence played a role, and help you collect the compensation you may be entitled to for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, physical pain, mental anguish, and other damages. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.