Langston & Lott, PLLC
Langston & Lott, PLLC Burn Injuries
Common Types of Burn Injuries
Some common types of burn injuries are:
- Chemical burns. Chemical burns occur when a strong acid or alkali comes into contact with the skin or eyes.
- Thermal burns. Thermal burns occur when heat sources, such as hot metal or flames, burn the skin.
- Electrical burns. Electrical burns occur when an electrical current runs through the body.
- Inhalation burns. Inhalation burns are due to breathing in hot, polluted air from a fire.
- Scald burns. Scald burns result from exposure to very hot water or steam.
Categories of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are also categorized by determining how many layers of the skin were penetrated. The different degrees of severity for a burn injury include:
- First-degree burns. First-degree burns affect only the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. First-degree burns cause symptoms such as redness, pain, and swelling. These burns usually heal up on their own and rarely require medical intervention.
- Second-degree burns. Second-degree burns cause damage to the epidermis and part of the layer of skin underneath it, known as the dermis. These burns result in redness, swelling, blistering, and intense pain. You should seek medical attention immediately if you’ve suffered a second-degree burn.
- Third-degree burns. Third-degree burns occur when all layers of the skin are destroyed, permanently damaging nerve endings, hair follicles, and sweat glands. Due to nerve endings being damaged, these burns usually aren’t as painful as second-degree burns but will lead to symptoms like charring, numbness, and leathery or white skin. A third-degree burn will likely require surgery and should always receive prompt medical attention.
- Fourth-degree burns. A fourth-degree burn is the most severe type of burn injury. These burns destroy all layers of the skin and damage the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. Victims may also suffer serious nerve damage and symptoms such as intense charring, numbness, and loss of function. Fourth-degree burns require immediate medical attention from a burn specialist.
Long-term Effects of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are one of the most serious and costly injuries you can sustain, and burn victims often have lifelong health problems as a result. The long-term effects of a burn injury include:
- Scarring, discoloration, and disfigurement leading to permanent changes in physical appearance.
- Damaged limbs may have to be amputated in order to control pain and limit the spread of disease.
- Loss of mobility or physical function.
- When skin is severely burned, the nerve endings controlling physical sensation are destroyed leading to numbness, burning sensations, and sensitivity to touch.
- The body often triggers an inflammatory response after burn injuries, and in some cases, the body can overreact by limiting the amount of oxygen flowing to organs leading to organ damage.
- Severe burns damage the skin’s protective layer, which can lead to infection, and in some cases, severe sepsis.
- Burn injuries tend to weaken the immune system, which can lead to an increased risk of several types of cancer.
- Unfortunately, burn victims are often left with bodies that are permanently scarred and disfigured, which provides them with a constant reminder of the incident and a recurrent trigger of traumatic memories. As such, long-term treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other phycological issues, such as depression, flashbacks, and low self-esteem, are common for burn victims.
- Some burn injuries can leave victims permanently disabled and out of work. The loss of income makes it difficult to handle the cost of ongoing medical treatments.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
A burn injury can occur at any time and may result from a number of different events. Some of the common causes of burn injuries include:
- Fires. Fires and open flames are the leading cause of burn injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 43% of cases between 2005 and 2014.
- Explosions. Propane and natural gas explosions are much more common than people realize. Propane explosions are especially common in the Southeast and in rural parts of the country. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death and injury due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA publishes more than 300 consensus codes and standards, which are the industry benchmark for safe LP-Gas storage, handling, transportation, and use. NFPA 58 is the code that sets forth standards contractors and propane providers must follow to ensure safe installations and prevent failures and leaks that could lead to explosions.
- Scald burns. Scalding is a leading type of burn injury in the United States, accounting for 34% of all cases reported between 2005 and 2014.
- Chemical burns. Chemical burns accounted for 16% of all work-related burns. They’re most likely to affect individuals who frequently work around dangerous or corrosive chemicals, such as industrial and agricultural workers.
- Defective products or piping. Products like portable propane cylinders or e-cigarettes can explode and cause severe injuries. Home appliances, like water heaters and stoves are the cause of many residential fires every year. NFPA 54, ANSI Z223.1 provides minimum safety requirements for the design and installation of fuel gas piping systems in homes and other buildings. Unfortunately, those minimum safety requirements are often not followed.
- Electrocutions. Electrical burns accounted for over 1,500 workplace injuries in 2018.
Defective Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are intended to alert bystanders to the presence of fire or smoke early enough to prevent injury or death. So, when someone is burned in a house or apartment fire, there’s a good chance the home or building’s smoke detector did not function properly. And if the condition of smoke detectors was someone else’s responsibility, say a landlord, then you might have a cause of action against the landlord for violating safety rules. Manufacturers of smoke detectors have advertising material that says, “every second counts,” and they’re right. Research has shown that delayed sounding of detectors dramatically increases the risk of serious injury or death.
Smoke alarms fail for a variety of reasons. Some alarms are not hard-wired to a power source and the battery is either dead, not installed properly, or not installed at all. Sometimes the alarms are old and out of date. All smoke detectors have an expiration date. Some models last as little as 5 years and some as much as 10 years. Alarm sensors wear out, and dust and cobwebs make it harder for alarms to detect smoke, so it’s important to keep them clean and replace them before they expire.
If You Suffered a Burn Injury, Contact Casey Lott
Thermal, chemical, electrical, and radiation burn injuries hospitalize and kill thousands of people annually. Severely injured patients often require specialized care, as well as long-term physical and psychological treatment. Our attorneys have extensive experience in representing victims who have suffered severe burns. We have successfully represented numerous victims in burn injury lawsuits, including:
- $7,000,000 settlement on behalf of a young boy who was severely burned when the water heater at his home exploded. Our products liability suit alleged the manufacturer of the water heater failed to equip the water heater with critical safety features which would have prevented flammable vapors from reaching the pilot light.
- $5,325,000 settlement on behalf of a one-year-old child who sustained severe scald burn injuries while in a bathtub at an apartment rented by his mother. Subsequent investigation found that the thermostat on the apartment’s water heater, which had been installed 1-2 months before the family moved in as part of a renovation project, had been set at the hottest possible setting, which allowed water temperatures at the apartment to approach or exceed 150°F. Suit was filed against the property management company and the general and plumbing contractors who installed the water heater at the apartment.
- $3,500,000 settlement on behalf of a contractor who was severely burned when hot and pressurized liquid spewed from a pipe that was not properly isolated and locked out. Our lawsuit alleged the property owner failed to follow standard operating procedures designed to protect the health and safety of their employees and contractors.
- $3,100,000 settlement on behalf of the beneficiaries of a deceased woman who died in a fire where the smoke detectors were not wired correctly and did not function properly.
- $2,500,000 settlement on behalf of the parents of a 6-month-old who sustained burn injuries when an electric deep fryer fell from a counter and spilled scalding hot cooking oil onto the child. Products liability suit alleged that the deep fryer was defective because it failed to comply with Underwriter Laboratories Safety Standard 1083, which was designed to ensure that electrical fryers have cords that detach before fryers can be pulled off of counters.
- $2,000,000 settlement on behalf of the beneficiaries of a deceased woman who died in a fire where the smoke detectors did not function properly because the property owner failed to equip the home’s outdated and improperly placed smoke detectors with a battery before the tenants moved into the apartment.
- $1,900,000 for the victims of a propane explosion. Our lawsuit alleged the explosion was caused by the propane retailer’s failure to properly purge air from the gas lines and place appliances into service following an interruption of service.
- $1,750,000 settlement on behalf of the victims of a natural gas explosion. Our product liability suit alleged the manufacturer of the home’s water heater was responsible for the explosion because it failed to equip the water heater with a flame arrester, which is an inexpensive safety device designed to prevent the ignition of flammable gases outside the water heater’s combustion chamber.
- $1,000,000 settlement on behalf of a two-year old who sustained burn injuries when a stove tipped over spilling scalding hot water onto the child. Our products liability suit alleged stove was improperly installed without an anti-tip bracket.
- $800,000 on behalf of the victims of a propane flash fire caused by defective threads on a portable propane cylinder that prevented proper sealing of the cylinder with a portable propane heater utilized by the burn victims.
- $750,000 settlement on behalf of the victims of an apartment fire where the smoke detector was not installed properly.
- $500,000 on behalf of the victims of a house fire where the heater was improperly installed and the only smoke detector in the mobile home was inoperable.
Having an aggressive, experienced lawyer at your side is vital when dealing with the aftermath of an incident that caused severe burns. Burn injury cases are complex and often require the use of experts in the fields of engineering (fire, chemical, mechanical, or electrical), accident reconstruction, and other specialties to determine the cause of the incident. Additionally, burn surgeons, vocational experts, life care planners, and economists are also required to provide expert opinions regarding anticipated future medical care and related expenses, as well as lost earnings and earning capacity.
The experienced and knowledgeable burn injury attorneys at Langston & Lott will consult with a network of top fire investigators, engineering specialists and medical experts to determine the cause of your incident, the extent of your burn injuries and the identity of any and all parties who may be legally responsible for your injuries and damages. Contact us today for your free consultation.