Serving catastrophic injury victims throughout Virginia
If you sustained catastrophic burn injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence, Phelan Petty can help. Our Richmond burn injury attorneys can accurately assess the cost of the medical treatments you will need for the rest of your life, and will take your case to trial if that is what is best for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more about our catastrophic injury services in Virginia.
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What are the common types of burn injuries?
The three most common types of burns are: first degree, second degree, and third degree. Each degree upward (first to third) indicates greater damage to the skin. The specific damage caused by these burns includes:
- First degree burns – reddened, but non-blistered outer layer of the skin
- Second degree burns – some thickening of the skin with blisters, affecting the outer and lower layer of the skin
- Third degree burns – extensive thickness of the skin with a leathery, white, or charred appearance
In the most severe cases, a burn victim may sustain fourth degree burns. These burns feature all of the symptoms of a third degree burn with the damage extending beneath the skin layers into the bones and tendons.
Potential complications from severe burn injuries
Certain critical, potentially life-threatening complications can arise from burn injuries. These complications can delay recovery and may require surgical intervention to treat. They include:
- Acute compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome is caused by excess pressure building up within a group of muscles, nerves, or blood vessels. These groupings, or compartments, are covered by the fascia, which does not expand; this leads to decreased blood flow within the compartment. This can lead to necrosis (tissue death).
- Burn scar contracture. Scars thicken and tighten over time. If a burn patient develops contracture over a joint, it can lead to decreased mobility or use of the limb. If the scars are over the chest, ribs, or lungs, the contracture can lead to respiratory distress. Surgical intervention is the only remedy.
- Infection. Infection is one of the most common complications of burn injuries, and “the leading cause of death after extensive burn injuries. Multiple studies over the last decade have shown that 42%–65% of deaths in burn victims are attributable to infection,” per research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
What are the causes of burn injuries?
- Car accidents. Serious car collisions can result in burn injuries due to the presence of flammable materials such as gasoline. In serious wrecks, fire and explosion are possible, which can inflict serious third or even fourth degree burns on victims.
- Defective products. Certain types of defective products can also cause burn injuries, such as defective batteries in e-cigarettes, vaporizers, smartphones, household appliances, and other devices, and household appliances.
- Electrical shock. Uncontrolled short circuits and electrical shocks can inflict electric burns. These burns can result in severe internal damage to the body as a result of a heart attack, for example. An electrocution may not even cause an external burn.
- Hazardous and corrosive chemical compounds touching the skin can cause chemical burns. These burns can be the result of workplace accidents or assault. Chemical burns often occur in manufacturing and industrial plants where large quantities of hazardous chemicals are used.
- Thermal heat. Direct heat from a flame inflicting damage upon the skin is referred to as a thermal burn. These burns can be caused by candles, matches, stoves, lighters, and other instruments.
Scalding accidents. Scalding occurs when hot liquid contacts and burns the skin. This type of burn occurs commonly from very high temperature shower or bath water, or when a hot drink accidentally spills on the skin. Scalding is the common cause of burns with young children below the age of five.
What are some common treatments for burn injuries?
Recovery from a severe burn injury often includes a lengthy period of rehabilitation and sometimes repeated and painful therapies. A severe burn may necessitate debridement, the removal of unhealthy or dead tissue (eschar) either through surgery, medicine, or other non-surgical options. This step is required because dead or dying tissue can cause an infection to set it, which may lead to sepsis.
Once the patient has been cleaned, he or she will be given a round of antibiotics, and then prepared for surgery, if necessary. Severe burn injuries can lead to:
- Use of a ventilator
- Use of a feeding tube
- Skin grafts
- Reconstructive surgery
Burn wounds often require multiple re-dressings. Though the initial debridement and/or dressing may be applied to a patient while he or she is under anesthesia, subsequent dressing changes – either in a burn ward or done at home by the patient or caregiver – can be very painful.
Why working with a catastrophic injury attorney is necessary
Catastrophic injury attorneys are well-versed in complex litigation. Their goal is to ensure that wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions, so their clients can seek and receive the medical treatment they need to survive and thrive.
Your attorney may work with doctors, accident reconstruction specialists, financial planners, and other field experts to build a case for liability in burn injury cases. This information helps determine the true financial burdens caused by your injury.
Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company of the liable party during settlement negotiations. If the case goes to trial, that information is presented to a jury. In either scenario, you are more likely to obtain a favorable outcome by securing counsel than you are if you were to present your case on your own.