A burn injury is one of the most catastrophic injuries you can face. Burns can kill, disfigure, and disable you. Even a small burn could cause permanent nerve damage and scarring.
Worse yet, burns can cause significant pain and mental anguish. As a result, your quality of life will suffer.
How Does Your Skin Protect You?
You may have read that your skin is your body’s largest organ. It sits at the center of the integumentary system. This system forms the outer layer of your body.
Your skin has three layers:
The epidermis is the topmost layer of your skin. It provides a barrier that keeps microorganisms and debris out of your body. It also keeps your bodily fluids and water inside your body. Your body converts sunlight into vitamin D in your epidermis.
The dermis sits below the epidermis and is the thickest layer of the skin. It supports your epidermis and gives it shape.
- Sebaceous glands that provide lubricating oil to the skin
- Sweat glands that maintain the skin’s temperature
- Hair follicles to protect your skin
Blood vessels and nerve endings sit in the dermis. The blood vessels supply oxygenated blood to the skin cells. The nerve endings detect sensations like pressure, texture, and temperature through the skin.
The hypodermis is the lowest layer of the skin. It contains a layer of fat that insulates the body. It also attaches to the connective tissue of your musculoskeletal system to hold your skin in place.
What Causes Burn Injuries?
Burns happen when a chemical reaction damages and destroys skin cells. Burns can result from many causes, including:
Thermal burns happen when your skin touches a hot object, liquid, or gas. Workplace accidents often cause thermal burns when you bump against a hot machine or appliance. You could also suffer a thermal burn from hot exhaust gases or boiling liquids.
Combustion happens when a fuel source ignites in the presence of oxygen to create flames. Combustion burns can happen in a car accident if the car’s gasoline catches fire. You can also get burned by flames when someone’s negligence creates hazardous premises.
Powerful radiation can damage skin cells. The most common type of radiation burn is sunburn. But you can also get burned by a radiation source due to medical malpractice during x-rays or radiation treatment for cancer.
Chemical burns occur when a caustic chemical damages the cells on an atomic level.
Chemicals that cause burns include the following:
- Cleaning products
- Oxidants, such as bleach
Chemical burns often happen in the workplace or at home due to improper use, defective labeling, or unsafe storage of these dangerous substances.
Electric current can cause a burn. The danger with electrical burns is that the current can heat tissue inside your body as well as your skin. Electricity can also cause other health problems like heart arrhythmia.
How Do Doctors Rate the Severity of Burn Injuries?
Doctors use a three-degree scale to rate burn injuries. The severity of a burn will help doctors identify your treatment options and your prognosis.
First-degree burns only affect the epidermis.
Symptoms of a first-degree burn include:
- Peeling skin
First-degree burns will usually heal with home treatment. You will not experience any scarring with a first-degree burn.
Second-degree burns affect the dermis but do not destroy it.
Second-degree burns cause:
- Blisters or seeping skin
- Peeling skin
These burns usually heal with home care, although you should seek medical attention if they cover a large area. These burns usually heal without scarring or discoloration.
Third-degree burns are also called full-thickness burns. In a third-degree burn, the chemical reaction destroys the dermis.
Symptoms of a third-degree burn include:
- White or charred skin
- Exposed muscle, bones, ligaments, or tendons
- No pain (due to the destruction of the nerve endings)
Third-degree burns require emergency medical treatment. Doctors will dress your burns and administer antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. They may perform skin graft treatment to replace the burned skin.
What Complications Can Arise from a Burn Injury?
Second and third-degree burns can cause long-term complications such as:
When your epidermis gets breached, you lose your protection from microorganisms. Bacteria and viruses can enter your body and multiply. As they multiply, they compete with your cells for resources. Some bacteria destroy body cells by releasing toxins, and viruses can invade cells and use them to replicate the virus.
Your body reacts to an infection with a fever and swelling. A massive infection can trigger a massive response, leading to septic shock and death.
Your skin prevents water loss. When you suffer a large burn, water can evaporate from your body, leaving your body cold and dry. Doctors can reduce water loss with skin grafts using artificial or natural skin.
Scars happen when your body heals damaged tissue. Replacement cells are almost always thicker and tougher than your original, undamaged cells. As a result, your healed wound might have a raised, inelastic texture.
Contractures evolve from burn scars. They happen when scar tissue tightens so much that it interferes with your movement. Contractures can have a disabling effect when they prevent normal movement in your hands, arms, and legs. They can disfigure you when they affect your face.
How Can You Get Personal Injury Compensation for Burns?
If you suffer a burn injury in a work-related accident, you can probably receive workers’ compensation benefits. Kentucky law requires almost all employers in the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance pays medical and partial disability benefits to injured workers regardless of fault.
You can also seek compensation for burns that occur outside of the workplace. If someone else’s negligence has led to your accident, you can pursue compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. These losses can include your medical bills, lost income, and diminished earning capacity due to long-term disabilities, pain, and suffering. A severe burn injury can change your life forever. You might suffer serious complications and have permanent disfigurement and disabilities.
To discuss the compensation you can seek for the effects of your burn injury, contact or call our law office at (859) 550-2900 to get assistance from our legal team at Minner Vines Moncus Injury Lawyers.