The American Burn Association estimates that there are more than 1 million burn injuries every year, and 500,000 burn accident injuries require medical treatment. They estimate 4,000 burns per year result in death, of which 3,500 are from fires and the other 500 are from auto and plane crashes, electricity, chemicals, hot liquids, and other types of burns.
Injuries resulting from a burn accident can cause severe pain, permanent cosmetic disfigurement and life-long emotional distress. Burn victims often require long-term medical care. Serious burn victims are often treated with skin grafts, and because skin grafts do not grow, multiple surgeries may be required. Serious burns can result from automobile accidents, building fires, scalding/hot water, electrical accidents, lighters and matches, and industrial accidents.
Who is at Risk for a Burn Injury?
Burn injures can happen to anyone, regardless of age or occupation. With so many sources of potential burns around in daily life, activities from the mundane to the dangerous may expose someone to the potential for a burn injury.
Though anyone can get burned, statistics show that certain types of people are at greater risk for some burns than others. For example, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that young children are particularly vulnerable to scalding injuries that result in burns. Scalding occurs when a hot liquid or gas, including steam, comes into contact with a victim’s skin. Common causes of scalding burns to children include tap water that is too hot, bath water that is heated to an unsafe temperature, water and liquids that are heated on a stove, or hot drinks, like coffee, that get spilled on a child.
Scalding injuries often occur at home. When a pot of boiling water is on the stove and the handle of the pot is in reach of a small child, it is easy for the child to grab the handle and spill the contents of the pot on himself or herself. As with any type of burn, the longer skin is in contact with the heat source, the more severe the burn will be. When hot liquid is spilled on a child, the liquid can continue to burn until it is completely removed by a towel or until the temperature decreases enough to stop the burning, through normal cooling of the liquid by the air or by combating the hot temperature with cool water.
Older children are less likely to be scalded than younger children in part because their life experiences make them more aware of the dangers presented by boiling water and other hot liquids. However, older children are still likely to suffer burns, most of the time through direct contact with a flame or fire source. Children who are around matches, lighted candles, bonfires or campfires may suffer a burn injury. Not only are the ignition sources of these fires dangerous but the fires themselves are a hazard. Embers can escape from an open fire and burn a child instantly or even cause the child’s clothing to catch fire, leading to more extensive damage.
When a child is burned, it can be just an accident or it can be through the negligence of an adult. Too often, children who are left in the care of a babysitter, daycare, or school are burned and forced to suffer permanent injuries.
Adults are less likely to experience scalding burns than children but adults are often burned while at work. Many of these accidents result in the death or serious injury of an employee. Those who work with electricity are some of the most common employees to suffer burns. Electrical current is strong and can burn or singe instantaneously. Workers who deal with electricity should always receive proper instruction first and should be aware of the dangers they face. When all the safety precautions are taken, these work sites can be safe. However, when employers, general contractors, or management put the interests of the business before the safety of their employees, accidents often occur.
Another type of common worker who may be burned is a restaurant employee. Whether standing at a grill, over an open flame, or by a deep fryer, employees face heated surfaces and liquid that can be several hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Even employees who do not work in the kitchen may be burned in a restaurant. Common injuries result to those who work with as or with a dishwasher. To meet sanitation standards set by governing health departments, dishes must be washed in very hot water. When the clean dishes are removed from a dishwasher, they are often accompanied by steam that is hot enough to burn anyone in the immediate vicinity. The dishes themselves, especially metal silverware or metal utensils, can also be hot enough to cause a contact burn when a worker attempts to handle them.
Another common employee exposed to potential burns are those who work in an industrial setting, including factory workers, assembly line workers, and those who work on any type of equipment. Depending on the specific job and the product being produced, these employees may directly or indirectly come into contact with burning materials that may lead to injuries. Of particular concern are welders who focus on tasks that involve extremely high heat. Common amongst workers who may be exposed to burn injuries are safety gear, including gloves and where necessary, long sleeves. Though safety gear can reduce the severity of burns, the best thing to do is to have a safe working environment in the first place.
What to Do if You Have Been Burned
Immediately after being exposed to a burning agent, the most important thing to do is to remove the heat source. This means removing your hand from a hot grill or removing clothing that may be burning. If a hot liquid has been spilled on you, it means neutralizing the effects of the liquid by using cold water on the burned area.
Prompt medical treatment can make a big difference in the intensity and the degree of the burn suffered as well as the long term effects. If you or someone around you has been burned, you should seek immediate medical care. In addition to treating the exterior injuries caused by the burn, doctors can make sure that a victim gets the medical treatment needed so that the healthy skin around the burn can heal and so that the risks of infection are as small as possible.
Unfortunately, many serious burns leave permanent damage, including scars, scar tissue, and loss of movement. These scars can be disfiguring and unsightly in addition to posing threats to a victim’s overall health. When you have suffered a burn through the fault of another, the law may provide you with the opportunity for relief. Whether through a claim against the negligent person or company directly or through a worker’s compensation claim, you may be entitled to monetary damages.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we routinely represent victims of burns and we fight for their rights. With our decades of experience, we are ready to fight for you, too. We will work to help you make a recovery for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, disfigurement, loss of normal life, loss of income, and any other losses sustained in a burn accident. We look to recover present and future costs when representing a burn victim.
If you or a family member have suffered a burn injury, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.