Burn injuries are often extremely painful both physically and emotionally. The scars they leave can disfigure for a lifetime. In extreme burn cases, amputations are sometimes necessary. The skin of a seriously burned person is subject to infections, is hyper-sensitive to the sun, and is subject to other ailments.
Many, many people suffer from burn injuries. In the U.S. alone, approximately 2.5 million burn injuries are reported each year. In the U.S., a fire department responds to an emergency fire call about every 20 seconds.
Burn injuries are medically classified into three broad groups:
First degree burns, the least serious, involve only the “epidermis” (skin’s surface lawyer), and constitute only minor skin tissue damage. Such burns can result in redness and very sensitivity to touch. When you put pressure on the skin, it appears blanched. Although first degree burns are minor compared to more serious burns, they can be painful.
Second degree burns involves not only the epidermis (outer layer of skin), but also the second lawyer, called the “dermis”. It is characterized by blisters, swelling, pain and redness. Second degree burns can damage hair follicles and sweat glands. If second degree burns go untreated, they can become third degree burns (describe below).
Third degree burns damage not only the epidermis (first lawyer of skin) and dermis (second lawyer) but also the third and final layer of skin called the “hypodermis”. This most severe type of burn causes charring of skin and coagulated vessels below the skin. These type of burns often result in numbness to the burned area (because the nerves are damaged), but the patient may complain of pain because some of the burn is only second degree (and the nerves are alive). Extensive scarring is characteristic of this type of burn. Total recovery from third-degree burns is not likely because the skin tissue is destroyed.
We have all heard the expression, “where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Conversely, where there’s fire there’s smoke, and smoke, when inhaled, can cause injury, too. Smoke inhalation is responsible for 60% to 80% of deaths from fires. Inhaling smoke damages the lungs, depletes oxygen supply, and can readily cause death. Further, when a fire or explosion occurs, often the materials burning contain toxins that are present in the smoke. Systemic Toxins, when inhaled, can negate the ability to absorb oxygen. This can lead to loss of consciousness and confusion. The long term affects of inhaling toxins is often permanent damage to organs including the lungs and brain.
Not only can smoke cause injury, but just breathing in very hot air can damage the lungs. Heat inhalation lung damage, also called “lung burn”, happens when one breathes in very hot air or a flame. As a result, “thermal injury” occurs, usually only to the upper airways. The secondary airway can be affected too, usually only when hot steam, rather than dry heat, is inhaled.
Fires and burn injuries are usually caused by someone’s negligence, perhaps a property owner, perhaps an employer. A simple careless act can cause death, a painful rehabilitation process or permanent, disfiguring scaring. The Auburn, NewYork burn accident attorneys of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for clients suffering from burn and smoke inhalation injuries and for other injuries. If you or a loved one has been a victim of an accident causing a smoke inhalation or burn injuries, CONTACT US for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.