According to the Centers for Disease Control, close to a million burn injuries occur in the United States each year that are severe enough to require medical attention. Hospitalization is required in approximately 50,000 cases, and 20,000 of burn cases involve burns that cover a quarter of the body's surface or more. More than 4,000 die from these burns, and as many as 10,000 die due to related infections.
Types of Burns
There are many things that can cause burns on the skin:
- Thermal burns are caused by heat sources such as hot metals, flames, scalding liquid and steam
- Radiation burns are caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays or other radiation. The sun and X-rays are most likely to cause these burns
- Chemical burns are caused by acids, alkalines or detergents that contact the skin or eyes
- Electrical burns are burns caused by an electrical current, such as a faulty wire.
Regardless of the source of the burn, the severity is determined by the "degree" in which the burn has occurred. First degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin, involve limited pain, and heal easily. Second degree burns involve a deeper layer of skin, and involves increased blistering and swelling. Third and fourth degree burns run the deepest of all, into the third and inner-most layer of skin and beyond into the bones, muscles and tendons. The most severe burns destroy nerve endings and leave the area without feeling.
Cost and Causes of Burn Injuries
According to research conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2010 medical costs from burn related injuries in the U.S. totaled $1.5 billion, and it was estimated that burn victims and their families lost an additional $5 billion due to a reduced ability to work.
Many burn injuries happen as a result of basic household accidents, such as a child touching a hot stove, getting burned from hot water, or severe sunburn. Some accidents happen with little or no fault to the victim. There may be chemicals kept unsafely in the workplace, fireworks at a public park that were not properly guarded, or unsafe electrical systems at a construction site. In any of these instances, the injured person may have the right to take legal action to regain medical expenses, lost wages, or be compensated for pain and suffering,
If you have been affected by a burn injury, a personal injury lawyer can assess your case and determine how strong your case might be, and give you the best chance of getting the compensation you need to move forward with your life.