Burn injuries arising from workplace accidents are common, however, most burn injuries occur in the home as a result of house fires, kitchen accidents, grilling accidents and other incidents. When a burn injury is the result of another party’s negligence, victims may be entitled to significant compensation. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious burn injury, make sure you receive proper medical care, and then contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Hunt Law Firm is a premier personal injury practice representing clients throughout the state of New Mexico. Well-versed in the applicable negligence laws, we have a proven history of achieving successful outcomes in burn injury lawsuits. All too often, burn injury victims settle their claims for far less money than they could have obtained through a civil lawsuit. Whether your burn injury was caused by third-party negligence at a construction site or by the use of a defective consumer product, we will fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Common Types of Burn Injuries
The most common types of burn injuries are thermal burns, electrical burns, and chemical burns:
These burns are the result of exposure to flame or heat that typically involve the body’s external surfaces. In addition, victims of building fires who inhale hot or smoke-filled air can sustain thermal burns to the lungs, nose, and mouth. Other causes of thermal burns include:
- Scalding liquids (e.g. boiling water, hot cooking oil)
- Open flames
- Hot objects
Anyone can sustain a thermal burn, however, certain individuals are more susceptible to this type of burn injury, such as those whose work involves cooking or exposure to high temperature equipment, material or flammable chemicals (e.g. construction workers, iron workers, welders).
These injuries can occur when a person’s body comes into contact with an electrical current (e.g. a finger in a light socket, falling into electrified water, touching a live power line, a lightning strike). There are two types of electrical burn injuries — direct electrical burns and indirect electrical burns:
- Direct Electrical Burn — This type of burn occurs when an electrical current passes through human tissue. The severity of a direct electrical burn depends on factors such as the amperage and voltage of the current and the duration of contact with the victim’s body. A direct electrical burn can cause extensive subdermal damage that results in coagulation, necrosis, and hyperthermia.
- Indirect Electrical Burn — This type of injury occurs when the victim is exposed to an electrical arc or a strong current between a highly charged source and the ground (e.g. a downed power line or lightning). An indirect electrical burn can cause instant, deep thermal burns that can be catastrophic or even fatal; an electrical arc can also ignite a fire on the victim’s clothing or surroundings, which will aggravate the degree and complexity of the burn injury.
Workplace accidents are a leading cause of chemical burns often resulting in damage to the skin structure, and deeper underlying tissue, depending on the severity of the burn and the type of chemicals involved. If the chemicals become airborne, victims can experience painful burns to the lungs, nasal cavities, or mouth.
While employees who work in mining, auto repair, and medicine are frequently exposed to dangerous chemicals, workers in chemical plants are at a higher risk of chemical burns caused by:
- Corrosives, oxidizing and reducing agents
- Desiccants, vesicants, and gasoline
- Household chemicals (e.g. cleaners/fertilizers)
- Industrial chemicals (e.g. lye, lime)
Additionally, chemical agents can be absorbed into the victim’s body, which can have a toxic effect on internal organs and may even lead to liver and kidney failure.
Degrees of Burn Injuries
There are four degrees of burn injuries, based on the extent of damage to the skin, muscle, tissue, bone, and internal organs:
- First-Degree Burns — These burns are limited to the first layer of skin (the epidermis). Symptoms include redness, minor inflammation, and pain. Treatment typically involves home care and first-degree burns usually heal within 7 to 10 days.
- Second-Degree Burns — These burn injuries go deeper than the epidermis and reach the dermis, resulting in skin blisters. A second-degree burn may take up to 3 weeks to heal, while severe burns may result in nerve damage and/or require skin grafts.
- Third-Degree Burns — These are severe injuries that destroy the outer layer of skin as well as subcutaneous tissue, which can leave the skin charred and leathery. Treatment for third-degree burns typically includes skin grafts, reconstructive surgery, and other long-term medical care.
- Fourth-Degree Burns — These burn injuries involve severe damage to the skin and nerve endings, and may reach the fat, muscle or bone, which can result in permanent motor damage, amputation, or wrongful death.
Burn Injury Statistics
According to the American Burn Association, over 480,000 burn injuries require medical treatment each year, more than 3,200 fire or burn-related deaths occur, and 40,000 burn injury victims require hospitalization.
In addition, the majority of burn accidents — 69 percent — occur in the home, 9 percent involve occupational injuries, 7 percent are related to street or highway injuries, 5 percent are recreation-related, and the remaining 10 percent are caused by other incidents. A patient’s recovery hinges on the type and the degree of the burn, as well as receiving appropriate medical care as quickly as possible.
Contact Our Experienced Santa Fe & Albuquerque Burn Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has sustained a burn injury due to another party’s negligent, reckless or willful conduct, the attorneys at Hunt Law Firm can help. We will fight for your rights in court and make sure you are awarded the compensation you need and deserve. When you work with our winning legal team, you will not pay any attorneys’ fees until we win compensation for you. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.