The American Burn Association estimates that there are more than 1.1 million burn injuries in the United States annually. The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services says 432 burn victims were treated in Massachusetts hospitals in 2013.
On its most basic level, a burn is tissue damage caused by one of several agents, like fire, thermal heat or chemicals. The prognosis for victims of burn injuries depends on the extent of the burn and the victim’s age, among many other factors. Serious burns require lengthy medical care and there is a high risk of infection and other complications. Many burn victims who survive the initial accident require months of treatment and reconstructive surgery.
If your burn was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries and related losses. The attorneys at Kelly & Soto Law can help you pursue a claim for the financial restitution you deserve.
Burn Injuries and Their Likely Causes
Burn injuries are classified by their severity or the amount of damage done.
- A first degree burn indicates damage to the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, that does not include blistering.
- A second degree burn indicates damage to the epidermis as well as the underlying layer, which includes blistering. Second degree burns that are deep can cause scarring.
- A third degree burn destroys both layers of skin and underlying tissue, and can cause nerve damage. Victims of third degree burns usually require skin grafts to repair the damage.
- A fourth degree burns damages muscle, tendons and bone, and is usually fatal. Skin that remains may be blackened or charred and there is extensive nerve damage.
Burn injuries are typically caused by:
- Hot liquids or vapors (scalds), such as from cooking liquids and grease, tap water (particularly in baths), food, beverages, and steam.
- Fire, including campfires, bonfires, house fires, motor vehicle fires, brush fires, structure fires.
- Open flame, including stoves, woodstoves, grills, candles, smoking, fireworks, welding, and cutting torches.
- Explosions caused by ignitable gases, such as natural gas from a gas fireplace or gas grill, ignitable liquids, welding, cooking with pressure cookers, chemical or demolition explosions at work sites, and fireworks.
- Contact burns caused by touching hot objects, including stoves, pots, pans and cooking utensils, heaters and heating equipment, car radiators, clothes irons, machinery, hot metal, hot wax, and asphalt.
- Electricity and electrical currents, such as from appliances, electrical outlet, frayed cords, or power lines.
- Chemicals, including gasoline, acids, lye, paint thinner, etc.
- Radiation, including infrared radiation from the sun, i.e., sunburn, and x-rays or other medical or workplace machinery.
The Medical Aftermath of a Burn Injury
A third or fourth degree burn, or a burn that covers the face, groin, a large joint or a large portion of the body is a medical emergency. Severely injured burn victims require hospitalization and, in most cases, surgery. Surgery may include:
- Debridement, which is removal of dead, loose or contaminated tissue, including skin
- Skin grafts, with healthy skin taken from other sites on the patient’s body to repair burn sites
- Cosmetic surgery to repair scarring and disfigurement.
A patient who has been severely burned may suffer a variety of complications, including pneumonia or other infections and hypothermia, due to the loss of the protection provided by skin. In some cases, the burn victim’s throat swells, requiring a tracheotomy and/or intubation to allow continued breathing. Inhalation of heated air or smoke in a fire can cause scarring of the lungs and ongoing respiratory problems. Many people who are badly burned go into shock soon after their accident and die.
A patient who recovers from a severe burn may face multiple surgeries as well as occupational and/or vocational therapy, and psychological counseling. Victims of burns to the face and head may be disfigured. Burns to the limbs may lead to amputation. A burn victim may be permanently and totally disabled and require assistive mobility devices such as walkers or wheelchairs or a life care plan for managing their ongoing medical requirements and their costs.
We Pursue Burn Injury Cases
The medical costs of a severe burn injury can be significant, and for some the treatment costs are ongoing. A burn victim also will suffer a loss of income during their recovery. You may be facing a lifetime of reduced earnings if a severe injury leaves you unable to return to work. It’s important to maximize the compensation that you are entitled to receive.
At Kelly & Soto Law, our attorneys are focused on recovering full compensation for our clients’ medical bills, lost wages and future earning capacity, and for their pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious burn, you will need an aggressive attorney on your side. Obtaining appropriate compensation for a significant burn injury requires an investigation that identifies who or what organization should be held liable, and that accounts for all current and future losses.
Burn injuries typically occur in home settings, including day care centers, nursing homes and similar residential institutions, and at workplaces. Accidents that lead to fires or burn injuries can also occur at businesses, stores, or offices. Responsible parties at any such location may be held liable and compelled to compensate you if evidence shows that their negligence caused the accident that led to your burn injury.
Contact Our Boston Burn Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one of yours has been severely burned in an accident in Boston or anywhere in Massachusetts that you believe was someone else’s fault, let Kelly & Soto Law investigate a potential claim for you. Our attorneys are aggressive with insurance companies and will do everything in their power to ensure that insurers involved in your case do what’s right by you.
To speak with one of our experienced burn injury lawyers today, call 617.807.0855. If you would like to be contacted by one of our attorneys within 24 hours, please fill out the free consultation form on this website.
- Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System 2013 Annual Report
- American Burn Association 2013 National Burn Repository
- Mayo Clinic: Burns