Kansas City Townsend Law Firm

What to Know About Burns from Car Accidents

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2017 | Car Accident

Car crashes can sometimes lead to a vehicle fire. When this occurs, there is a chance that people in the area, including the car’s occupants, can suffer from burn injuries. While first degree burns are superficial and painful minor burns, they typically heal quickly and without intervention. This isn’t the case for other, more serious burns, which can require much more involved immediate medical attention and a more comprehensive on-going medical treatment.

Burns are divided into four degrees, or levels, with each degree being worse than the previous. Understanding how burns are classified and other information about them can help as you or a loved one tries to heal from these horrible injuries after a car crash.

The 4 Degrees Of Burns

Not all burns injuries are life-threatening, or considered serious burns. Some will require very little medical care, while others will require a medical professional with specialized training. How many and what layers of skin were affected, such as the epidermis, or if there is nerve damage or other systems affected by burn injuries, will determine what degree the burn falls under:

  • A first degree burn impacts the outer layer of skin. The affected area will turn red, but it doesn’t blister. Most sunburns are first degree burns.
  • A second degree burn goes a little deeper into the tissues. The skin will thicken and blistering may form in the affected area. Singeing of hair follicles may occur, but the burn is contained to just the outer layer of skin. These burns are painful.
  • A third degree burn is much more serious. Because of the depth of the burn, nerve endings are destroyed, causing nerve damage. This means that the burn victim might not feel pain at the area of the burn. The area will appear discolored, dry and leathery, and the area might be swollen. These burns won’t heal properly without immediate medical attention and medical care.
  • A fourth degree burn is deeper and penetrates more layers of skin than a third degree burn. Tendons and bones might be affected. Extensive nerve damage occurs with this type of burn. This is the most serious burn, and can be absolutely life-threatening. Extensive medical care by a specialized medical professional is required, and many of these burn victims can not ever fully recover.

Treating Burns

When a burn victim suffers a serious burn, immediate medical attention is required. This is especially true if the burn is covering a larger area of the body and causing massive blistering. When the type of burn is a third and fourth degree burn, treatment at a burn center may be necessary. Bandaging the wound, having skin grafts and getting antibiotic therapy to stave off infections could be required. Some patients may need nutritional support, pain medication and other therapies.

It will be up to your medical professional as to what medical care or on-going medical treatment may be required for your serious burn injury.

Disfigurement Is Possible

Severe burns are sometimes associated with disfigurement. This can be life changing, especially if the burns occur on the face. It is sometimes possible for plastic surgeons to reduce the disfigurement, but preventing it usually isn’t possible.

Right after an auto accident it is possible that leaking gas from the motor vehicle’s fuel system may come into contact with hot metal, let alone open flames, and cause a vehicle fire to ensue. If the gasoline splashes directly onto the auto accident victim’s skin and it is set ablaze, disfigurement can be highly likely.

A person who has to go to a burn center or needs to be hospitalized will likely have to take time off of work. If a child is injured, a parent will likely have to take time off of work to care for the child. As you can imagine, the loss of income can be financially devastating. Seeking compensation could help you recover some of these lost wages.

Third-Degree Burns – Difficult Injury to Heal From

This injury is called a full thickness burn because it destroys not only the top layer of the skin but the layer beneath it.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Full Thickness Burn

A full thickness burn has a leathery appearance. The skin will appear yellow, white, brown or black. The area will be swollen and dry. You might not even realize that there is a problem because the nerve endings have been destroyed.There isn’t going to be any skin or hair in the area. Hair follicles and the epidermis are completely destroyed when a third-degree burn occurs.

Medical Care For Third Degree Burns

You need immediate medical care for a third-degree burn. The extent of the damage means that no new skin or hair will grow. An evaluation needs to be done right away to determine what type of treatment protocol is necessary.Typically, you will get intravenous fluids that contain electrolytes. Some doctors will also give you antibiotics because the infection is a serious risk when you have a burn of this magnitude.

Often, patients with a third-degree burn that encompasses a large area of the body will be transferred to a specialized burn center for treatment. This presents them with a medical team familiar with the treatment of severe burns and the equipment necessary to provide optimal treatment.

A Lengthy Recovery

The road to recovery after a third-degree burn is a long one. The area might need to be debrided, which means that the dead tissue is removed to improve healing. This is a painful procedure that is done in a special tub or in the operating room, depending on the circumstances.

Since there isn’t any chance that skin will regrow in the area, a skin graft might be necessary. This means that skin is taken from a donor site on your body and transplanted to the burned area, called the graft site.

A special diet high in protein is usually ordered during the recovery process to help give the body the fuel it needs to aid healing. Other treatments may also be necessary.

Overall, this is a horrible injury to recover from but don’t lose faith as people can and do go on to live fulfilling and happy lives, despite such a traumatic experience and injury. The time you need to take off of work and the cost of care will need to be addressed, and, thankfully, there are legal channels available.

If you or a loved one have suffered a serious burn injury then reach out to the law firm of Townsend Law LLC and schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. The injury lawyers at our law firm have years of experience in helping burn accident victims deal with insurance companies and medical bills, while they recover from their serious injuries. We strive for a strong attorney-client relationship, providing legal advice and explaining your legal rights under the law.

Call our personal injury lawyers now for a free case evaluation, and we can see what kind of claim you have.