Burn injuries resulting from a car accident can leave victims with substantial medical expenses, as well as lost wages. If your burn injuries were caused by another driver's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation.
Types of Car Accident Burn Injuries
A car accident can result in the following three different types of burns:
- Thermal burns. Also called heat burns, thermal burns are caused by contact with fire, hot objects, hot liquids, or steam. A car accident victim could sustain thermal burns if the collision punctures the car's gas tank or if he comes into contact with hot water or steam from a damaged radiator.
- Electrical burns. Electrical burns occur when the body makes contact with lightning or a source of electricity. In a car accident, a victim could sustain electrical burns by making contact with downed power lines.
- Chemical burns. A chemical burn is caused by contact with dangerous household or industrial chemicals. In a car accident, a victim might sustain chemical burns if he collided with a semi-truck carrying hazardous materials or if he was transporting certain types of household cleaning chemicals in his own vehicle.
Rating the Severity of Burns
Regardless of whether it's a thermal, electrical, or chemical burn, burn injuries are assigned the following ratings based on the seriousness of the injury:
- First-degree burn. The least serious type of burn, a first-degree burn is one that only affects the outer layer of skin. It should heal fully in about seven to 10 days and generally only requires antiseptic ointments, topical analgesics, and clean bandages for treatment.
- Second-degree burn. Affecting both the epidermis and dermis, a second-degree burn can cause blisters and scarring. In most cases, a second-degree burn will heal within two to three weeks. However, second-degree burns can be very painful, and victims might need narcotic pain medication to minimize discomfort during the healing progress. Skin grafts might be required with a second-degree burn.
- Third-degree burn. A third-degree burn will cause damage to the fatty layer of tissue beneath the dermis. It can also penetrate the body deep enough to cause permanent nerve damage. A car accident victim with third-degree burns might have skin that looks white, black, or leathery. It's impossible to predict how long the healing process will take with this type of burn, since the victim often needs skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
- Fourth-degree burn. The rarest and most serious type of burn, fourth-degree burns damage tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones. Most fourth-degree burns are fatal, but victims who survive report feeling no pain because of the extensive nerve damage involved in their injuries.
Complications Associated with Burn Healing
Infection and an increased susceptibility to sun damage are the most common complications involved in the burn healing process. Keeping burns covered and avoiding scratching or picking at the area can help prevent infection. Sun damage can be avoided by covering the area with clothing or choosing a high SPF sunscreen for use in the affected area.
Complications such as limited range of motion in the bones and joints and ongoing respiratory problems are a concern when the victim has sustained deep or widespread burns.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Burn injury victims can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of wages during recovery and any applicable future loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
Louisiana law allows drivers to seek compensation for accident-related expenses even if they were partially at fault for the accident. However, your compensation will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
Since a personal injury claim involving burn injuries can result in a sizable settlement, working with an experienced attorney is strongly recommended. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no upfront cost associated with retaining legal representation.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered burn injuries receive the highest possible settlement. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. Appointments are available at six convenient office locations.