Burns are some of the most common injuries in the United States – and sometimes, they’re caused by another person’s negligence or carelessness. So what are the types of burn injuries, and what can you do if another person caused yours? Here’s what you need to know.
Types of Burn Injuries
Burns can happen anywhere, any time. Sometimes they’re the result of car accidents, chemical spills, construction site injuries or electrical problems. Other times, they’re caused directly by fire, heat or steam. Check out the most common causes of burns:
- Friction burns occur when a hard object rubs off skin. This injury is a combination of an abrasion (what most people call a scrape) and a heat burn. They’re very common in motorcycle crashes.
- Cold burns are also referred to as frostbite, and these burns damage your skin by freezing it.
- Thermal burns come from coming into contact with a hot object. The hot object raises your skin temperature to the point that your cells die. These are the types of burns you get from fire, heat and steam. Many workplaces, including office spaces, have thermal burn risks (like hot coffee pots, stoves and ovens, and hot machinery).
- Radiation burns come from any source of radiation, including the sun (so a standard sunburn is a form of radiation burn). They can also be caused by X-rays or radiation therapy that’s commonly used to treat cancer.
- Chemical burns are caused by detergents, strong acids and solvents. When these substances come into contact with your skin, your cells begin to die. These are common workplace burns.
- Electrical burns come from electrical currents. These types of burns often occur on construction sites or electrical jobs.
Categories of Burns
Doctors categorize burns into degrees. Each degree represents more damage to skin and tissues, with first being the mildest and fourth being the most severe.
First-Degree Burn Injuries
First-degree burn injuries only affect the outer layer of skin. Think of a mild sunburn, or when you touch water that’s too hot but remove your hand quickly. These burns don’t usually cause long-term damage; in fact, they don’t even cause blistering.
Second-Degree Burn Injuries
Second-degree burns affect the outer layer of skin and the dermis, which is the layer directly underneath it. The skin will appear bright red and swollen, and it might even look shiny or wet. These burns produce blisters. There are two types of second-degree burns, at least in medical terms:
- Superficial second-degree burns damage only part of the dermis. These don’t typically cause scarring.
- Deep partial thickness burns damage more of the dermis. These are much more likely to cause a scar or even a permanent change in the color of your skin after the burn heals.
Third-Degree Burn Injuries
Third-degree burns, which medical professionals sometimes call “full thickness burns,” affect two full layers of your skin. The skin may not turn red; instead, it may turn yellow, white, brown or black. This type of burn damages nerve endings, as well.
Fourth-Degree Burn Injuries
Fourth-degree burns can be life-threatening. They’re the deepest and most severe burns. They destroy all the layers of your skin and damage or destroy muscles, tendons and bones.
Where Are You Most Likely to Suffer a Burn Injury?
Many people suffer burn injuries in the workplace. Although employers are required by law to make workplaces as safe as possible, there are inherent burn risks involved in some lines of work – including construction, working in chemical plants and working as a firefighter. Still others suffer burns due to accidental fires and car accidents.
Can You Sue for a Burn Injury?
If your burn injury was the result of someone’s negligence or carelessness, or if you were burned because someone intentionally set a fire or exposed you to harmful chemicals, radiation or dangerous electricity, you may be entitled to sue.
It’s a good idea to contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney if you’ve suffered a burn injury. Call our office at 818-230-8380 for a free consultation with a lawyer who can help – we’ll visit you at home or in the hospital, or simply talk with you over the phone if you’re more comfortable that way.