January 15, 2018
Traffic Accidents Can Cause Serious Burn Injuries
Many people are burned by defective products or overly hot food or beverages, but traffic accidents also cause their fair share of burns. The effects of burns can be devastating, causing serious pain and injuries that require a long rehabilitation period. In particularly serious situations, burns can even lead to death. If you or a loved one has been burned in a traffic accident, you should contact an experienced Philadelphia traffic accident lawyer today.
What Causes Burn Injuries in Accidents
Almost any vehicle that runs on fuel could potentially burst into flames if it is hit in the right way. After the fuel tank ruptures, gas spills out and can ignite whenever it hits something hot. The resulting fire can trap victims in their cars or burn them as they flee to safety.
Burn injuries can also occur when large trucks are carrying toxic or flammable material in its cargo. For example, a truck could be carrying corrosive chemicals, which leak after a bad crash, burning victims. Large trucks can also cause fires when their fuel tanks rupture, just as smaller vehicles can.
Types of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries can range from minor to severe, and each requires different levels of treatment. If you’ve been burned in an accident, you should seek medical treatment right away. Your attending physician will study the burn to determine its severity and order an appropriate course of treatment. Typically, burns fall into one of three categories:
- First-degree burns only cause damage to the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). You’ll typically experience swelling and redness, along with pain.
- Second-degree burns damage the epidermis as well as the layer underneath (the dermis). Second-degree burns cause redness and swelling but also result in blisters.
- Third-degree burns damage both layers of skin as well as bones, nerves, muscles, and the tissue underneath the skin. Third-degree burns often appear black or white.
Furthermore, burn injuries aren’t only physical. Victims can suffer a variety of mental health problems including depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, and fear of driving. Burns are also particularly traumatic when a visible part of the body is burned, such as a person’s face. Because our faces are tied to our sense of selves, burn victims can lose their sense of identity and begin to withdraw from society.
Treating a Burn
After an accident, attempt to apply copious amounts of water to the burn but don’t aggravate the skin or try to pull off foreign objects, such as melted plastic. If you do, you might end up making things worse by tearing away skin or tissue. Instead, call emergency services as soon as possible. The doctor at the hospital will assess the burn and order an appropriate course of treatment.
First-degree burns often require running under cold water for 10-15 minutes. To help with healing, you might apply aloe vera gel, and you can use over-the-counter medication to manage your pain.
Second-degree burns should be covered with a cool, moist cloth or bandage. The injured area should be elevated above the heart while you ride to the hospital. Second-degree burns that cover a large area of the body are quite serious and will need to be looked at by a doctor.
Third-degree burns might need a skin graft. With this procedure, the burned and deadened skin is removed from the wound and skin is taken from elsewhere on the victim’s body. This skin is then grafted to cover the wound. If you’ve suffered muscle, bone, or nerve damage, you might need additional surgery or rehabilitation (or both).
All burn injuries also create a risk of infection, which must be treated before the infection spreads or enters the bloodstream. In particular, look for oozing from a wound as well as any increase in swelling or pain or redness. Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to take.
Holding Someone Responsible
The fact that you were injured in an accident doesn’t automatically mean someone is legally to blame. Instead, you’ll probably need to show that someone was negligent (careless) and that this negligence caused your burn injuries.
Most accident victims probably have no idea who is to blame, so your personal injury attorney will analyze the surrounding circumstances by reading the police report, interviewing witnesses, and visiting the scene of the accident. As soon as possible, you should write down your own memories while they are fresh because that is helpful information as well.
Typically, your lawyer will be looking for a traffic violation that another driver committed, such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield. These violations will help convince a jury that the other driver was driving negligently and must be held responsible.
Getting Compensation for Your Injuries
If someone else is at fault for the accident, you can hold them legally responsible for your injuries. Burn victims typically receive compensation for the following:
- The costs of medical care and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering, which includes mental anguish
Many factors go into determining how much your injuries at worth. After receiving medical treatment, make sure to hold onto all paperwork, including medical bills and prescription drug expenses. Keep copies of your medical records, which will give your lawyers some sense of the severity of your injury. Also, find proof of income if the burn has caused you to stop working. Wage earners should find a recent pay stub or W-2 form, while self-employed victims can use a recent profit-and-loss statement.
To prove pain and suffering, you should hold onto all prescription drug bottles and also keep a diary of the pain you feel each day. Also, describe how your burns have disrupted your daily life. For example, many people can no longer enjoy hobbies or time with family, particularly if their burns are severe. The more proof you have, the more likely you are to be compensated for pain and suffering.
Contact a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Lawyer Today
Traffic accidents can seriously disrupt your life, and burn injuries can be particularly painful. At The Levin Firm, we help burn victims and their families get the compensation they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.