Fire And Burn Injury Attorneys in New York
Fire and burn injuries are often serious or fatal. At Parker Waichman LLP, our New York personal injury attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have about filing a personal injury lawsuit over burn injuries. Contact one of our attorneys today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation. We work on a contingency fee; this means you do not owe any attorneys’ fees unless we win your case.
A burn injury can have many causes, from a defective product to a serious car accident. Additionally, fire is the not the only substance that can cause burns. There are also chemical, radiation, and electrical burns. Open flame and smoking are the leading cause of burn injury in older adults, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Burn injuries in children are most often caused by scalding. Older adults and infants have the greatest risk of burn injury.
Types of Burns
The first thing that comes to mind with burn injuries is usually fire. These types of burns are thermal burns; a heat source raises the temperature of the skin. As the skin gets hotter, its cells and tissues die. The severity, or degree, of burn depends on how many layers of the skin are damaged. Fire, steam, hot metals and scalding liquids can all cause thermal burns.
Exposure to radiation can also cause burns. Examples include exposure to X-rays or the ultraviolet radiation of the sun, causing a sunburn.
Chemical burns can occur if your skin makes contact with certain harmful substances, including acids, alkalies, solvents, or detergent.
Electrical burns can occur from exposure to an alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).
First, Second, Third Degree Burns
What is the difference between a first, second, or third-degree burn? A first-degree burn usually describes a mild burn while a third-degree burn is very serious.
First-degree burns are the least severe; they are also known as “superficial” burns. The outermost layer, the epidermis, is damaged in a first-degree burn. The skin will be red, painful and dry. First-degree burns do not cause blisters. The most common example of a first-degree burn is a sunburn. You can also get a first-degree burn from touching a hot pot or oven.
In most cases, you do not need emergency medical treatment for a first-degree burn. Generally, these burns do not cause permanent damage. To treat a first-degree burn, place a cool, wet compress on the skin and a sterile, non-stick bandage. You can also use over-the-counter pain relievers and topical ointments for pain and faster healing.
When a burn gets past the epidermis and damages the dermis layer underneath, it is known as a second-degree burn, or “partial thickness” burn. Second-degree burns often cause the skin to look wet or moist. These burns can also cause blisters and severe pain. Scarring may result.
According to WebMD, many second-degree burns can be treated at home. However, the American Burn Association (ABA) says that partial thickness burns should be treated at a burn center if they cover more than 10 percent of your total body surface area.
To treat a second-degree burn at home, rinse the burned skin under cool water until the pain is gone. If the skin has blisters, do not pop them. Bandage the skin loosely with a nonstick dressing if the blisters have broken open. Follow the package instructions. When treating your burn, make sure your hands are clean.
The most serious types of burns are third-degree, or “full thickness” burns, where both the epidermis and dermis are destroyed. If the bones, muscles and tendons underneath are also burned, then it may be referred to as a fourth-degree burn. In a full thickness burn, the skin may appear dry, leathery, white, or charred. Third-degree burns destroy nerve endings. As such, the patient will feel numbness at the burn site.
The ABA says all third-degree burns should be treated at a burn center. The type of treatment will vary based on the age of the patient, how much skin is affected, and other factors. Third-degree burns may be treated with antibiotics, intravenous (IV) fluids, skin grafting, cleaning and debriding.
Referral to a New York Burn Center
According to the American Burn Association (ABA), the following burn injuries should be treated at a specialized burn unit:
- Partial-thickness burns covering 10 percent or more of the total body surface area (TBSA)
- All full-thickness burns
- Burns to the face, hands, feet, groin, genital area, or major joints
- Electrical burns such as being struck by lightening
- Chemical burns
- Inhalation injury
- Burns in patients with a pre-existing medical condition that may make recovery difficult
- Burns with trauma injuries (such as broken bones) where the burn injury is the most serious
- Children with burn injuries in hospitals that are not equipped to treat burns
- Burns in patients who require special care
There are four burn centers in New York City:
- Harlem Hospital
- Jacobi Medical Center
- NY Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center
- Staten Island University Hospital
Among these, the Weill Cornell Medicine William Randolph Hearst Burn Center is verified by the ABA and the American College of Surgeons (ACS). When a burn center is verified, it means that it has undergone “a rigorous review program designed to verify a burn center’s resources that are required for the provision of optimal care to burn patients from the time of injury through rehabilitation” according to the ABA website. The only other verified burn center in New York state is the University of Rochester, Kessler Burn Center.
Fire and Burn Injury Lawsuits
Various personal injury lawsuits may seek damages for fire and burn injuries. Examples include thermal burns from a serious car accident, or an electrical burn from a construction accident.
In other cases, a defective product may fuel the lawsuit. E-cigarettes, for example, have been the subject of lawsuits and safety concerns after users report that the device exploded unexpectedly. The problem lies with the lithium battery, experts say.
Other products have also been under criticism due to fire and burn risks. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was recalled in October 2016 because the phones caught fire. Fire hazards also prompted hoverboards, popular among children, to be recalled in July 2016. Tragically, hoverboard fire risks made headlines again in March 2017, after two young girls died in a hoverboard fire.
Filing a New York Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit involving an accident that occurred in New York, contact one of our New York accident attorneys today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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