Thanks to recent improvements in federal safety regulations regarding the manufacture of vehicles, burn injuries in car accidents rarely occur except in serious collisions. However, when accident related burn injuries occur they can be devastating, resulting in significant financial expenses for victims along with substantial scaring for which there may be no means of restoration of those injuries. If you've sustained burns in an accident caused by another driver's negligence, it's important to understand how to protect your right to compensation.
Causes of Car Accident Burn Injuries
Burns from a car accident can be the result of a number of different factors. For example:
- Collisions that punctures the car's gas tank
- Fuel system leaks
- Contact with hot water or steam from a damaged radiator
- Design flaws in the vehicle
- Electrical burns potentially caused by contact with downed power lines
- Accident involving a semi-truck hauling hazardous material
- Lesser burns from airbag deployment
Types of Burns
Burn injuries are given ratings based on their severity, with first-degree burns being minor burns and fourth-degree burns being the most serious type of burn.
- First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of skin. They are easily treated with antiseptic ointments, topical analgesics, and clean bandages. Most first-degree burns caused by a car accident will heal fully in about seven to 10 days.
- Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and dermis. They can cause blisters and scarring. The majority of second-degree burns heal within two to three weeks, but can be quite painful. Narcotic pain medication may be used to keep the burn victim more comfortable during the healing process. Rarely require significant medical attention to avoid scarring.
- Third-degree burns damage the fatty layer of tissue beneath the dermis and can penetrate the body deep enough to cause permanent nerve damage. The affected skin may look black, white, or leathery. Doctors make no general prediction for how long a third-degree burn will take to heal, since skin grafts and cosmetic surgery are often required.
- Fourth-degree burns are a rare and very serious type of burn that involves charred muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Although these types of burns are most often fatal, however, some victims who survive report feeling no pain due to the extensive nerve damage.
Complications Involved in Burn Healing
Regardless of the severity of the burn, infection can seriously complicate the healing process. It's important to keep burns clean and covered to prevent introducing bacteria into the wound. Burns itch when they heal, but scratching increases the possibility of infection and scarring.
Burned skin of any type is very sensitive to sunlight, so it's vital that victims are vigilant about using sunscreen once the bandages are no longer covering the wound. A mild sunburn is a first-degree burn, while a serious sunburn is a second-degree burn that can damage nerve endings and increase your risk for skin cancer.
In regard to serious third-degree burns, hypothermia, breathing problems, and limited range of motion in the bones and joints are potential complications that could affect a victim's healing process.
Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries
Car accidents that involve burn injuries often result in large personal injury settlements so long as the parties at fault have the appropriate insurance coverage or assets available to pay a large sum for compensation. You may be eligible for several types of compensation:
- Medical costs related to your injury, including emergency care, specialist visits, surgical care, rehabilitation, and pain medication
- Any anticipated future medical care, such as, medications, surgical procedures or physical therapy
- Loss of wages during or after the recovery process
- Loss of future earning potential, if your injuries have left you unable to work or working in a lower paying occupation
- Pain and suffering, including the physical pain of your burn injuries as well as the emotional trauma and physical disfigurement related to the scarring and change in your appearance
To protect your right to compensation, it's important to work with a skilled personal injury attorney who can negotiate for the highest possible settlement. Your attorney can gather documentation regarding the severity of your injuries and locate expert witnesses to testify on your behalf as to the anticipated cost of any needed future care.
Inland Empire Law Group’s legal team is dedicated to helping California residents resolve their personal injury claims. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultations at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices. Your call to 909-481-0100 or 1-888-MY-IE-LAW will provide you with answers to your questions and you will speak with someone who truly cares about you and your recovery. Let us help you recover what you deserve.