Burns and Disfigurement
Helping Burn Victims Get to a Better Place
The human epidermis is an amazingly strong component of the body. Skin cells constantly die and regenerate, maintaining a consistent level of strength and protection. It protects us from harmful substances and microorganisms, and protects body tissues against injury. It helps us regulate our body temperature through perspiration, and is loaded with nerve endings that allow us to feel cold, heat, or a breeze.
As strong and durable and versatile as the skin is, it’s important to remember that it isn’t invincible. Burns are perhaps the most destructive trauma that the skin can go through, and a burn that is severe enough can lead to permanent disfigurement or even amputation.
The New York City and Long Island injury lawyers at RGLZ Personal Injury Law have decades of experience supporting those who have suffered from severe burns due to no fault of their own. If you or a loved one has received burns that required grafts or other expensive surgical procedures, or have suffered from disfigurement as a result of a burn accident, we urge you to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Burns
Scalds – Anyone who has spent any time cooking or working in a kitchen has probably experienced this type of burn. Splashes from boiling water, hot cooking oil, or even the briefest exposure to steam can cause minor burns that are limited to the epidermis. Water based scalds are generally less harmful than oil-based scalds, which have a tendency to stick to the skin and cause deeper damage.
Contact Burns – Hot metal, plastic, glass, or hot coals can cause deep, multi-layer burns, depending on how long the skin remains in contact with the surface. Most contact burns that take place on the job happen on construction sites, repair shops, or anywhere where welding or similar heat-based operations take place.
Chemical Burns – Battery acids, oils, and gases can cause severe and dangerous chemical burns. Chemical burns are particularly dangerous because many chemicals can cause progressive damage past the dermis layer until they are inactivated or neutralized. Chemical burns generally take place during industrial accidents or accidents in laboratories.
Electrical Burns – The severity of an electrical burn depends on the strength of the shock and the duration of the victim’s exposure to the current. Electrical burns can happen anywhere there is electricity, from the home to the workplace to a public place.
Ultraviolet Burns – Anyone who has experienced bad sunburn knows that UV rays are no laughing matter. Similarly, severe UV burns can occur due to faulty tanning booths or negligence on the part of the operators of tanning salons.
Inhalation Injury – Burns on the skin are bad enough, but burns from inhaled gases or toxins can cause horrific responses in the lungs. Inhalation burns aren’t always readily apparent, either. In some cases it can take up to two days before the effects of internal damage begin to manifest themselves.
A Look at Burn Severity
First Degree Burns – A burn that is limited to the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin. The effects are comparatively minor, such as redness or moistening of the burned surface. Burns like minor kitchen scalds or sunburns fall into this category, and the burns usually heal within a week.
Second Degree Burns – Second degree burns vary in intensity, listed as either “superficial” or “deep.” Both superficial and deep second degree burns effectively destroy the epidermis layer and affect the dermis, or second layer of skin. A superficial second degree burn can permanently alter the skin color and pigmentation of the effective area, while deep second degree burns can sometimes require painful and expensive skin grafts.
Third Degree Burns – These burns destroy both the epidermis and dermis layer of skin, causing damage to the fat tissue underneath. As a result of the burn, the skin becomes leathery in texture. The color of the skin can appear to be bright red, tan, brown, or chalky white. Almost luckily for the burn victims, there is usually no pain involved in third degree burns due to the fact that the nerve endings of the affected area have been destroyed. These are severely disfiguring burns, and skin grafts are a requirement for treatment.
A burn that goes deeper than the subcutaneous area and damages muscle and bone is sometimes called a fourth degree burn. These are burns that are life threatening, and could cause either death or amputation.
The Costs of Burns
The costs of repairing physical damage of a deep second degree or third degree burn can vary from doctor to doctor, and there are several different procedures that can adequately reconstruct the damage. But the drawback of any of these treatments is that the affected area will never look completely the same. This might not seem important to some, but what if the victim was burned on the face? What if the burn and its repair caused severe disfigurement? What will the rest of that person’s life be like?
The emotional costs of burns are incalculable. Victims routinely suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and crippling self-image problems. Children who suffer from burns can also expect to deal with many years of peer ridicule and abuse. It is important to realize that it takes years for burn victims to truly recover, even after the physical pain has subsided.
We’ll Help You Get to a Better Place
The main obstacle in securing adequate compensation for victims of burns is usually the insurance companies that represent those liable for damages. A worker that gets burned on the job will almost always face an uphill battle in collecting the necessary funds from their workers compensation provider. Similarly, a victim who gets burned in a car accident or other event where someone else is liable can also expect to be offered a settlement that is nowhere near the medical and emotional costs that the burn will require.
Most people don’t know much about personal injury or liability law, and as a result they are unaware of what their rights are as an injured party. Insurance companies are counting on this, and often use this lack of knowledge to pay the smallest amount that they can.
RGLZ has a long history of securing fair and justified compensation for those who have been injured due to no fault of their own. We have extensive experience in dealing with insurance companies, and have proudly secured multi-million dollar verdicts for burn victims. If you or a loved one has suffered from injuries or a disfigurement due to burns, contact us. Let our decades of legal expertise get you to a better place.