According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), deaths from burn injuries or smoke inhalation in residential fires are the third leading cause of death in homes in the United States. California residents are injured or killed by chemicals, fires, or electrical devices every year. The injuries from burns are usually extremely painful and may cause serious physical, as well as emotional and psychological scarring. All too often, a fire related accident is a result of carelessness or negligence which may give rise to tort claims for bodily harm or wrongful death.
Flammable and explosive materials which cause scalding or death are not limited to residences either, commercial facilities also contain many objects and substances capable of ignition. Gas lines, electrical supply and components, hot pipes, heaters, and many other devices can cause flare-ups or conflagrations. There are many recent examples in California including the San Bruno gas pipeline blast that killed and maimed numerous people .
Common Causes of Burns to Skin
There are various types of components which cause first, second and even third degree burns to the skin including:
- Fire or Explosions
- Heat of any source which can cause incineration.
Fires in both residential and commercial structures are caused by a variety of factors including:
- Defective Products such as heaters, electrical appliances or gas grills
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Negligent maintenance of commercial and residential properties including apartments and condominiums
- Defective fire and gas detectors such as smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors.
Other types of burn injuries occur in and around industrial or workplace conditions. According to data presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 41,000 heat related burns occur every year, and there are nearly 16,000 chemical burns a year. In a report given by the National Burn Repository, the statistics report that there were 10,639 burn injuries reported at industrial sites, and 17% of the total injuries were work related.
Medical Levels of Burns and Complications That Can Result
Typically, burns are classified by the following categories:
- First Degree Burns: These are chemical, heat or friction burns to the first layer of skin. Oftentimes these burns can be treated without emergency medical help but, examination should always be sought from a competent physician as to any significant signs including red or raw portions of the epidermis.
- Second Degree Scalds: These go deeper into the second layer of skin. They are usually categorized in seriousness between superficial partial thickness layer scalds on the one hand or deeper skin layer damage. These not always but often require trauma care.
- Third Degree Burning: These are also known as “full thickness” burns and result in damage all the way through all epidermal layers. They are very serious and almost always require immediate emergency medical treatment.
- Fourth Degree: This is one step more severe and involved damage to the tendons or ligaments.
The seriousness of burns usually depends upon both the level as well as the extend of body area that has been affected. The area of the body is also crucial. For example, ingestion of chemicals causing damage to the esophagus may obstruct respiratory function and be life threatening. Sometimes cleaning, rinsing and bandaging the area affected is enough but, from the second level on down, these injuries can require serious medical intervention including skin grafts and long term burn care. The greatest risk of complication for serious scalding is that of infection. Major infections can set in and require long term hospitalization and are the main cause of death in burn patients.
Why is it important to consult and retain a personal injury lawyer promptly following a fire incident or other event resulting in a burn injury or wrongful death?
If you are injured as a result of a chemical, electrical, heat, fire or explosion, that was a result of careless or negligence, you need a legal representative that is familiar with these types of claims. Fire and explosion incidents usually require immediate investigation and often require analysis by arson investigators or other experts able to determine the cause of the blast or blaze in order to make a legal determination of whether one or more parties including homeowners, commercial property owners, product manufacturers or distributors or other persons or entities may be legally responsible for payment to the victim or their family.
If you or a loved one have been injured, maimed or killed as the result of this type of incident, call our attorneys toll free statewide in California for a free consultation: 866-252-0735