When you’re in a serious car accident, there are many different types of injuries you may experience from broken bones to a traumatic brain injury to lacerations or muscle tears and sprains. Burn injuries aren’t something that often comes to mind, but they can happen even if you have a minor accident. Burn injuries can range from minor to very severe and sometimes life-threatening.
If hot liquid such as gas or oil comes in contact with your skin when you have an accident, you may suffer very serious burns. In rare cases, vehicles catch on fire after an accident, and anyone who is trapped inside or nearby may be burned. Any part of your body can be harmed by hot chemicals or fire at the scene of an accident, and your skin could be permanently damaged or disfigured.
The Role of the Skin
The skin is the largest organ of the body and has several important functions, including regulating body temperature, preventing dehydration and protecting the body from injury, germs or trauma. It allows your body to feel sensations such as cold, heat, pressure, pain and itching.
The skin has three layers, any of which can be damaged by burns. The outermost layer is the epidermis, which varies in thickness in different parts of your body and is continually renewed. The middle layer is the dermis which contains hair follicles, connective tissue, nerve fibers, and blood vessels. The deepest layer of skin is the subcutaneous layer which is mostly made of fat and serves to protect your body and regulate temperature.
Types of Burn Injuries
If your skin is burned in a car accident, you should be examined as soon as possible by a medical professional to determine the severity of the burn. Burns are categorized based on how deep they are and the size of the burned area. If you’ve been badly burned in an accident, your burn may be of different depths in different parts of your body.
Types of burn injuries include:
- First degree burns – damage the outer layer of the skin and cause redness and pain; can usually heal on their own
- Second-degree burns – damage both the epidermis and the dermis causing swelling, blisters, and pain. The skin may appear moist or have splotches of red and white
- Third-degree burns – these are very severe burns that reach the innermost layer of skin and may appear charred or blackened
- Fourth-degree burns – damage all the layers of the skin and may also damage muscle and bone
Treatment of Burn Injuries
Treatment of burn injuries depends on the severity of the burns. Medical staff may cover the burned area using sterile bandages and topical creams or ointments to help fight infection and prepare the wound to close. Minor burns can usually be treated at home and should heal within a week or two. Treatment of more serious burns may include IV fluids, pain medication and possibly surgery. You may be given fluids to prevent dehydration and medications to fight infection.
If you have severe burns that cover more than ten percent of your body or if you have burns that involve hands, feet, genitalia or major joints, your doctor may recommend that you be admitted to a burn center for specialized care. You may need skin grafts to cover large burn injuries and you may also need physical therapy for several months as part of your rehabilitation. You may also require treatment at a burn center if you have other medical problems that may complicate healing and recovery.
Complications of Burn Injuries
It’s important to get professional medical care immediately after an accident. Burn injuries that are severe can sometimes lead to complications such as:
- Bacterial infection throughout your body possibly leading to sepsis, a serious infection in your bloodstream
- Breathing problems or respiratory complications from smoke inhalation or damaged nasal passages
- Low body temperature
- Fluid loss and dehydration
- Permanent scars
Even with expert medical care, burns that cover a large part of your body are extremely dangerous. Victims sometimes go into shock and their injuries could be fatal.
Emotional Impact of Burn Injuries
Severe burns can change your appearance, possibly for the rest of your life. Even with skin grafts or plastic surgery, you may not go back to looking the way you did before the accident. Burn injuries can cause excruciating physical pain both immediately after a car accident and during the healing process.
The trauma that your accident has caused you can also have a serious emotional impact on your life. Feelings of psychological distress may happen immediately after an accident or they may develop weeks or months later. Some emotions you may experience include:
- Anxiety about the future
- Feeling afraid to ride in a vehicle or to be near the scene of the accident
- Depressed or hopeless about the extent of your injury
- Having nightmares or being unable to sleep
- Uncontrollable feelings of rage
- Loss of self-confidence or feeling self-conscious about your appearance
Providing Evidence of Fault
Whenever you’re in a Texas car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should try to gather as much evidence as you can that the other driver was the cause of the accident and your injuries. If you’re physically able to, at the scene of the accident, take pictures of the damage to both vehicles along with any skid marks. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact information.
As soon as you can after the accident, write down as much information as you can remember about how the accident happened, including road conditions and any other factors that might have contributed to the accident, such as the impact the weather might have had. Other evidence that may help you with your claim includes your medical records and the police report.
Determining Fair Compensation
Burn injuries can not only cause serious emotional repercussions but also can have a major financial impact on your life. You may be unable to work for several months and you may be facing a large number of medical bills for surgery, skin grafts and physical therapy.
If someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to be compensated for medical bills, lost wages and any other expenses related to your injury such as the cost of travel to a burn unit or to see specialists. If you have experienced disfigurement or lost the ability to earn a living, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering.
Getting Legal Advice After an Accident
When you’ve suffered serious injuries because of someone else’s negligence, it’s important to avoid accepting the first settlement amount that is offered to you. The more serious your injuries are, the more important it is to obtain legal advice from an expert in the field of personal injury law to be sure you can obtain fair compensation for your losses.
Patterson Law Group offers a free case evaluation at no cost to you unless we win. Fill out the form on our contact page in order to begin the process of having your questions answered and learn about your rights. A member of our legal team will be in touch very soon to set up your free case evaluation.