Burn injuries can have devastating effects, not only causing immediate harm but also leading to long-term complications and consequences. As a personal injury attorney, I have witnessed the profound physical, emotional, and financial impact that burn injuries can have on individuals and their families. These injuries often require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing care, which can result in substantial medical expenses and loss of income.
Moreover, the physical and emotional scars left by burn injuries can persist for a lifetime, affecting a person’s quality of life and well-being. If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury due to the negligence or misconduct of another party, it is essential to seek legal representation to ensure your rights are protected and to pursue the compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering, and long-term consequences.
How common are burn injuries?
Burn injuries are often underestimated in terms of their impact, yet they are associated with a significant number of long-term complications, illnesses and even deaths. These injuries can result from various sources such as heat, chemicals, electricity, radiation, and more, but the majority stem from exposure to hot substances or flames. In the United States alone, over 500,000 individuals seek medical treatment for burn injuries each year, leading to approximately 40,000 hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths. The financial burden is also substantial, with the annual cost of burn treatment estimated to exceed $1 billion, excluding the indirect costs associated with disability and rehabilitation.
The consequences of burn injuries can be devastating. To minimize complications, it is crucial to manage burns in specialized burn centers with immediate and comprehensive multidisciplinary involvement. These complications can manifest as either early (acute) or long-term (chronic) issues, and they may affect the local area of the burn injury or have systemic implications.
What are the complications caused by burn injuries?
Most severe burn injuries have the possibility of presenting the patient with complications other than the immediate injury. While you might expect the affected area (such as an arm or leg) to be damaged, there are other complications that can be life-threatening, affecting the entirety of the body.
Some of these complications include:
- Shock. Shock is a life-threatening condition that can occur after a serious injury, including severe burns. It is characterized by an inadequate supply of oxygen to the body. Signs of shock include a pale face, cold or clammy skin, rapid pulse, fast and shallow breathing, yawning, and unconsciousness. If you suspect someone is going into shock after a serious burn, it is crucial to call for an ambulance immediately.
While waiting for medical assistance, if possible, lay the person down and elevate their legs using a coat or blanket to keep them warm, avoiding covering their face or the burnt area. It is important not to provide them with food or drink.
- Heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are heat-related conditions that can be very serious. Symptoms include extreme tiredness, dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, rapid pulse, headache, muscle pain, irritability, and confusion. If someone experiences heat exhaustion, move them to a cool place, offer water, and loosen their clothing. If symptoms worsen or heat stroke is suspected, call for an ambulance.
- Infections. Infection is a concern when wounds, including burns or scalds, become contaminated by bacteria. Seek medical attention for any burn that causes a burst blister. Signs of infection include discomfort, pain, unpleasant odor, a high temperature of 100.4 or higher, and signs of cellulitis, such as redness and swelling of the skin. Contact your doctor if you suspect an infection. In rare cases, an infected burn can lead to blood poisoning (sepsis) or toxic shock syndrome, which are serious and require immediate treatment.
- Scarring and disfigurement. Scarring is a common outcome after burns have healed, though most minor burns result in minimal scarring. To reduce the risk of scarring, it is recommended to apply emollient creams daily until the burn is no longer dry or itchy, and to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) when outdoors to protect the healing area from the sun.
- Psychological damage. Burn injuries, especially severe ones, can have a long-lasting psychological impact, leading to feelings of anxiety, stress, low mood, depression, and a lack of confidence and self-esteem. Some individuals may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts. It is important to discuss these emotional issues with the burns care service, as they can arrange appointments with psychologists experienced in treating individuals recovering from burns and scalds.
While burns may often be an ordinary injury sustained when accidentally touching something hot, severe burns are also often sustained often through car accidents, defective products, and construction or industrial site accidents. Burns can ultimately prove deadly if not treated properly and immediately.
How can a Vancouver, WA burn accident attorney help me?
At Philbrook Law Office, our team of dedicated burn injury lawyers in Vancouver, WA works closely with renowned burn injury doctors and plastic surgeons with the expertise to comprehensively document the severity and life-altering nature of your burn injuries. Whether you have suffered burns personally or have lost a loved one due to such injuries, we are here to advocate for your rights. With 20 years of experience, we have successfully represented numerous clients, helping them secure strong results through wrongful death claims and personal injury claims against all responsible parties.
To begin the process of seeking justice and compensation, we invite you to schedule a free consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA. You can reach out to us by calling our number, or by filling out our contact form. We extend our legal services to the greater Portland area and throughout Oregon State as well. Please be aware that we handle burn injury cases on a contingency fee basis, ensuring that you pay no fees unless we secure a favorable outcome for you.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.