When Are Burn Injuries Considered Catastrophic?

Burn injuries are among some of the most serious and painful injuries that a person can possibly sustain. Some burn injuries are not as severe as others and may be treated with topical ointments that ease the burning sensation and help with the healing process. However, some burns are so severe that they are ultimately considered catastrophic because of the pain and the disfigurement that they cause.

Burns, in general, are categorized into degrees.

  • First degree burns are the least serious and may not require any medical treatments that couldn’t be found in a first aid kit.
  • Second degree burns are more serious. They often cause blisters, and medical intervention may be necessary.
  • Third degree burns are catastrophic. They permeate into the muscle and tissue, and often require skin grafts.

Recognizing the signs of a third degree burn

The “weird” thing about catastrophic burns is that sometimes, they don’t hurt. So you may not realize that the burn you have sustained is as dangerous, or as damaging, as it is.

When the skin is severely burned, your body may be unable to properly heal itself on its own. The are no longer protected by that outer layer of skin, which opens your body up to infection. The nerves in that particular section of your body may no longer function properly, which is why you might not feel any pain. Other consequences of a catastrophic burn include the following:

Severe scarring

Some burn injuries will lead to severe scarring. These scars may cover a large portion of the body. If you have scars on noticeable areas of your body, including your arms, hands, face, and legs, you might feel self-conscious about your appearance, leading to depression or anxiety about being in public.

Joint contracture

When the body attempts to heal from a burn, the skin around the burned area will tighten. This is called contracture, and it can lead to chronic pain, especially in the joints. It can also lead to restricted movement – a life-threatening complication if the burns occurred on the chest, because it can affect the lungs.


Truly catastrophic burns can literally melt a person’s pores. Excessive scarring can close those pores off too. This leaves a person unable to effectively regulate his or her temperature. Things as simple as playing a friendly game of softball in a summer league or having a snowball fight with the kids could put a person at risk.

Burn injuries can be painful and lead to life-altering consequences. Some burn injuries are so severe that they are considered catastrophic, especially when the skin is damaged, the body is scarred, and disfigurement occurs. If you have sustained severe burn injuries to your body, you need to speak to a personal injury attorney. Let the Little Rock burn injury lawyers of Bailey & Greer, PLLC assist you. Please call 501-213-1512 or fill our contact form to schedule a free consultation.