Experienced Memphis Burn Injury Lawyers Help Victims Recover
Compassionate attorneys serving the people of West Tennessee
Every injury is painful, but burns are one of the most painful injuries a person can endure. In severe burns especially, survivors can suffer permanent scars and disfigurement. Other scars may take years to heal before cosmetic surgery can be considered – not to mention weeks and months of hospitalization and painful physical therapy.
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we want to help. We understand the aftermath of these types of injuries—the pain, the medical bills, and inability to work. If you suffered a burn injury because of someone else's negligence, talk to our burn injury attorneys today. Our legal team fights tirelessly for clients in Memphis, Jackson, and throughout West Tennessee.
Categories of burns
Burn injuries are classified by depth, with three categories of injury:
- First-degree burn. First-degree burns typically affect the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. This type of burn can cause redness, pain, and swelling. If you've ever had a sunburn, you've probably had a first-degree burn. These burns usually resolve within a week.
- Second-degree burn. With a second-degree burn, the first layer of skin has been burned through to the second layer, the dermis. This causes severe pain, swelling, deep redness, and blistering.
- Third-degree burn. Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis, the dermis, and the third layer of skin, the subcutaneous. Skin with burns this severe could appear white, black, or leathery. Nerve endings may be destroyed, so the injury itself may not feel painful. However, the area around the injury may have extreme pain, causing racing pulse or respiratory problems.
Understand that all burns are serious, regardless of what category they fall into. However, if you have sustained second or third-degree burns, you should seek medical attention right away. Penetrating burn injuries can lead to a host of complications.
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Types and causes of burn injuries
Burn injuries have a variety of causes and, depending on the cause, are classified into types. The most common include:
- Thermal burns. A thermal burn occurs from contact with flames, hot liquids, hot objects, or steam. One example would be burning your arm on a hot stove. Most thermal burns occur in the home, but these types of burns are also common among construction workers and roofers, who often come into contact with substances like asphalt and tar.
- Scald burns. One of the most common burn injuries to children, scald burns are caused by hot liquids and steam. They can very quickly cause painful and serious burns.
- Chemical burns. Chemical burns happen when the skin comes into contact with strong acids or chemicals. Dangerous chemicals will burn their way through the skin layers until it's completely washed away. Chemical burns commonly happen in the workplace, but they can also happen with common household items, like bleach, plumbing products, or paint thinner.
- Electrical burns. An electrical burn occurs when a current jumps from an appliance or cord and passes through your body. This can cause burns and even internal damage. People can get electrical burns from things like sticking objects into electrical outlets or working with live electricity. Many children suffer low-voltage burns from touching wires or electrical outlets.
Aftermath of a burn injury
Every burn hurts, but a severe burn can lead to additional challenges. If it penetrates deeply enough, it can damage nerves, organs, and even bones. The pain can be chronic, and the scarring can be permanent. One of the most serious complications of a burn injury is contracture, which is the hardening of your tissues around the joints. This can lead to permanent mobility issues as well as respiratory problems, depending on where the burns are. Some burn injuries can cause damage to the circulatory and nervous systems, as well as send the victim into shock.
Many burn injury victims also deal with severe emotional trauma – especially if the burns are to visible parts of the body, such as the hands, neck, or face. This scarring can lead to depression or anxiety, especially if the victim has difficulties obtaining a job or wishes to avoid being seen in public. Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) is common for many burn victims.
Of course, everyone experiences and heals from injury differently. When someone suffers a burn injury, many factors can affect its severity—the location of the burn, the type and degree of the burn, the patient's medical history, and the age of the patient.
Inhalation injuries from fires
Fires are also related to smoke inhalation injuries. There are many known toxins in fire smoke, and if these toxins are inhaled, the risk of catastrophic injury or death may result.
There are several different types of inhalation injuries, including:
- Heat inhalation. If heat is forced or pushed into the lungs, or if someone directly breathes in flames or hot air, they can suffer what's called “lung burn.” Likewise, if hot air or flames enter the nose, the mucous membranes can also be damaged.
- Systemic toxins. Systemic toxins, like carbon monoxide, prohibit the body's ability to take in oxygen. Often, when someone inhales too much smoke, they're found disoriented or unconscious. Toxin poisoning can cause brain damage or death.
- Smoke inhalation. The most common cause of fire-related deaths is smoke inhalation. More than 3,000 people die from fires and smoke inhalation every year in the United States.
Signs of inhalation injury may not show up immediately. The signs may manifest as soon as two hours or up to 48 hours after the burn injury or fire has occurred. Signs someone may have suffered smoke, heat, or toxin inhalation may include:
- Evidence of fire or smoke present in a closed area
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- Soot around the mouth or nose
- Singed eyelashes, brows, or nasal hairs
- Burns around the face and neck
Types of burn scars
Burns that destroy several layers of skin will typically cause scarring, as the lower layers of skin are unable to heal themselves. Scar tissue comes in different forms and, despite the best efforts of surgeons, can still leave permanent damage and disability. These types of scars include:
- Keloid scars. Keloid scars occur when there's an overgrowth of scar tissue. They typically start off red or pink and become a tan color over time. As these scars form and grow, they become thick, ridged, and itchy. Large keloids may make it difficult to move the affected area and can be irritated by friction, like clothing or gloves.
- Hypertrophic scars. These scars are red, thick, and raised like keloid scars. However, unlike keloid scars, they don't develop beyond the site of the injury. Additionally, hypertrophic scars improve over time.
- Contracture scars. These types of scars are a tightening of the skin and can limit the muscles and tendons that allow movement. Contractures develop when the normal elastic connective tissues are replaced with tough, fibrous scar tissue. Because the tissue becomes resistant to stretching, it can prevent normal movement of the affected area.
Burn injury victims and their families have an uphill battle—pain and suffering, constantly growing medical costs, and the inability to continue earning a living. When you're injured in a fire and someone else is to blame, don't go it alone. Without skilled legal representation, you may not receive the full amount of compensation you're owed. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we have the experience and skill you need from a personal injury law firm.
Talk to our Memphis burn injury lawyers today
If you suffered burn injuries or smoke inhalation in a fire because of someone else's negligence, you need legal assistance. The Memphis injury attorneys at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, provide experienced and compassionate representation and work with you to seek maximum compensation for your injuries. Our goal is to provide you as much relief as possible, financially and physically. Get in touch with us today by calling 901-680-9777 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation. We proudly represent clients in Memphis, Jackson, and throughout West Tennessee.