Any burn injury, no matter how small, causes an incredible amount of acute and lasting pain and suffering, and requires immediate medical treatment to stave off permanent disfigurement and life-threatening medical complications. Whether caused by a car accident, a truck accident, a motorcycle accident, a construction accident, a premises liability accident, a fire safety violation, or any other type of accident occurring within the Bronx and New York City, our team of expert Bronx burn injury attorneys has the experience necessary to prove your case in court and obtain the compensation that is rightfully yours if you suffer a burn injury.
Our knowledge of the underlying medical concepts inherent in any burn injury lawsuit, together with our combined century of expertise vindicating Bronx burn injury accident victims in court, is what allows our team of Bronx burn injury lawyers to obtain compensation for over 95% of our clients who suffer burn injuries due to the negligence of others.
How do Most Burn Injuries Occur?
According to the American Burn Association, of all the burn injury accident victims who sought medical treatment in hospitals across the United States between 2005 and 2014, 43% of these burn injuries were caused by direct contact with fires/flames, 34% were caused by scalding injuries due to contact with hot liquids/water, 9% were caused by contact with hot surfaces, 4% were caused by electrocution, 3% were caused by contact with dangerous chemicals, and 7% were caused by other means. Of these burn injuries, 73% occurred within a residence, 8% occurred on the job, 5% occurred on the nation’s roads and highways, 5% occurred during a recreational/sporting activity, and 9% occurred under other circumstances.
This data tells us that residents of the Bronx and New York City are most likely to suffer burn injuries in their own homes. These accidents are often due to the negligence of a landlord, whether due to the landlord’s failure to comply with fire safety codes, building and construction codes or to otherwise make their property safe from risks of premises liability accidents that result in burn injuries. Our firm offers free consultations to any resident of the Bronx or New York City who has suffered a burn injury due to the negligence of a property owner, and will make sure that your burn accident case is properly prepared so that you have the best possible chance of being awarded maximum compensation in court.
Burn injuries also occur quite frequently in connection with construction accidents. On a construction site, there are special rules that are meant to protect workers from exposure to risks of burn injuries from risks such as contact with dangerous chemicals or electrocution. These rules, known as “Rule 23” of the New York Industrial Code and New York Labor Law Section 241(6), can also serve as a basis for liability when owners and general contractors on construction sites in the Bronx and New York City fail to provide the proper safety devices to provide adequate protection to workers from burn injury risks. For example, when using corrosive substances on a construction site, Rule 23-1.7(h) of the New York Industrial Code requires that workers be provided with suitable protective apparel to protect against the risk of burn injuries resulting from contact with a corrosive substance. If the owner or general contractor fails to ensure that proper protective equipment is provided, and a construction worker suffers a burn injury due to this failure, the owner and general contractor can be held liable for the burn injury that they have caused by this failure.
Types of Burn Injuries – “Degrees” of Burn Injuries Explained
The medical community has created a system through which the severity of a burn injury is evaluated based upon the damage done to various layers of tissue within the human body. This system separates burn injuries into four “degrees” of severity depending upon the damage done to certain structures within the body by the burn injury. It should be noted that, while most people believe that there are only three degrees of burn injuries, medical professionals have actually created four “degrees” of burn injuries through which burn injuries are evaluated and treate.
First-degree burn injuries refer to burns that affect only the “epidermis”, which is the outermost layer of the skin. A first-degree burn injury causes the burn site to be red, dry, and painful, though it usually will not blister. Scarring and other permanent damage to the skin and other tissues is very rare, and usually consists only of mild discoloration of the skin if it occurs at all.
Second-degree burn injuries involve the epidermis (as with first-degree burns), as well as the “dermis” layer of the skin, which sits just below the epidermis. Second-degree burns are also known as “partial thickness” burns because they cause damage down into, but not all the way through, the layers of skin below the surface. Within this category of burns, there are two variations: Superficial partial thickness burns, and deep partial thickness burns. A superficial partial thickness burn (i.e., a less-severe second-degree burn) causes redness and blistering at the burn injury site, generally takes only weeks to heal and will generally not result in permanent disfiguring scarring, though it may cause some hyperpigmentation (discoloration) at the burn site that may last for some time. A deep partial thickness burn will appear white at the burn site, will be extremely painful and will almost always leave a scar at the burn site.
Third-degree burn injuries, also known as “full thickness” burns, involve the total destruction of the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin, and sometimes damage the subcutaneous tissue (soft tissues and other structures below the skin) located below even the most inner layers of the skin. The burn site of a third-degree burn will appear white or charred in severe cases. Third-degree burns always leave scars, and quite often require surgical intervention, such as skin grafts or debridement procedures, due to the extreme destruction of the tissues at the burn site (which, if left untreated, can lead to tissue necrosis and infections which can be life threatening). Third-degree burns often involve damage to the nerves located within the skin (throughout the epidermal/dermal levels) and subcutaneous tissues, which result in numbness at the site of the burn and in other areas of the body to which the damaged nerve may be connected.
Fourth-degree burn injuries are “full thickness” burns just like third-degree burns, but also feature severe damage to the bones, muscles and tendons underlying the skin and subcutaneous tissue. These severe burns almost always require surgery to repair, including skin grafts and debridements; and may, in extremely serious cases, necessitate amputation of a limb affected by the burn. These burns can result in the loss of function of a limb, and always result in a complete loss of sensation in the burned area due to the total destruction of the nerve tissue in the area of the burn injury.
The seriousness of burns can also be determined by the percentage of the total amount of skin on the body affected by a burn injury. According to the Mayo Clinic, any burn to an individual between 10 and 40 years of age that covers 25% or more of the surface of the body’s skin is considered a “serious” burn injury, regardless of the degree of the burn. Such burn injuries often require prolonged medical treatment to fend off infection and other serious complications that can result when such large burns occur. The American Burn Association has stated that every area equal to approximately the size of the palm of the average human hand is equal to 1% of the surface of the skin.
Medical Treatment for Burn Injuries
The first step in determining what medical treatment is needed to treat a serious burn injury is a physical examination by a doctor, which may occur in a hospital setting or in a doctor’s office, depending on the severity of the burn injury. If the burn is not terribly serious (such as is usually the case with a small first-degree burn), your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter products such as aloe and other creams to treat the burn. If the burn is of a more serious nature, your doctor may prescribe medication, physical or occupational therapy, or surgical procedures to treat the burn. Serious burns that leave a person with a significant disfigurement can also require psychological care to treat lasting emotional injuries, which can include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder
With respect to medication, the Mayo Clinic recommends, as appropriate, the following medication-based treatments for burn injuries: (i) water-based ultrasound mist therapy to clean and stimulate the burned tissue, (ii) intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and organ failure (common complications of severe burn injuries), (iii) pain and anxiety medications (especially useful when burn wound dressings have to be changed), (iv) special burn creams such as Sylvadine to keep the burned tissue moist and promote healing, (v) special wound dressings to prevent infection, (vi) intravenous antibiotics to prevent the spread of deadly infections such as Staph or M.R.S.A., and (vii) tetanus shots.
In the case of very large burns, or any serious burn injury that affects a joint, physical or occupational therapy may be necessary to regain function in the areas affected by the burns. Burn injuries that affect skin and tissue covering joints can result in a tightening of the skin around the joint that prevents the joints from flexing normally. Physical and occupational therapy can assist in stretching the skin so that joints remain flexible. Burn injuries at or near a joint, or which destroy bones, tendons or muscle tissue such as in a fourth-degree burn, can cause deterioration of muscle strength, and these therapies can help a burn accident victim regain the strength to perform their routing activities of daily living on an independent basis after a serious burn injury.
Serious burn injuries (usually including third-degree and fourth-degree burns) often require surgical intervention. If a burn affects your face or neck, the throat may swell shut due to the body’s healing response to the burn injury, requiring insertion of a breathing tube or performance of a tracheotomy to ensure that airflow to the lungs is properly maintained. Insertion of a feeding tube may also be required in the case of a severe burn injury, as the body’s healing response to the burn injury raises the metabolism and requires much more fuel and nutrients than a healthy body. Burn injuries can also cause pressure to build up within the body due to the formation of scar tissue, which often has to be cut to maintain blood flow and prevent complications such as gangrene and other forms of infection or necrosis that can lead to amputations, organ failure and death. Where burn injuries cause a loss of a considerable amount of viable tissue, skin grafts may be required to replace the dead skin tissue with new healthy tissue to promote healing. Finally, once burn injuries have healed, plastic/cosmetic surgery may be necessary to reconstruct damaged structures within the body or to attempt to minimize the effects (both cosmetic and physical) of scar tissue that forms during the burn injury healing process.
How Much is my Bronx Burn Injury Lawsuit Worth?
The value of any burn injury lawsuit in New York City and the Bronx depends on several factors, including, but not limited to: (i) The amount of pain and suffering associated with the burn injury itself, as well as necessary medical treatment, (ii) the costs associated with necessary medical treatment and therapy, (iii) whether the burn injury has caused the victim to be unable to work in the same capacity as they could before the accident, and (iv) the level of permanent disfigurement and other physical disabilities, as well as emotional damage, caused by the accident. There is simply no easy formula for placing a dollar value on serious burn injury accidents. However, it is no secret that burns are extraordinarily painful, and often require surgery and years of painful therapy that leave a victim with a significant disfigurement or disability. For this reason, Bronx juries are often quite sympathetic to victims of burn injury accidents and can award large amounts of compensation in the right case. Our team of Bronx burn injury lawyers will discuss the merits of your case free of charge, and will explain how we can help you maximize your compensation in court if you are the victim of a serious burn injury in New York City.