Second only to motor vehicle accidents, a burn injury is the next leading cause of accidental death in the United States and affect more than 2.5 million Americans annually. The American Burn Association reports that about 1.1 million of those burn injuries require medical attention. About 45,000 of those injuries require hospitalization, with half of those burn patients being admitted to a specialized burn unit. Unfortunately, approximately 4,500 of these people die every year. Pennsylvania lawyers who practice personal injury law regularly stand ready to help those who have suffered burn injuries get the compensation they deserve.
In the past, burns covering half or more of the body were usually fatal. Today, however, modern medicine can practically work miracles for burn patients. Medical advances in resuscitation practices, wound cleaning and follow-up care, nutritional support, and infection control have greatly increased burn injury survivability. Grafting with natural or artificial materials has also greatly improved the healing process. Those with burns covering 90 percent of the body can survive, although most will suffer permanent impairments requiring months if not years of follow-up care. Those patients should consider contacting one of the many Pennsylvania lawyers experienced in practicing personal injury law.
By far and away the most common causes of serious burn injuries sending victims to consult with Pennsylvania lawyers are scalding water and flammable fabrics. Burns are usually divided into four main types. Thermal burns occur after contact with flames, steam, hot liquids, or other sources of intense heat. Light burns are those caused by contact with sunlight or sources of ultraviolet light. Chemical burns come about due to contact with an acid or alkali. The final type, radiation burns, are caused by contact with nuclear radiation or ultraviolet light.
Burn injuries are divided into three categories of severity. First-degree burns are those where only the first layer of skin is burned and are characterized by reddened skin that heals in about a week. Second-degree burns occur when the first and second layers of skin are burned and are characterized by moist-looking skin and blisters. Third-degree burns involve all layers of the skin and the underlying tissue is damaged. These burns are characterized by a white or black dry wound and permanent scarring inevitably follows. Pennsylvania lawyers can help burn injury victims with severe burns receive compensation for the long-standing medical expenses they will incur.
Victims of burn injuries require much more extensive treatment than those with broken bones or lacerations. They often require multiple skin graft surgeries to repair damaged tissue and avoid significant scarring. Not only are these surgeries very painful, they also typically leave disfiguring scars that the patient must learn to cope with. For some, the level of scarring prevents them from returning to their former career, even after rehabilitation. They may need to consult with Pennsylvania lawyers to see what rights they have for seeking compensation to pay their medical expenses.
A burn injury is extremely expensive to treat. A burn covering 30 percent of the body can cost as much as $200,000 in initial hospitalization costs and physician fees. Even more extensive burns bring about other significant costs for reconstruction and rehabilitation. Those suffering from burn injuries may require not only skin graft surgery, but also psychiatric therapy or counseling to cope with the disfigurement. A Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in personal injury cases are experts in obtaining just compensation for those who have suffered burn injuries due to the negligence of others or because of product defects.