In the United States in 2009, thousands of people are killed every year due some type of fire related incident and significantly more people sustain burn related injuries. Many burn injuries and deaths in Houston, Texas are due to the carelessness or recklessness of others. Among some of the more common causes of burn injuries are: faulty wiring or plumbing, auto accidents, defective automobiles, unsafe workplaces, poorly maintained smoke alarms or residence lacking the devices, and defective products.
According to the American Burn Association, burn victims make up over 700,000 trips to the hospital emergency rooms each year and of those visits over 45,000 of those individuals require hospitalization. In many instances in Houston, the harm caused by these serious injuries could have been prevented –maintaining proper fire safety equipment like smoke alarms and working sprinkler system or by a manufacturer recalling an unsafe product.
Tragically, the individuals most at risk for fatal burn injuries are children younger than five and the elderly. This is because these individuals are typically unable to escape fires and their bodies are less able to deal the difficulties caused by a burn injury.
Whether the burn injuries are the result of an explosion, electricity, acid or fire, you or your loved one will need experienced legal representation. At Sutliff & Stout, our Houston injury lawyers have the experience and resources to help you and your family in this difficult time.
Burn Injury Information
Burns are generally described as a first, second or third degree burn—one being the least severe and third being the most severe. The type of treatment you may need will largely depend on the severity and size of the burn.
First Degree Burns
A first-degree burns is usually red and sensitive to the touch. A person who has suffered a first-degree burn typically has minimal tissue damage and only the first layer of skin is affected by the burn. A common type of first-degree burn is a sunburn.
Second Degree Burns
Second-degree burns affect both the top layer of skin (medically referred to as the epidermis) and the underlying layer of skin (medically referred to as the dermis). A person with second-degree burns will usually have redness, pain, swelling and blisters around the affected area. Second-degree burns can often affect a person’s sweat glands and hair follicles. Second degree burns are serious and you should consult a doctor if you have suffered this type of injury because left untreated such injury could worsen into a third-degree burn. If a deep second-degree burn is not properly treated, swelling and decreased blood flow in the tissue can result in the burn becoming a third-degree burn.
Third Degree Burns
Third-degree burns are the most serious and they require immediate medical attention. These burns affect the all layers of skin–epidermis, dermis and hypodermis—and cause charring of skin or a translucent white color. Often times a person who has suffered a third-degree burn will complain of numbness and pain in the affected area. Healing from third-degree burns is very slow because the skin tissue and related structures were destroyed by the burn.
Fire injuries can also be related to inhalation injuries. When inhalation injuries are combined with external burns the chance of death can increase significantly. The 3 most common types of inhalation injuries are:
1.) Damage from Heat Inhalation: True lung burn happens when you directly breathe in a hot air/flame source, or have high pressure force the heat into your lungs. Often times, thermal injury is confined to the upper airways, because your throat (medically referred to as your trachea) shields your lungs from the heat.
2.) Damage from Systemic Toxins: Systemic Toxins affect our ability to absorb oxygen. If someone is found unconscious or acting confused in the surroundings of an enclosed fire, systemic toxins could be a possible cause. Toxin poisoning can cause permanent damage to organs including the brain. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can appear symptomless up until the point where the victim falls into a coma.
3.) Damage from Smoke Inhalation: Smoke intoxication is frequently hidden by more visible injuries such as burns as a result of fire. In a disaster situation can lead to not receiving the medical attention needed, due to the rescue teams taking care of the more apparent patients. Patients that appear apparently unharmed can collapse due to major smoke inhalation, 60% to 80% of fatalities resulting from burn injuries can be attributed to smoke inhalation.