Burn injuries can cause tremendous physical and psychological harms and losses which force the victim to cope with financial, vocational and social challenges. Burn specialists consider a third degree burn of over 10% of body surface or a burn of any degree over 20% of body surface to be critical.
Burns are incredibly painful because nerve endings are exposed and damaged when skin is burned away. Treatment for burn injuries can be excruciatingly painful. Immediate and urgent treatment for burn injuries include giving intravenous fluids to prevent shock and help the body compensate for the loss of fluids. As a result of these administration of fluids, the body can swell to two times its normal size. Smoke inhalation may require mechanical ventilation and if bad enough, tracheostomy.
Burn injuries may require daily debridement (scraping away of the dead skin), escharotomies (deep surgical incisions to release pressure on arteries and veins caused by swelling) and skin grafting. Skin grafting may include the need for tissue expansion surgery (the placement of silicone implants under healthy skin with a tube sticking out of the skin to inject fluid over time growing healthy skin). Once the skin graft is completed, the area from which the skin was grafted becomes, in essence, another second degree burn.
After surgical procedures, months or years of physical and occupational therapy may be necessary. Skin grafting may lead to the need to for custom made pressure garments to prevent thickening of burn scars. Splints may need to be placed on fingers, arms, legs and/or neck to prevent contracture (a condition of restricted movement due to thickened tissues).
Burn injuries cause tremendous psychological problems for the victim and the family. Initially, the victim may feel tremendous fear as to whether they will survive. Then, the treatments may be so painful as to cause the victim to develop an aversion to necessary helpful treatment. Adequate pain control must be established during these treatments to prevent the development of psychological behaviors that impede these necessary treatments. Even once pain is controlled victims may develop post traumatic stress disorder, a disabling and potentially chronic disorder causing them to relive the traumatic event and over and over. Burn injuries to the face or neck have, tragically, increased risk for suicide.
As your attorney, we can be instrumental in helping the victim receive psychological or psychiatric intervention. The family may be so overwhelmed with caring for the survivor’s physical demands that the emotional needs may be neglected.
If you or someone you love has been harmed as the result of carelessness of another, please consider Baratta, Russell & Baratta as your aggressive advocates and trusted advisors to guide you through this life changing injury.