The Lasting Damage of a Severe Burn Injury
Severe burn injuries can cause life-long damage. The immediate effects of a severe burn can include intense pain. The recovery from a severe burn can be lengthy and painful.
What Are the Immediate Consequences of a Severe Burn?
Burn injuries are classified into degrees. The level of the burn indicates the severity of the injury. A first-degree burn is the least severe burn. It only damages the outer layer of the skin.
Second-degree burns are a bit more damaging. They can injure the underlying layer of skin. However, second-degree burns usually heal without permanent damage.
Third-degree burns cause injury to the deep layers of skin. In some cases, third-degree burns can cause damage to the underlying tissues. Fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree burns reach into the muscle and bone.
Burns that are third-degree and higher are considered severe burns. These burns cause an inflammatory response in the body which can damage major organs or cause them to fail. The brain, lungs, kidneys, and heart are particularly vulnerable to damage and failure after a severe burn.
Another immediate problem with a severe burn is the risk of infection. The skin is a protective barrier for the body. When the skin is damaged, infections can develop at the burn site and move to the bloodstream. A person may develop sepsis, which can be deadly.
What Are the Treatments for Severe Burns?
The treatment for a severe burn depends on several factors, including the type of burn, location of the burn, and degree of the burn. The goal of treatment is to prevent infection, remove dead tissue, repair damage, regain function, and reduce scarring.
The treatments for severe burns may include:
- Fluids to prevent dehydration
- Sterile dressings to prevent infection
- Topical products
- Skin grafts
- Plastic or reconstructive surgery
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Breathing assistance
- Feeding tubes
In severe cases, a patient may be placed into a medically induced coma while doctors work to repair the damage caused by the burn. The patient may be kept in this state while the skin heals.
The healing process can take months and can be long and painful. The damaged areas must be cleaned and protected until they completely heal.
What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Severe Burns?
The long-term consequences of severe burns may include physical impairments, significant scarring, and psychological effects.
The long-term psychological effects of a severe burn may include:
- Clinical depression
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic anxiety
- Embarrassment and negative body image
- Low self-esteem
- Decrease in quality of life
- Sleep and eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Social isolation
A person may never fully recover from the emotional effects of a severe burn. The psychological and emotional damage from a severe burn injury can be debilitating. There are also several long-term physical effects of severe burns. The person may continue to have an increased risk of infection, contractures, or scar tissue.
The burn victim may experience itching, pain, and sensitivity to heat. There could be permanent nerve damage and weakness from muscle damage. Different types of burns can also cause specific long-term effects. For example, radiation burns can increase the risk of skin cancer. Electrical burns may cause heart arrhythmia.
Seeking Compensation for the Lasting Damage Caused by Severe Burns
If another party is responsible for the cause of your burns, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. Many different situations can result in severe burn injuries, including car crashes, unsafe premises, and defective products.
A burn victim may be entitled to the following damages in a personal injury claim:
- Past, current, and future cost of medical care and personal care
- Past, current, and future loss of income and benefits, including diminished earning capacity
- Permanent disfigurement, scarring, disabilities, and impairments
- Emotional, physical, and mental pain and suffering
- Inconvenience, embarrassment, depression, anxiety, and other psychological injuries
- Counseling and ongoing therapy to help cope with the long-term effects of severe burn injuries
You can hold the person who caused your accident and burns liable for these and other damages. You must prove causation or that the party’s actions caused your severe burn injuries. You must also prove that you sustained damages because of the burns.
Placing a value on many of the above damages can be challenging. A personal injury lawyer may seek assistance from medical experts, financial professionals, and other expert witnesses to determine the extent and value of your damages.
With the help of experts, your lawyer can calculate a fair and just value for your severe burn injury claim. Your attorney wants to ensure that you receive compensation for your past suffering and the suffering you may endure in the future because of a severe burn.