People who suffer severe burn injuries in a car accident are likely to experience extreme pain. Depending on the severity of the burn, these victims may also need surgery and further medical care. Although car fires are rare, there are many ways you could get burned in a crash.
Learn more about burns from car accidents, including common causes and when you may have a claim for compensation.
At Schmidt Kramer, we have been helping accident victims for decades, including those injured in car crashes. Our firm has a history of proven results – we have recovered over $100 million for our clients.
Injured in a crash due to someone else’s negligence? Call our firm to learn if you have legal options. We have staff available to take your call 24/7, and your case review is completely free.
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How Do Car Accidents Cause Burn Injuries?
Burns from a collision can be severe and disfiguring for the victim. The most common causes of burn injuries from a car accident include:
- Vehicle fires – Severe burns may occur if a vehicle bursts into flames or explodes at impact.
- Inhalation burns –Victims may injure their lungs by breathing in chemicals after an airbag deploys. Inhalation burns can also result from breathing in heat, smoke or other toxic chemicals after a crash.
- Thermal burns – A crash could cause victims to come into direct contact with hot metal, steam or other scalding liquids.
- Electrical burns – Damaged vehicle wiring or downed utility wires could cause a victim to suffer electrical burns after a crash.
Regardless of how a victim gets burned, it is critical to seek medical treatment right away to help reduce the risk of infection and limit the amount of damage.
What Types of Burn Injuries May Happen in a Car Accident?
Burn injuries are assessed and classified by degree, but any type of burn injury could result from a car accident. The larger the degree, the more severe the injury.
The types of burn injuries include:
The damage is relatively minor and limited to the top layer of the victim’s skin. Often first-degree burns may heal on their own with minimal treatment or scarring.
When a victim sustains a second-degree burn, it means the second layer of skin was damaged. Victims with second-degree burns may have swelling in the affected area, along with severe pain, and blistering and peeling skin.
A third-degree burn damages all layers of a victim’s skin, causing it to look charred, black and leathery. This type of burn is often called an “all-thickness” burn for that reason. Since third-degree burns also damage blood vessels and nerves, however, the victim may not feel pain.
Fourth, Fifth and Sixth-Degree Burns
Fourth-degree and greater burns are the most severe. Not only are all layers of the victim’s skin damaged, but also the underlying fatty tissue, muscle and bone.
Severe burn injuries will need surgery, such as skin grafting, and other extensive medical care. Even with treatment, victims may suffer permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Victims with third and fourth-degree burns should seek immediate medical attention from a team of doctors that specialize in burn treatments. Doing so may reduce scarring, as well as the risks for other serious complications.
What Complications Do Burn Victims Face?
In addition to dealing with severe pain and a lot of medical care, victims may have to deal with permanent scarring and disfigurement. There may also be severe secondary medical complications, such as:
- Bacterial infection – A potentially life-threatening condition if it enters the bloodstream and leads to sepsis
- Hypervolemia – When a victim suffers low blood volume.
- Respiratory problems – A common complication after inhaling hot air, smoke or toxic chemicals.
- Hypothermia – This is very common after a burn that covers a large area of skin, as it interrupts the body’s natural ability to self-regulate body temperature.
- Ridged areas of skin due to an overgrowth of keloid scar tissue
- Bone and joint issues – Severe burns leave damaged and scarred tissue, which causes muscles and tendons to shorten and become tight. This can reduce mobility and cause other issues.
How Are Burn Injuries From Car Accidents Treated?
Time is critical with a severe burn injury. The most severe (third and fourth-degree burns) need to be cleaned and debrided (removal of dead, damaged skin from the burned area). Getting this done soon after the injury can help reduce the risk of infection. Once the burn area is cleaned and debrided, a surgeon can attach skin grafts to cover the wounds. This process helps victims to recover more quickly and it also further helps to prevent infection.
What Should You Do if You Get Burned in a Car Accident?
After a car accident that causes burn injuries, victims should seek emergency medical care. Delaying treatment could be life-threatening for the most serious burns. Since your medical treatment for these injuries is likely to be extensive, filing a claim to help recover compensation may also be beneficial. Therefore, we strongly recommend contacting a licensed attorney to discuss your legal options as soon as your injuries have stabilized.
Can I Seek Compensation for Burn Injuries From a Car Accident?
That depends. Pennsylvania follows a “choice no-fault system.” This means that when drivers purchase an auto insurance policy they can choose either full tort or limited tort coverage. This choice and the severity of your injury can determine what damages you may or may not be eligible to recover.
Additionally, Pennsylvania drivers also are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This coverage will help victims cover initial medical costs resulting from a car accident, regardless of who may be liable.
If eligible, victims could recover significant compensation for their damages, including:
- Transportation to the ER
- ER visit and all other related doctor costs
- Surgery needed, including skin grafts
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering damages
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost wages
- And more
Did You Suffer Burn Injuries in a Crash? Contact Our Law Firm for Help
At Schmidt Kramer, you can count on having a knowledgeable attorney manage your case. Not only do our attorneys fight for maximum compensation, but we are always prepared to go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
Learn more about your legal options when you speak with one of our experienced Harrisburg vehicle accident lawyers. We welcome your questions and the opportunity to represent you.
Proven Results. Millions Recovered. (717) 727-1403