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Causes of Burn Injuries
According to the National Burn Repository’s 2013 Annual Report, which contains data from 91 hospitals in 35 states, the three most common causes of burn injuries are:
- Flames or fire, which accounted for 42 percent of all burn cases. Roughly six percent of all reported accidents involving flames or fire were fatal.
- Scalding liquids, which were involved in 33 percent of all burn cases. Scalding injuries are most common among children five years old and younger.
- Contact with hot objects made up nearly nine percent of the reported injuries.
Burns can also be caused by electricity, chemicals and exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Types of Burns
Burns can range in severity from minor to fatal. Doctors categorize burns based on depth of injury and size.
- First-degree burns, while uncomfortable, are easy to treat and rarely require medical attention since they only involve the first layer of the skin. The most common first-degree burns are sunburns. A cold compress, over-the-counter pain medication, and time are often enough to heal the burn.
- Second-degree burns involve the first two layers of skin and often involve symptoms that include blisters, oozing and the loss of skin. Second-degree burns, especially if they cover a significant part of the body, require medical attention so that the victim doesn’t go into shock or suffer secondary infections.
- Third-degree burns, also known as full-thickness burns, permanently destroy both the skin and the surrounding tissues. Third-degree burns are extremely serious and a person who has suffered a third-degree burn needs immediate medical attention. Victims may need prolonged treatment in specialized burn centers. Full-thickness burns often require surgical treatment, such as skin grafting.
The size of a burn is measured as a percentage of total body surface area (TBSA). The TBSA assessment guides treatment decisions, including fluid resuscitation and whether to transfer treatment to a burn unit.
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Compensation in Burn Injury Cases
Burn injuries can be excruciatingly painful. Victims often suffer from psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress and depression. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, burn victims may be entitled to recover past and future medical expenses, lost wages and loss of future earning potential. Burns that occur on the job require careful assessment of workplace safety standards, workers compensation and the potential for third-party claims where responsibility may rest with someone other than the victim’s direct employer.