Burn Injury Lawyer in Austin
Nearly half a million people seek medical treatment for burn injuries every year, and according to the National Fire Protection Association, Texas, along with other southern states, has a rate of fire injury and death much higher than other regions of the country.
Burns vary greatly in severity – from minor injuries that heal in a few days, to major injuries that cause other health problems and require long-term rehabilitation. And while many burns are the result of accidents, those accidents are often the result of carelessness or negligence.
If you have suffered a burn injury and believe someone else is to blame, you may be entitled to compensation. The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm excels at helping personal injury victims achieve favorable outcomes and insurance settlements that offer relief during a challenging time.
Fire isn’t the only cause of burn injuries, but it’s the most common cause of serious burns that require specialized treatment. According to the American Burn Association, fire accounts for 46 percent of patient admissions to specialty burn centers, with scalding accounting for 34 percent of admissions. And 73 percent of patients suffered their injuries at home.
Household fires may occur due to malfunctioning electrical systems, either within the home’s walls or within household lighting equipment. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 47,700 such fires occurred in 2011, with the majority involving a home’s wiring. Electrical fires may be more likely in homes with old wiring and circuitry not designed to accommodate a number of electrical devices.
An improperly extinguished cigarette can also cause a fire, like the one in November 2015 that forced about 30 apartment residents in Austin from their homes. Cooking equipment, however, remains the top cause of fires at home. An unattended stovetop can result in a rapidly spreading fire.
Burn Risk Factors
Children and elderly adults have a higher risk for burns than other populations, and they also are at increased risk of injuries caused by scalding-hot water or liquids. In children, that risk is often associated with curiosity – they may reach for a pot on a stovetop, or pull on a tablecloth, causing a hot substance to tip over onto them.
When children and elderly people are dependent on others for their daily care, a negligent or inattentive caregiver is a serious threat to their safety. Several incidents in recent history highlight this danger:
- Officials shut down a daycare in Colorado after a 14-month-old boy suffered severe burns while at the facility – a crockpot of scalding water had been left within reach, and he grabbed the electrical cord and pulled it over onto himself.
- A worker at an assisted living facility in Pennsylvania faced homicide charges for spoon-feeding an elderly resident cereal so hot that it severely burned the inside of his mouth. After a three-day hospitalization, the resident stopped eating and subsequently died.
- A babysitter in Massachusetts left two toddlers in a bathtub unattended, and they suffered severe burns when one of them turned on the hot water tap.
Families assume caregivers will keep their loved ones safe. When the opposite happens, family members may feel betrayed. The justice system does, in some instances, provide a means of holding negligent caregivers accountable – both through criminal charges and in civil cases that result in the award of monetary damages to the injured parties and their families. If a caregiver caused a serious burn injury to your loved one, we may be able to help you. Call us today at 1-855-414-1012.
Burns can be complex injuries that cause other health problems, such as infections, including the life threatening blood infection known as sepsis. Damage to blood vessels may interfere with the heart’s ability to move blood through the body, and burn injuries may cause a shortening or tightening of skin, muscles, and tendons, which can dislocate joints and lead to disability.
The University of New Mexico Burn Center classifies burn severity by degrees:
- First degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. These burns are usually dry, red and painful, but they typically heal in three to five days. Occasionally, hospitalization may be necessary if the burn victim is in severe pain or has a fluid imbalance.
- Second degree burns may be classified as partial thickness – affecting the epidermis and parts of the underlying layer of skin called the dermis – or full thickness, which more deeply penetrates the dermis. Full-thickness burns may require surgery and skin grafts. Partial-thickness burns may heal in roughly 10 days to three weeks and cause some scarring.
- Third degree burns penetrate and destroy all layers of the skin, turning skin black or white. While these burns are much more severe than burns of a lesser degree, they are often painless, due to the destruction of nerve endings.
- Fourth degree burns are often not recognized as a separate category of burns, and a health practitioner may instead describe them as the most severe form of third degree burns. These injuries penetrate muscle and bone.
When burns are severe, a patient may require treatment at a specialty burn center, such as the Burn & Reconstructive Center of Texas at The Medical Center of Plano. The center’s operating rooms and intensive care units have special climate controls to regulate temperature and humidity, because burn patients often have difficulty maintaining body temperature.
According to the American Burn Association, patients treated at specialty burn centers have a 96 percent survival rate. But their quality of life may be diminished. Especially when a person must undergo multiple surgeries to repair burn damage, or is left permanently scarred or disfigured, the mental anguish a burn victim experiences can be extreme.
Burn Injury Lawyers: Protecting Your Rights
In order to achieve the best possible outcome for a burn injury victim, an attorney must understand the complex nature of these injuries, and the potential costs of long-term care and rehabilitation. The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm has the right kind of experience to protect the rights of burn injury victims and pursue settlements that help families move on with their lives.
If you need help, we want to hear from you. Call us at 1-855-414-1012, or fill out our online contact form today.