Every year, over 450,000 Americans suffer serious burn injuries, according to the American Burn Association. Brown & Crouppen represents people who have suffered burn injuries due to another person or entity’s negligence.

If you are the victim of a burn injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to pursue compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other damages.

At Brown & Crouppen, our renowned personal injury attorneys have been recognized by National Trial Lawyers for honors such as “Top 100 Personal Injury Lawyers” and “Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Lawyers.” 

Our firm consistently receives these prestigious accolades because of the results we achieve for our clients during some of the most difficult periods of their lives.

Burn Categories

A burn is tissue damage caused by direct or indirect contact with heat, electric current, a chemical agent, or radiation. Burn injuries can range from minor to severe, requiring at-home treatment or hospitalization.

As stated in Healthline, burns are categorized as follows:

  • First-degree 
    • Superficial 
    • Dry red skin without blisters
    • Healing time of seven to 10 days
  • Second-degree 
    • Superficial partial thickness
      • Red with wet blisters and severe pain
      • A three-week healing period
    • Deep partial thickness 
      • Appears yellow or white
      • Dry 
      • Minimal pain
      • A three- to eight-week healing period
  • Third-degree 
    • Full thickness, involving the skin and subcutaneous structures
    • Leathery, dry skin
    • Minimal to no pain
    • Heals by contractures and requires skin grafting
    • Healing time is greater than eight weeks
  • Fourth-degree: charred skin with possible exposed bone
  • Fifth-degree: charred white skin with exposed bone
  • Sixth-degree: loss of skin with exposed bone

Small burns that are third-degree or higher can still result in serious complications, as can widespread first-degree burns.

Types of Burns

Burns can occur through a variety of mechanisms, which are significant determinants of treatment protocols.

Thermal Burns

A thermal burn occurs after contact with a heat source, such as:

  • Hot metals
  • Scalding liquids 
  • Steam
  • Fire

Chemical Burns

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chemical burns occur when substances such as battery acid, cleaning supplies, and industrial products come into contact with the skin. Chemical burns can impact the skin, airways, and eyes. Children are at risk if they come into contact with household cleaners.

The long-term effects of chemical burns can be serious and include:

  • Cancer of the skin, stomach, or esophagus
  • Narrowing of the esophagus, sometimes due to scarring
  • Perforations in the stomach, esophagus, or corneas of the eyes
  • Scarring
  • Vision impairment

Inhalation Burns

Inhalation burns occur when smoke or chemicals are inhaled and internal structures such as the lungs and esophagus are impacted. Inhalation burns can lead to an inflammatory response that constricts breathing, increases fluid retention in the lungs, damages lung structures, and increases the risk of bacterial infections, such as pneumonia.

These burns often occur when smoke is inhaled during a fire and when patients experience burns to the face.

Electrical Burns

An electrical burn occurs when electricity comes into contact with the body. The Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health states that electrical burns are serious due to the secondary complications and injuries that often accompany them. For example, the electrical current can pass through the individual’s body, causing burn injuries in grounded areas of the body and impacting heart rhythm, according to Clinical Research in Cardiology.

How do burns most commonly occur?

Burn injuries can occur at home, at work, and during travel. Many of these injuries happen accidentally and are preventable. In many cases, however, the individual who is injured cannot prevent the injury because they are the victim of someone else’s negligence.

Automobile Accidents

Motor vehicles contain flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline and oil, and the friction between the asphalt and the metal of motor vehicles can create sparks and flames. Automobiles also contain several hot components. According to cars.com, the average engine temperature is between 195 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Additionally, multiple liquids run through the engine. Injured Care states that engine coolant can reach temperatures near boiling, and it is not unusual for accident victims to be sprayed with engine coolant or other hot liquids during a crash. In addition, the following mechanisms can cause severe burn injuries in a car accident.

  • Prolonged exposure to hot surfaces, such as from the engine or exhaust system.
  • Gasoline igniting.
  • Hot debris hitting you.
  • The airbag causing chemical burns.
  • Live electrical wires becoming exposed and electrocuting you directly or causing a fire.

In cases of truck accidents, your odds of experiencing burn injuries increase dramatically, as these accidents tend to be more severe due to the larger size of commercial vehicles.

Motorcyclists face many of the same risks as passenger vehicle occupants, plus the following: 

  • Road rash: This is a friction burn, which occurs when the skin slides against asphalt.
  • Exhaust pipe burns: These are common in motorcycle accidents. If the motorcyclist is pinned by the motorcycle while awaiting assistance, contact could be prolonged, resulting in a deeper burn.

Workplace Accidents

According to the Cleveland Clinic, workers in the following occupations face the highest risks of chemical burn injuries:

  • Construction workers
  • Factory workers
  • Farmers
  • Lab techs
  • Mechanics
  • Military members
  • Plumbers

T&D World reports that electrical burns are especially common in construction, utility, and manufacturing industries due to the following:

  • Exposed electrical wires and components
  • Overhead power lines
  • Damaged insulation
  • Improper use of equipment and cords
  • Wet conditions where electrical equipment and wiring are used
  • Ungrounded power supplies

Hot Water

Hot water burns are a type of thermal burn known as scalding. Plumbing & Mechanical states tap water that is hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit can cause severe burns. Children, disabled individuals, and the elderly are at the highest risk due to their inability to move away from danger quickly.

House Fires

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) identifies the following among the top causes of house fires:

  • Appliances and equipment
  • Candles
  • Holiday decorations
  • Smoking
  • Lightning

Where to Seek Medical Treatment for Burns in St. Louis

Trauma centers and specialized burn centers are best equipped to treat burns. St. Louis is home to Mercy Burn Center, a Level I Trauma Center that is the only adult and pediatric burn center verified by the American Burn Association in Missouri.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis operates a Level I trauma center through Barnes-Jewish Hospital and its clinics, offering inpatient and outpatient burn services. U.S. News & World Report has rated Barnes-Jewish Hospital the number one hospital in St. Louis and Missouri and 11th in the nation.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital offers specialized acute burn care, occupational therapy, and physical therapy to pediatric patients, plus education and support to the family.

The Lifetime Impact of Serious Burn Injuries

According to Burns & Trauma, burn injuries can result in several long-term health complications and risks.

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Infections
  • A hypermetabolic state, resulting in muscle wasting and bone loss
  • Hypertrophic scarring (when the skin tissue does not stretch properly)
  • Mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD
  • Chronic persistent pain
  • Immune system suppression
  • Endocrine system disruption
  • Mortality

How much compensation can I recover for my burn injury case?

Every injury case is unique, and it is virtually impossible to estimate upfront how much a case may be worth. The types of damages that may merit compensation are:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Punitive damages in cases involving deliberate acts or blatant disregard for your safety

Workers’ Compensation

If you were injured at work, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation in Missouri provides medical treatment and up to 66.6 percent of your lost wages for the length of disability, whether temporary or permanent, according to the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.

Factors That Influence Compensation

Factors that influence the amount of compensation you can recover include the extent of your injuries, your medical costs, and who was at fault in the accident. If you were partly to blame for the accident, you may still be able to sue, but your compensation will be diminished proportionately to your fault under Missouri’s contributory fault law.

How is liability determined for burn injuries?

Liability in burn injury cases will be determined by which party’s negligence caused or contributed to the injuries. In many cases, this can be more than one party.

Automobile Accidents

  • The other driver
  • A vehicle owner
    • A trucking company
    • An employer
  • A parts manufacturer
  • A mechanic

Workplace Accidents

  • Workers’ compensation, which protects the employer from liability
  • A premises owner
  • A contractor
  • A manufacturer of defective equipment

Burns at Home

  • The landlord
  • A contractor
  • The manufacturer of a defective product

The most effective method of determining liability is to contact an experienced burn injury lawyer at Brown & Crouppen.

When should I contact an attorney?

You should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as is practical after your injury. The state of Missouri limits the amount of time you have to file a claim, which is known as statute of limitations. For a personal injury claim, the statute of limitations is five years from the date of the injury.

Contacting Brown & Crouppen as early as possible will ensure we have ample time to forensically investigate your accident and file your claim well ahead of the deadline.

How can a St. Louis burn injury attorney help me?

A personal injury attorney can worry about the legal details while you focus on your recovery. At Brown & Crouppen, we will ensure the insurance company does not take advantage of you while you are injured. Rest assured we will protect your interests and fight vigorously to recover maximized compensation, even if we have to litigate in court.

How much does it cost to hire a St. Louis burn injury law firm?

Working with us is risk free. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay if we win.

Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation Today

At Brown & Crouppen, we level the playing field for injury victims by providing the highest caliber representation available with no upfront costs for you. Time is short in personal injury cases, so you must retain legal representation as soon as you can. Contact us today to consult a burn injury lawyer for free.

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