Suffering a severe burn injury is a traumatizing event that can impact you mentally and physically. In addition to the immense pain, some burn victims also must deal with blistering, swelling, scarring, infections, and even the need for skin grafts. This is an injury that is so outwardly visible that many victims are forced to confront it in the mirror every morning—a painful reminder of the accident that changed their life.
As a South Carolina burn injury attorney, I have dedicated my professional life to protecting your rights and holding negligent parties accountable. When someone else makes a reckless decision and you are left to deal with the emotional and physical effects, I will work hard to ensure your voice is heard.
- Common Causes of Burn Injuries
- Types of Burn Injuries
- Burn Injury Classifications
- Compensation for Burn Injuries
- Who Can Be Held Responsible for Burn Injuries?
- How an Attorney Can Help Burn Victims
Common Causes of Burn Injuries in South Carolina
In my time working with victims of burn injuries in Columbia and throughout South Carolina, it has become clear that there are many different causes, reasons, and degrees of severity when it comes to burns. Burns can be caused by:
- Explosions of propane, natural gas, gasoline, or other flammable liquids and vapors
- House fires
- Auto accidents
- Hot liquids, such as water, oil, grease, or tar
- Hot metals, plastics, glass, or coals
- Chemicals like strong acids or alkalis
- Alpha, beta, or gamma radiation
These hazards can appear at home, at work, or even somewhere that you least expect. The bottom line, however, is that most burn injuries are preventable and are often caused because of another person's negligence. Even if it was a complete accident, it still may be that the financial burden of your burn injury not fall completely on your shoulders.
Types of Burn Injuries
From hot objects or flammable liquids to electrical shock and contact with chemicals, there are various hazards that we may come in contact with that could lead to a burn injury.
1. Thermal – caused by exposure to heat, flames, or hot objects. Possible occurrences of these burns include gas explosions, contact with hot metal, or prolonged exposure to hot liquids such as oil, tar or water.
2. Chemical – exposure to a harsh cleaner, solvent, or substance can cause people to suffer painful chemical burns. These types of burns are extremely dangerous, as the chemical may continue to damage the skin until deactivated.
3. Electrical – electrical burns happen when a person is exposed directly to an electrical source or experiences electrical shock from an object that is carrying electrical currents. For example, these may occur on construction sites when electrical wiring is exposed or incomplete.
4. Radiation – radiation burns are a result of prolonged exposure to radiation, nuclear power, or UV rays. These may affect medical workers who are constantly near radiation therapy, or power plant workers.
If you suffered a thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation burn, a South Carolina burn injury attorney can help hold the responsible person or business accountable for the harm you’ve experienced.
Burn Injury Classifications
The outcome of your burn injury case will likely be influenced by the severity of the burn you suffered. The medical field classifies burns under six broad categories - though fourth, fifth, and sixth degree burns are mentioned less often because of their infrequency.
Below we've included descriptions of each burn classification. If you are unsure what type of burn you have, don't be afraid to seek a medical professional's opinion.
- First Degree Burns
A first-degree burn is the least serious type of burn. It is known as a superficial burn, in which only the outer layer of skin has been affected. Your skin will usually be red and possibly swollen, and the burn itself may be slightly painful. It may look like a sunburn. In most cases, you can treat first degree burns on your own. However, if the burn is especially large or covers a portion of your face, hands, feet, buttocks, groin, or a major joint, you may want to visit your medical provider for an evaluation.
- Second Degree Burns
A second-degree burn is also known as a partial thickness burn, but with this classification, both the first and second layers of skin have been damaged. Second degree burns differ from first degree burns because blisters containing clear fluids could develop, the skin may become red and splotchy, and it will likely be very swollen and painful. However, like first degree burns, if it is not too large—three inches or less—you can probably treat it on your own at home. If your wound covers a larger portion of your body, consider heading to the emergency room for medical care.
- Third Degree Burns
Third degree burns are known as full thickness burns, involving all layers of the skin, and can cause permanent tissue damage. The burnt area could look charred black, or dry and white. This classification requires medical attention. Because muscle and bone can be affected, an immediate emergency response is needed to assess the damage and take urgent action. Improperly treated third degree burns can lead to a loss of limb or severe infection.
- Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Degree Burns
Fourth, fifth, and sixth degree burns are the most serious classification of burn injuries and require immediate medical attention. They are also full thickness burns, but they extend beyond the layers of skin and can damage underlying tissue, including fat (fourth degree), muscle (fifth degree), and bone (sixth degree). The affected skin may be charred black or white and hard to the touch, and because all nerve endings are destroyed, the injured person may not feel pain immediately.
Compensation for Burn Injuries
Burn victims are allowed compensation for “damages” in South Carolina. Some losses are obvious, such as past medical expenses and lost income. Likewise, some of the harms caused by a burn accident are undeniable. Take for instance scars or discoloration. However, South Carolina law requires that injured people also be allowed compensation for less obvious, though equally detrimental, losses.
Therefore, you may receive compensation for all future medical costs, decreased earning potential, mental anguish, and a number of other hardships, such as the pain of going through a painful skin graft operation or the possibility of permanent disfigurement. All of this should be taken into consideration when calculating the damages in your South Carolina burn injury case. Anything less than fair and full compensation violates South Carolina law and should not be accepted.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Burn Injury?
It can be difficult to determine who is at fault for causing your burn injury, as it often seems like merely an accident that led to your burn. However, many times, it is the negligence of an individual or a business that causes people to suffer burn injuries. Defective products, unsafe business practices, inadequate employee training, or improper use of chemicals are all ways that a business or individual may be responsible for your burn.
Oftentimes, more than one defendant is to blame for the fire, chemical leak, or overheated piece of equipment that causes a burn. For example, a hotel fire may be the result of flammable furniture, defective smoke detectors, and a lack of sprinklers. In such a case, the furniture manufacturer, smoke detector company, and hotel might all be liable for a guest’s burn injuries.
An attorney can be helpful in determining who is liable for your burn injury by gathering evidence and working with experts to determine the true cause of the incident that led to your injury.
How Can an Attorney Help Burn Victims?
It may seem obvious that when someone in our community suffers a serious burn injury, the people or business who caused harm should pay fair compensation. While this is a simple truth, these are not simple cases.
Accidents related to fires, chemical spills, and unsafe products can result in very complex legal issues. There may be questions over who is to blame, whether future medical treatment is actually required, and whether the victim in any way contributed to the accident. Therefore, it is often in a victim or surviving family’s best interest to consult with a burn injury attorney before talking with insurance companies, signing authorization forms, or discussing settlement figures to ensure all your damages are considered and your legal rights are protected.
Contact Our South Carolina Burn Injury Lawyers Today
If you are suffering from a burn injury in South Carolina, whether you live in Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, or any other part of our state, the Law Office of Kenneth Berger is here to help. As a South Carolina injury lawyer, I am committed to achieving the best possible outcome for your case, while also working to ensure that you are treated with the respect and compassion that you deserve.
Call the Law Office of Kenneth Berger at 803-790-2800 today for a free consultation or start a chat with us.
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- Who is Responsible for Burn Injuries Caused by Defective Products?
- Liability for Child Burn Injuries
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- Our Burn Injury Case Results
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