Burn Injury

Chicago Burn Injury Lawyers

Representing People Who Have Been Seriously Injured

A burn is one of the most severe injuries that a person can suffer. In the most serious cases, burns can physically debilitate someone, in addition to related emotional trauma. Even less serious burns can require extensive medical care to resolve, saddling victims and their families with extensive costs.

If you are dealing with the aftermath of an accident that caused burns to you or a loved one, you deserve justice for the pain you have suffered. You have options, and our attorneys at Hart David Carson can help you look into the legal tools available to you. The people who have caused your injuries must be held accountable for their actions.

Call (630) 931-0379 for assistance with your burn injury case.

Burn Injury Cases in Chicago

What is a Burn Injury?

A burn injury occurs when the skin or other tissues of the body are damaged due to exposure to heat, electricity, radiation, or chemicals. Burns can range from mild to severe, and they are typically classified into degrees based on the extent and depth of tissue damage. The three main degrees of burns are:

  1. First-degree burns: Superficial burns that only affect the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Symptoms include redness, pain, and minor swelling. Healing usually occurs without significant scarring within a week.
  2. Second-degree burns: These burns affect both the outer layer (epidermis) and part of the underlying layer of skin (dermis). Symptoms include redness, pain, swelling, and the appearance of blisters. Healing time varies, and scarring may occur, especially if the burn is deep.
  3. Third-degree burns: The most severe type of burn, involving damage to the entire thickness of the skin and often extending into underlying tissues, such as muscles and bones. Symptoms may include a charred or leathery appearance, along with numbness due to nerve damage. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention and often involve surgical treatment, such as skin grafting, as the skin's ability to regenerate is compromised.

In addition to these three degrees, there is also a term called "fourth-degree burn," which includes damage to deeper tissues like tendons and ligaments. However, not all classification systems include fourth-degree burns, and the severity of burns can vary based on factors such as the size of the burn, its location, and the age and overall health of the individual.

It's important to note that burns can also cause systemic symptoms, especially in the case of more severe burns. These may include:

  • Shock: Burn injuries, especially large or deep burns, can lead to shock. Signs of shock include weakness, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, and pale or clammy skin.
  • Respiratory Issues: Inhalation of hot air or smoke can damage the airways and lungs, leading to respiratory distress.
  • Infection: Burns compromise the skin's protective barrier, increasing the risk of infection. Symptoms of infection may include increased redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge from the burn site.
  • Fluid Loss: Severe burns can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Common Causes of Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can result from many different types of accidents. It is unfortunately not uncommon for careless actions to lead to fires or cause other types of burn injuries.

Vehicle accidents are often the subject of burn injury cases. A person who has been injured in a motor vehicle collision or motorcycle accident may have been harmed by a fire, explosion, overheated car parts, or contact with the road. Because car accidents often result in multiple injuries, burn injury victims in these cases are often dealing with other medical issues as well.

Defective products can cause burn injuries if they have been designed or manufactured in a way that does not adhere to safety regulations. Products must be manufactured in a way that is safe for consumer use, and items that involve electricity or a heating element are subject to extensive regulations that are meant to prevent burn injuries. Corporations that ignore these regulations must be held accountable for the injuries they have caused. A company may also be liable for your injuries if there were not sufficient warnings or instructions on how to use an item, leading to your injuries.

Work accidents are another common cause of burn injuries. People who work with heavy machinery, toxic chemicals, electricity, and radiation are especially at risk. If you have been injured on the job due to the fault of your employer or another party, you may have grounds to recover payment for your medical bills and other damages through a workers’ compensation claim.

Types of Burn Injuries

Thermal Burns

When people think of serious burns, the type that most often comes to mind is as a thermal burn. Thermal burns result from excessive heat, such as contact with a hot surface or open flame. Injuries resulting from scalding hot liquids and steam also apply.

Vehicle accidents, arson, product failures, and even being served overheated coffee can all lead to thermal burns, warranting personal injury damages.

Friction Burns

Friction burns are a little different from thermal burns in that the source of heat comes from friction between your skin and another surface. These may be mild rug burns, or serious road burns from motorcycle or bicycle accidents. Along with the heat, the opposing surface also tears at the skin, leaving an abrasion.

Electrical Burns

When someone comes into contact with electricity, it can result in extensive damage, particularly to the lower layers of the skin (as opposed to thermal burns, which usually affect the top layers). As such, they may not be immediately visible. In some cases, an electrical current may even cause severe organ damage. Electrical burns may result from contact with a live wire, appliance, or piece of machinery. 

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns involve strong acids, detergents, or solvents that come into contact with the skin. Certain cleaning products may cause chemical burns, as well as some beauty products. Industrial chemicals are another common source of these types of injuries.

A product liability claim may be in order if there is insufficient warning on the label of a potentially dangerous product. Workers injured from the use of hazardous chemicals on the job may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer.

Radiation Burns

Radiation burns are the result of high levels of radiation exposure. The most common example is a sunburn, but radiation burns may result from X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and radiation therapy.

While they’re not particularly likely, radiation burns can become severe — even life-threatening — if the levels of radiation become excessive for any reason. It takes days or even weeks for a radiation burn to show up, but if it does, it may be a sign of medical malpractice.

The Long-Term Effects of a Burn Injury

Severe burn injuries can have profound and lasting effects on both physical and mental health. The long-term consequences extend beyond the initial period of injury and can impact various aspects of a person's life.

Here are some key considerations for the long-term effects of severe burn injuries:

  • Physical Scarring and Disfigurement: Severe burns often result in noticeable scars and disfigurement, which can affect a person's body image and self-esteem. The location and extent of scarring can also impact mobility and function, especially if joints or vital structures are involved.
  • Restricted Mobility and Functionality: Burns affecting joints or underlying tissues may lead to limited mobility and functional impairment. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are often necessary to regain or improve range of motion and functionality.
  • Chronic Pain: Many burn survivors experience chronic pain, which can persist long after the initial injury has healed. Neuropathic pain, caused by nerve damage during the burn, can be particularly challenging to manage.
  • Psychological Impact: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common psychological consequence of severe burn injuries. Flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety may persist long after the event. Depression and anxiety can also result from the challenges of coping with the physical and emotional aftermath of the injury.
  • Social and Relationship Challenges: Changes in physical appearance and function may affect relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. Social stigma and misconceptions about burn injuries can contribute to feelings of isolation.
  • Work and Financial Implications: Depending on the nature of the burn injury, returning to work may be challenging, leading to financial stress. Requiring ongoing medical care and rehabilitation can also impact long-term financial stability.
  • Complications and Secondary Health Issues: Severe burns can lead to long-term complications such as infections, contractures, and difficulty regulating body temperature. Respiratory issues may arise if the burn involved inhalation of smoke or hot gases.
  • Quality of Life Considerations: The overall quality of life may be significantly affected by the cumulative impact of physical, emotional, and social challenges.

Support from healthcare professionals, mental health experts, and support groups can play a crucial role in helping burn survivors cope with the long-term effects of their injuries. A comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is often necessary to address the complex physical and emotional aspects of recovery.

Recovering Damages for Burn Injuries

Burn injuries are painful and costly to treat, with more severe injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and care. If the injury results from another party’s negligent or careless actions, it may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Damages may include pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income. Rare cases may warrant punitive damages as well, which serve strictly as a way to punish a negligent party and, hopefully, prevent them from acting carelessly in the future.

Recovering personal injury damages requires the representation of a competent attorney. If you have been severely burned in an accident, contact our burn injury attorneys in Chicago to evaluate your case.

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