Many Illinois residents may have experienced burns from heat, exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, chemicals or electricity. The American Burn Association reports that approximately 450,000 traumatic burn injuries receive medical treatment in U.S. hospitals annually. According to information provided by the Johns Hopkins Medical Health Library, the leading cause of these injuries for children is scalding, and for adults it is from smoking and open flame.
A Chicago personal injury attorney who is familiar with the effects of burn injuries is typically aware that victims frequently receive immediate treatment in emergency rooms. However, this medical attention is usually only the beginning of recovery.
The Mayo Clinic classifies burn damage according to the layer of skin affected. First-degree means the outer layer of skin is affected. The injury is superficial and rarely requires professional medical attention. Second-degree indicates that the second layer of skin is damaged. The wound usually appears red, blistered and swollen. There is a much more significant amount of pain, but it can still be treated as minor if it covers less than three inches of skin. A third-degree burn destroys the first two layers of the skin and reaches the third layer. The nerve endings in the skin are destroyed, leaving no sensation in the area. When the damage affects the bones, muscles or tendons, it is considered fourth-degree.
According to an article listed by the National Institutes of Health, the psychological trauma experienced by burn victims is significant. Approximately 30 percent of adult survivors sustain moderate to severe psychological difficulties. Nightmares or flashbacks are frequently experienced. When these symptoms persist after a period of a few weeks, the victim may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Emotional damage from a burn injury is often extensive. During convalescence, a victim may experience one or more of the following:
A Chicago personal injury attorney may express concern about the fact that guilt may also be a factor, especially if there was fatality in the accident.
Johns Hopkins recommends a tailored treatment plan that involves a multi-disciplinary team of medical professionals. Physical treatment may involve complex wound care, management of pain and physical and occupational therapy. Skin grafting and other cosmetic reconstruction techniques are often necessary. Psychological and emotional needs are addressed through education for the patient and family, as well as counseling for common emotional responses.
A Chicago personal injury attorney may be able to provide legal counsel for a burn victim who suffers due to another’s carelessness, negligence or other harmful behavior. Compensation may be available to aid in the high costs associated with recovery.