What Are The Different Types Of Burns?


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Burns are tissue injuries caused by contact with radiation, flames, electricity, chemicals, or friction. They are classified by the severity of the injury into degrees from first to sixth, with first-degree being minor and sixth-degree being the most severe. Complications from burn injuries can be insignificant, like a mild sunburn, to fatal, like burns from electrocution or structural fires.

When burn injuries happen because a person or entity is negligent, victims may be able to sue for damages. However, doing so requires a legal team experienced in handling these types of cases.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Burns By Cause?

Burn injuries happen in numerous ways. Some of the causes of severe burns include:

Radiation Burn Injuries

Radiation burns can be caused by sunlight (a sunburn is a radiation burn), microwaves, radio waves, certain medical devices, and nuclear radiation. Burns caused by radiation can be mild, severe, or anything in between. Additionally, some types of radiation cause cancer as well as burns.

Thermal Burn Injuries

Thermal burns are the most common type of burn injury. They occur when the skin comes into contact with a hot surface, hot liquid, hot steam, or fire. Burns caused by fire are what people think of most, and it is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to burn injuries.

Electrical Burn Injuries

Electrical burns most commonly occur in the workplace. Anytime the body comes into contact with an electrical current of adequate strength, there is a risk of an electrical burn. If it is a high-voltage current, it can cause life-threatening injuries, including instant death. 

Chemical Burn Injuries

Chemical burn injuries happen when your skin comes into contact with corrosive chemicals. For example, burns from acid are chemical burns. Like electrical burn injuries, chemical burns often occur in the workplace. Detergents and solvents can result in chemical burns. The most severe chemical burn injuries typically occur when a chemical explosion occurs.

Friction Burn Injuries

It is called a friction burn when your skin scrapes or rubs against something hard, like cement or asphalt. For example, a motorcyclist who crashes and gets road rash is experiencing a friction burn injury.

Burns Classified By The Depth Of The Injury

Burn injuries are classified medically based on the depth the injury penetrates the body. A first-degree burn is one that only affects the outermost layer of skin. If your skin has ever turned pink from the sun, you’ve had a first-degree burn. Nearly everyone has had a first-degree burn at some point. It looks red, may be swollen, and may cause slight pain, but it doesn’t need care more extensive than first aid. Most first-degree burns heal within a few days to a week. 

Second-degree burns go a little deeper. They affect the first layer of skin, the epidermis, and part of the next layer, the dermis. These burns usually have blisters and are painful. They may need medical attention, especially to prevent infection, but may be minor enough to treat at home. Second-degree burns heal within a couple of weeks but may leave scars.

The next level of burn injury is a third-degree burn. The epidermis and dermis are destroyed with a third-degree burn, and the injury may go into the subcutaneous tissue layer. While these burns are severe, the victim may not experience pain because nerve damage occurs at this level. In addition, the burned skin will be dry and charred-looking. New skin cannot grow after third-degree burns, so skin grafts are often required.

Fourth-degree burns go through the skin, nerves, tendons, and muscles and may even reach the bone. They can be fatal, so immediate medical attention is absolutely necessary. Likewise, fifth-degree burns are life-threatening and require prompt medical intervention. At this level, amputation of the affected area is likely, and victims are more likely to die.

The most severe burn injuries are classified as sixth-degree burns. Most people who suffer from sixth-degree burns do not live. They may go into organ failure first but then ultimately succumb to their injuries and die.

Find Quality Burn Injury Lawyers in Pennsylvania

If you or a loved one sustained burn injuries, and it was due to someone’s negligence, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. The type of lawsuit will depend on how and where your injuries happened. If it was due to a defective product, like a propane tank that explodes, it might be a product liability case, where the manufacturer or seller is responsible. If your injuries occurred at someone else’s home or business, you might have a premises liability case. Determining what type of case you have and how to proceed is best left to a qualified burn injury attorney.

The outcome of your case and the compensation you receive are greatly impacted by the attorney you choose. Burn injury cases are complicated and require a legal team that is experienced and skilled at these types of claims. There is no better law firm in Pennsylvania to help you than Ross Feller Casey. We handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths, and we have the experience and resources to ensure you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

Contact our office today for information about your free consultation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.