The intense heat generated from an explosion or gas fire can cause nearly instantaneous burns of all degrees. Burn injury specialists assess the level of damage, and corresponding treatment and rehabilitation needs, by considering the depth of the burn, the percentage of the body affected and the specific body parts affected.
The attorneys at Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP have extensive experience dealing with burn injuries suffered in construction, sports and recreation or motor vehicle accidents, as well as those caused by unsafe premises or products. In all cases, we seek to recover full and fair compensation for all damages and losses, including immediate and long-term medical care, plastic surgery, traumatic and surgical amputation, physical and psychological rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and economic losses.
Thermal burn injuries can be catastrophic and devastating. They are traditionally classified by their depth in degrees:
- First degree — The topmost layer of skin, the epidermis, is affected. While painful and red, the long-term effects are limited and rarely leave scars.
- Second degree (partial thickness burns) — These burns enter the second layer of skin, the dermis. These often blister and are very painful because they affect nerve endings in the dermis. While they can heal within two or three weeks without scarring, this is not always the case.
- Third degree (full thickness burns) — The epidermis and dermis are exceptionally compromised or completely destroyed. Skin grafting surgery is frequently required that can leave significant scarring, leading to the need for scar revision surgery.
- Fourth degree — This is not a technical term, but often is used to describe the deepest burns, wherein the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous fat are completely destroyed and the muscle and bone are affected. Skin grafting can be difficult due to the level of destroyed skin.
Recovery from serious burns can take weeks to months, as dead tissue has to be painfully removed or removed surgically, a process known as debridement. Resulting scar tissue is dramatically different from normal, healthy skin in its elasticity, sensation and appearance. During the healing process, infection is a significant potential complication that can dramatically affect the outcome and the patient's overall health.
Beyond the physical pain of burns is the cosmetic impact. The most common burn locations are in areas of exposed skin, i.e., the face and hands. Unfortunately, these areas cannot easily be hidden and remain visible as a permanent reminder of the incident that caused the burn.
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