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Car Accidents and Burn Injuries

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

Of all the ways you can be injured in a car accident, burns are among the worst. Burning is one of the most painful ways you can be harmed. Treatment is long and difficult. Sometimes the treatments are more painful than the initial injury, as doctors may need to remove dead skin. After you recover, you can be scarred or even disfigured. In this article, we will look at how a vehicle accident can cause burns, the types of burns you can suffer, and how you can recover damages in court.

How Can You Be Burned in an Accident?

Vehicles are only machines, and they are made up of parts that heat up. Even as more manufacturers adopt electric models, there are still areas inside the car that get hot, and the car is designed to distribute that heat away from the driver. As a car is twisted out of shape in an accident, heated areas can be brought closer to the driver and passengers, causing burns.

Hot Metal

Depending on the severity of the wreck, heated metals can be brought toward your body. When you are near areas meant to be separated from you, you can suffer burns. Sometimes the impact itself can cause enough friction to heat certain parts of the car, and you can get burned making contact with those areas.

Steam

Standard cars have radiators, which house heated fluids. If a radiator bursts, steam could escape, burning both driver and passenger(s).

Wires

Anything could burst, rip, or be exposed in an accident. A car has many electrical wires which could split and become uncovered, burning you on contact.

Items Within the Car

Most of us travel while carrying something in the vehicle. We have hot coffee in our cupholder and cleaning chemicals from the grocery store. As the car is jostled in a crash, internal items can be thrown, dousing people with hot liquids or caustic chemicals. If an accident caused a burn, even from these items, you could include these injuries in the lawsuit.

Perhaps the other vehicle was a commercial truck hauling toxic materials. They could spill or seep out, causing burns, as well.

Gasoline

Modern cars are designed with full awareness of how combustible gasoline is. Engineers take many precautions to protect people from exploding gas tanks. It is far more unlikely these days for a car to catch fire from a gas leak. However, the reality is that gas is explosive, and it is sitting inside your car. Nothing is certain, and a severe wreck could expose gasoline, and the slightest spark can set it off. If your car runs on gas, there is always a chance you could be burned by it.

Degrees of Burn Injuries

Burns are medically classified in “degrees.” The higher the degree, the more severe the burn.

First degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin. They are painful, and treatment is necessary. However, they are not life-threatening. They can heal well with care, and they may not even scar.

Second degree burns go deeper. They spread into the second layer of skin. Any burn that touches this layer is considered a second-degree burn, but second-degree burns can be mild or severe. As the burn goes deeper into the layer, it can cause scarring or be close to a third-degree burn.

Third-degree burns destroy skin as two full layers are ravaged. These burns are quite serious. When that deep into your tissue, the burn becomes white, yellow, brown, or even black. These burns require serious treatment and possibly surgery.

Fourth-degree burns destroy skin completely. They can go past the skin, burning down into inner layers, affecting bones, muscles, tendons, and even organs. They can be life threatening, and they require urgent care.

One of the scariest aspects of a burn injury is that it can radiate out from its original spot. Heat spreads to surrounding areas. Something that begins as a first-degree burn can push deeper into the next layer, becoming a second-degree burn. The same is true for the other two degrees. This is why doctors recommend you immediately put cold water on a burn. It can cool down the affected area, keeping the trapped heat from moving down further.

Types of Burn Injuries

Friction Burns

When you rub against a surface hard and fast, you may develop a friction burn. Injuries like rug burns are abrasions, but heat is also causing the injury. Typically, friction burns are not serious, but any burn can be dangerous and severe.

Thermal Burns

These burns occur when you have made direct contact with a heated object. Burning your tongue on hot coffee is a thermal burn. Again, a wreck can bend your vehicle out of shape, bringing heated parts closer to you. If you make contact with them, you will suffer a thermal burn.

Radiation Burns

Radiation burns are like thermal burns, but they do not require direct contact. Heat doesn’t stay locked into position; it spreads outward. Anyone who has come too close to a campfire has felt radiated heat. You might not touch a heated object in a car wreck, but you could be trapped next to one. Prolonged exposure like that could lead to a radiation burn.

Electrical Burns

As previously mentioned, car wrecks can leave electrical components exposed. If you make contact with the wrong wires, you could suffer an electrical burn.

Liability in a Burn Injury

When a driver is breaking traffic laws, they are being negligent. They could be speeding, ignoring signs and signals, turning without a signal, going before their turn, etc. When a driver breaks traffic laws and causes a burn injury, it may be possible to sue them for a strict liability. Strict liability only requires that you prove the driver was breaking the law at the time of the incident.

A negligent driver might be obeying the law, but they are simply driving poorly. By not paying attention, breaking too quickly, etc., a driver could be held liable for another’s injuries. The type of injury does not matter. Whether you were burned, cut, scraped, or you broke a bone, you can sue the other driver for their behavior. If you win your case, you could be compensated for your medical bills, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

If you’ve suffered a burn injury from a vehicle accident, reach out to us today. We have years of experience recovering damages for our clients. Our number is (918) 347-6456, and you can contact us online.

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