An estimated 450,000 burn victims are treated in the U.S. each year and about 3,500 die from their injuries. Some burns can be attended to in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms or outpatient clinics. But extensive burns often require admission to a hospital or burn treatment center. The Columbia burn injury lawyers of the Louthian Law Firm assist victims or their survivors when the burn was caused by the negligence of another person, property owner, employer, or manufacturer. Contact us at (803) 454-1200 to find out how we can assist your family as you recover from a painful, debilitating burn.

Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about burn injuries.

Are there different types of burns?

Yes. Although we usually connect burn injuries with fire or flame, people can also sustain burns by being scalded; by coming into contact with electricity, chemicals, or a hot surface; by being near an explosion; and by exposure to radiation.

What is the most common type of burn?

43% of the patients admitted to burn centers were hurt by a fire or flame; 34% by scalding; 9% by contact with a hot surface; 4% by electricity; 3% by exposure to chemicals; 7% by other causes.

What kinds of accidents cause scalding burns?

While some instances of scalding happen in the home simply as a result of carelessness or perhaps not having a good grip on a pot of hot water, there are circumstances in which the negligence of another person or company can cause scalding injuries, and these are the ones in which the Louthian Law Firm can be of assistance:

  • A commercial kitchen may not have adequate safety procedures or training.
  • A nursing home, hotel, dorm, apartment complex or other housing may have failed to install temperature regulators on bath and shower plumbing. When tap water reaches 140° F, it can cause a third degree burn in just five seconds.
  • A nursing home or assisted living resident may be scalded while bathing if they are not properly supervised.

How does electricity cause a burn?

Some victims of electrical burns received their injuries from a “natural” source – lightning. By far, the vast majority of electrical burns are caused by contact with a manmade electrical current. Electrical burns can be tremendously devastating, whether they come from an electric arc, in which electricity travels through the air, or an electric current. They can completely destroy skin and tissue, requiring skin grafts or amputations. Electrical burns can happen anywhere there is wiring that is frayed; when a cord has been damaged, cut or worn from use; when the wiring was improperly installed; or from a defective appliance.

Where do chemical burns happen?

Oftentimes, chemical burns are sustained in the workplace, but they can happen at home as well when a person comes in contact with a toxic material or one that forms a dangerous reaction when combined with another substance. Most cases of chemical exposure occur in factories or locations where dangerous chemicals are manufactured or stored, but even office workers can suffer chemical burns from exposure to fumes if the area is not sufficiently ventilated. Some of the most common sources of chemical burns are degreasing solvents, cleaning supplies, and petroleum products. Occupations in which workers may suffer chemical burns are many and varied: maintenance and repair workers; maids, housekeepers and janitors; heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers; truck and diesel mechanics; and workers at labs and processing plants.

How are explosions involved in burn injuries?

An explosion that occurs when natural gas or propane is ignited by static electricity or a spark can cause a fire which then causes burn injuries. Additionally, even dust can ignite and explode with enough force to destroy a building. Plants where agricultural products are processed and stored have been the location of many tragic explosions, and factories where grinding and polishing are done must be diligent in their dust abatement procedures. While an explosion may result from commercial activity, innocent bystanders and area residents are often among the victims. The Columbia explosion lawyers of the Louthian Law Firm can help your family if an explosion has injured or killed your loved one.

Are burns common occupational injuries?

Yes. Work-related burns – whether chemical, electrical, or thermal — account for 20 to 25 percent of all serious burns in the United States.

What should employers be doing to prevent burn accidents?

Burn injuries are highly preventable. Employers have a duty to protect workers by following OSHA rules, maintaining equipment, providing adequate training and protective equipment, and implementing procedures that minimize the dangers inherent in some jobs and locations.

Don’t injured workers get workers’ compensation?

In most cases, yes. But workers’ compensation is limited to medical expenses and wages. It doesn’t compensate the injured individual or his family for things like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, reduced earning capacity in the future, scarring or disfigurement. In many cases, a workplace burn accident can be traced beyond the employer to a third party – the company which manufactured the defective equipment or tools which caused the injury; the non-employer owner of the building; a vendor or contractor on the employer’s property. Remember, damages from a third party can be sought in addition to workers’ comp.

Are there instances in which a house fire may be caused by negligence?

Absolutely, and this is when our investigative team will go into action, working to uncover the cause of the fire and identify all parties which may have had a role in creating the situation which caused the fire. Residential fires can be caused by:

  • faulty wiring
  • malfunctioning smoke detectors
  • defective appliances, such as space heaters
  • a contractor who took shortcuts
  • a propane appliance or supplier
  • negligent repairmen
  • and a host of other causes.

I have heard burns classified by degree. What does that mean?

The higher the degree, the more serious the burn. A first degree burn is when only the outer layer of the skin is damaged. It is usually red and painful, but healing occurs in 3 to 5 days. In second degree burns, there may be blisters, damage to the outer layer of skin and damage to some or all other layers of the skin. The burn victim may experience either pain or numbness, depending on the depth of the burn. Second degree burns may heal in a few weeks or they may require skin grafts after damaged tissue has been removed. In third degree burns, all layers of the skin are destroyed and damage extends into the tissues. These burns will most likely require skin grafts and may take months to heal. Fourth degree burns extend into the muscle and bone.

Why call the Louthian Law Firm after a South Carolina burn accident?

At the Louthian Law Firm, we have been helping hardworking people receive compensation for their injuries since 1959. When life goes wrong – when there has been a fire or explosion or chemical spill that has injured your loved one – it may seem that nothing will ever be right again. But we work hard to secure justice and help bring resolution to life’s most challenging moments for people in Columbia and all over the state of South Carolina. Phone (803) 454-1200 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about the accident which has caused your suffering.