a burn victim getting their hand bandaged

Understanding Mild, Moderate, and Severe Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can cause catastrophic injuries and damage that requires lifelong treatment. Like most types of injuries, there are varying levels of severity for a burn injury. Depending on the degree of burn a victim sustains, they may require drastically different treatment and have a longer recovery timeline.

Below, we discuss the three degrees of burn injuries and what you can do if you have suffered a burn injury due to a product defect or fire hazard.

Three Degrees of Burn Injuries

A burn occurs when heat, chemicals, or radiation damages skin tissue. Like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), burn injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe (also known as first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree). Learn the differences between the three degrees of burn injuries:

Mild Burn Injuries (First-Degree Burns)

First-degree burns are mild and only affect the top layer of skin (the epidermis). With this type of burn, the skin may turn red and painful, but doesn’t typically blister.

One of the most common ways that people get first-degree burns is from sunburn or touching a hot stove before quickly drawing their hand away.

Typically, first-degree burns don’t require much treatment other than running cool water over the burn, applying aloe vera gel, and perhaps antibiotic cream. Additionally, taking a pain reliever can help manage the symptoms of a first-degree burn.

Moderate Burn Injuries (Second-Degree Burns)

Second-degree burns are more serious and damage the top and middle layers of skin (the dermis). Those who suffer from second-degree burns may experience pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.

Second-degree burns may be sustained from coming into contact with boiling water, open flames, and heavy-duty chemicals, like bleach.

Since second-degree burns are more likely to become infected than first-degree burns, these injuries should receive medical attention. A medical provider may prescribe a stronger antibiotic cream. Additionally, elevating the burned area can help reduce swelling. It’s a good idea to refrain from using the burned part of the body during the recovery time in order to avoid additional damage.

Severe Burn Injuries (Third-Degree Burns)

Third-degree burns can be life-threatening. These types of burns damage all layers of skin, and possibly even bone. Those who suffer from third-degree burns experience intense pain and possible loss of feeling.

Third-degree burns may be sustained after prolonged contact with boiling liquids, radiation, chemicals, dangerous products, or open flames.

Victims of third-degree burns need immediate medical attention. Medical providers may conduct skin grafts that replace damaged tissue with healthy skin from another part of the body. Additional treatments include IV fluids to prevent shock and dehydration.

The potential complications of third-degree burns include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Dehydration
  • Edema
  • Organ failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Severe infection that may cause amputation or sepsis

Can You Recover from a Catastrophic Burn Injury?

Most first- and second-degree burns will heal within a few weeks, given proper treatment. Third-degree burns, on the other hand, are more complicated. It is rare for a third-degree burn victim to make a full recovery.

These individuals require physical and occupational therapy to maintain joint mobility, regain feeling, and improve motor function. Additionally, many third-degree burn victims suffer from sustained emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However, advances in modern medicine have made it rare for a burn victim to die from their injuries. According to the Cleveland Clinic, many people who have burns covering even up to 90% of their bodies survive.

How Burn Injuries Can Happen in the Home

When people picture situations where catastrophic burn injuries happen, most envision a fiery car wreck or an industrial explosion. While these are legitimate causes of catastrophic burn injuries, they are not exclusive.

In fact, many burn injuries happen in the home. According to the American Burn Association (ABA), 73% of admissions to burn centers happen after a victim experiences a burn at home.

There are many burn hazards in the home. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Ovens and stoves
  • Heaters and radiators
  • Dryers and washing machines
  • Candles
  • Electrical outlets
  • Kitchen appliances, including pressure cookers and crock pots
  • Beauty products
  • Clothing
  • Heating pads
  • Children’s products

One way that fires break out in homes is from an improperly installed appliance. According to the American Red Cross, most home fires start in the kitchen during cooking—and usually on stovetops rather than in ovens. This is why it’s vital that, when we purchase heat-producing appliances, they be installed in our homes properly.

Another way that home fires can begin is if heat-producing appliances, such as stoves, ovens, heaters, and more, have an inherent design or manufacturing defect that makes them dangerous to use.

Defective products commonly associated with starting home fires include:

  • Faulty wiring: Negligence on behalf of the electrical system manufacturer and/or installer could cause a short circuit.
  • Gas explosions: Improper design, manufacture, or installation in these products can cause explosions or fires.
  • Faulty appliances: Electrical apparatuses in the home, such as electrical appliances and kitchen appliances, can become dangerously hot or cause sparks, flames, or an explosion.

Who’s Liable for a Burn Injury Caused by a Product Defect?

If you or someone you love has sustained a serious or catastrophic burn injury due to a product defect, you may not have to pay for your sudden medical bills and lost wages on your own.

Product manufacturers are required to send safe products to the market. The failure to do so, whether through oversight or deliberate negligence, may make the manufacturer liable for any accidents and injuries caused by their products.

There are several situations where a manufacturer may be held liable for a product defect, including the following:

  • Manufacturing defects: This type of defect occurs when there was a problem with how specific items in a line of products was made. This could affect only one product, or it could affect a series of products that were manufactured in the same batch. For example, a car with malfunctioning brakes may be isolated to that car alone, rather than that entire car model.
  • Design defects: This type of defect occurs when an entire line of products suffers from a similar defect. This means there was an inherent flaw in the way the product was designed. For example, if an entire line of a certain car model is susceptible to rollover accidents, then that indicates there was a miscalculation in the way the product was designed, even before it was manufactured.
  • Marketing defects: This type of defect is also known as “failure to warn” and occurs when a product fails to provide adequate warning or instructions on how to use the product safely. For example, if a drug manufacturer does not list the potential interactions or side effects of a medication, they may be held liable for any injuries that result from failing to provide that critical knowledge to consumers.

Suffered from a Catastrophic Burn Injury? Contact Us Today

Product liability cases can be complicated since there can be multiple parties to hold liable for negligence. At Shoop | A Professional Law Corporation, our experienced Los Angeles product liability attorneys can sort through the details of your case while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

Our team has a strong track record of success in cases like these, and we have recovered over $550,000,000 for our clients. Learn how we can help you, too.

Call Shoop | A Professional Law Corporation at (866) 884-1717 to schedule a free consultation.