A burn injury is among the most painful types of injuries. In addition to the acute physical pain a burn may cause, a burn victim may experience emotional suffering because serious burns are often disfiguring.
At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, our experienced Oklahoma burn injury attorneys provide dedicated legal representation to people who have suffered burn injuries because of another’s negligence. Founded in 1984, our law firm has been helping burn survivors and other accident victims for more than 30 years. Our firm secured the largest judgment for burn victims ever reported in Carter County, Oklahoma.
Our compassionate attorneys understand a burn victim and his or her family is enduring a difficult recovery. We offer personalized one-on-one attention to address the financial aspects of the recovery. We have represented clients in many counties and communities throughout Oklahoma. Contact us today if your loved one has been severely burned in an accident.
Classifications of Burn Injuries
After the accident that injured you or your loved one, you may have heard the burn injuries described according to the degree of severity.
Burns are classified as:
- First-degree burn. This results in damage to the outer layer of skin, which causes pain, redness and swelling.
- Second-degree burn. This is damage to the outer and underlying layers of skin (epidermis and dermis), which results in significant pain, redness, swelling and blistering. Second-degree burns look wet and moist. This level of burn injury may leave a scar.
- Third-degree burn. Damage extends to fat tissue below the skin and leaves exposed skin looking stiff, waxy, leathery or tan. Because of nerve damage, the victim may experience numbness instead of pain. A third-degree burn will likely cause scarring.
- Fourth-degree burn. A fourth-degree burn damages muscle, tendons, and bone and is potentially fatal. Skin may be blackened or charred. Ironically, because of extensive nerve damage, the victim may feel no pain.
First-degree burns are akin to a mild sunburn, can usually be treated at home and heal in a few days to a week. Second-degree burns require medical attention, and someone who has suffered a third- or fourth-degree burn will require hospitalization. Less serious burns that cover large parts of the body or that cover the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint also require emergency medical care.
Treatment for major burn injuries is likely to include reconstructive surgery followed by cosmetic surgery and rehabilitation therapy. A serious burn victim is likely to be scarred or disfigured for life.
Because of the loss of skin, even when hospitalized, a serious burn victim is highly susceptible to infection, which can be deadly. An individual who has suffered serious burns in a fire is also likely to have respiratory damage, which may prove fatal.
Even if the recovery goes well, an outpatient burn victim may require rehabilitation therapy, psychological therapy, the use of mobility devices such as walkers or wheelchairs, and future cosmetic surgery.
What to Do if You Are Injured by a Burn in Oklahoma
Any second-, third- or fourth-degree burn requires emergency medical treatment. The American Burn Association says you may rush a second-degree burn victim to a hospital, urgent care clinic or a doctor’s office. Dial 911 for assistance with a more serious burn injury.
Even a small burn wound has the potential to become infected. For a first-degree burn treated at home, you should seek follow-up medical attention as soon as possible. If you think the individual’s life is in danger or you are in doubt as to what to do, call 911.
As you await the arrival of emergency responders, move the victim away from the source of injury if possible. In cases of electrical burns, make sure the source of electrical current is off before touching the victim.
For a serious burn injury, the Mayo Clinic says to also:
- Make certain the burn victim is breathing. If needed, begin rescue breathing if you know how.
- Remove jewelry, belts and other restrictive items, especially from around the neck and burned areas. Burned tissue swells rapidly.
- Cover the burn with a cool, moist bandage or a clean cloth that will not stick to the burn.
- Have the burn victim sit up, if possible, to elevate the burned area above heart level and lessen swelling.
- Watch for signs of shock. Signs and symptoms include fainting, pale complexion or breathing in a notably shallow fashion.
- Upon signs of shock, lay the person down and elevate their legs and feet slightly, unless you think this may cause pain or further injury.
For a first-degree burn, run cool (not cold) water over the wound or apply a cool, wet compress to sooth the burning sensation. Once the burning eases, apply an aloe vera cream or a moisturizer, and bandage loosely. You may give the victim ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) for pain.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
Burns are caused by a transfer of energy to the body. There are several types of burns based on how the energy is transferred:
- Thermal burns. A thermal burn occurs when an external heat source raises the temperature of the skin and potentially other tissue and causes tissue cell death or charring. Open flame, scalding liquids, steam and hot metals can cause thermal burns if they come into contact with the skin.
- Electrical burns. These are burns from electrical current, whether alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). Electrical burns usually have an entrance and exit wound because the current enters at one point and leaves the body at another point, which may be the larger wound. The visual size of the burn may not reflect the extent or depth of the internal injury.
- Radiation burns. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun or from other sources of radiation, such as an x-ray, can cause radiation burns.
- Chemical burns. Strong acids, alkalis, industrial detergents or solvents can burn if they come into contact with the skin and/or eyes.
Our Oklahoma City burn injury lawyers typically help clients burned by:
- An arc flash burn from an electrical source
- A propane or natural gas explosion or fire
- A thermal burn from a hot surface
- Scalding from steam or hot liquid
- An explosion in a commercial or residential setting
- A chemical burn suffered in a work setting
- A home or business fire.
Oklahoma Burn Injury Statistics
Burns are typically the result of an accident or equipment malfunction or failure.
The Paul Silverstein Burn Center at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City says 2 million Americans are burned severely enough to need medical attention every year. Of them, 130,000 require hospitalization, and 20,000 burn patients die. Burns are the third-leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
A residential fire is reported every 64 minutes, and 75 percent of burn injuries occur in the home. Nearly 3,000 fires occur in businesses in the U.S. every year.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that, nationwide in 2017, there was a civilian fire injury every 36 minutes, and a civilian fire injury in home fires every 50 minutes. In all, 83 percent of all civilian injuries occurred in structure fires and 9 percent occurred in highway vehicle fires.
The NFPA estimates that there were 22,500 intentionally set structure fires and 8,500 intentionally set vehicle fires in 2017.
Structure fires caused $10.7 billion in property damage, including $7.7 billion in property loss in home fires, the NFPA says. Highway vehicle fires resulted in $1.45 billion in property loss.
How You Can Get Compensation For Your Burn Injury
While every case stands on its own, Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons has a track record of pursuing full and fair compensation for our injured clients. We hold negligent people and businesses accountable for their harmful actions. Our commitment to the successful outcome of a case can make a world of difference to a person who has sustained a serious burn injury.
Our legal team will investigate the incident that led to your burn injury by reviewing local officials’ reports, gathering evidence independently, and seeking the opinions of expert fire/arson investigators. We may determine that an individual, entity (such as a business or civic group) or manufacturer is responsible for your injury.
Our team will examine your medical records to determine the full extent and costs of your burn injuries. We will discuss a burn victim’s prognosis for recovery and future medical needs with his or her doctors and with independent medical professionals. The claim we develop will account for economic losses up to the date of the claim and for projected future expenses and losses, such as future surgery and loss of income due to an inability to work.
A personal injury attorney at our firm can help you or your loved one seek compensation for a burn injury in one of the following ways:
- Negligence claim — This type of claim can be filed if someone acted carelessly and caused an accident in which you suffered burns. This could be the owner of a property with inadequate fire exits or sprinklers or a careless driver who caused a vehicle accident that resulted in a fire.
- Strict liability — If your burn injury is linked to a defective product, the manufacturer is strictly liable under Oklahoma law. In arc flash cases, we have been successful arguing that electricity is a product, not a service.
- Workers’ compensation — Burn injuries often result from oil field, refinery and construction site accidents. If you sustained a burn injury on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are having trouble obtaining workers’ compensation benefits including paid medical care, let us review the situation.
Contact Our Oklahoma City Burn Injury Firm Today
Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons understands the physical, emotional and financial stress that a serious burn injury can cause. We strive to obtain the compensation that covers the full extent of your harm. Contact our firm today online or call us at 405.528.4567 to arrange your free consultation to learn how we can help you.Get Started