From stove splashes to gas explosions, burn injuries can be life altering. Burns may be caused by heat, fire, chemicals, friction, and/or radiation. They are usually categorized as first-third degree burns, however, extremely severe burns may also be classified as fourth degree.
First degree burns generally involve just reddened skin. Treatment for a first degree burn is usually minimal and most first degree burns will heal without any scarring or ongoing discoloration to the skin. Although most first degree burns can be treated at home, if a large area of the body is affected or critical body parts are affected, one should consider seeing a doctor to ensure proper healing and avoid the potential for scarring.
Second degree burns involve blistering and some skin thickening. Second degree burns affect more than the top layer of the skin and can be extremely painful. Treatment may include bandaging to guard against infection. Although most second degree burns will heal over a period of two to three weeks, some require skin grafting and may take longer to heal.
When a burn has affected every layer of the skin, it is classified as a third degree burn. Ironically, sometimes the area of the third degree burn is less painful because of the damage that has been caused to the nerves. However, when people have third degree burns, they often have other areas with second degree burns so that the burn injury in general is still extremely painful. Where tissue, bone, or tendons beyond the layers of the skin has been damaged, the burn may be considered fourth degree.
Severe burns may lead to significant medical complications such as permanent nerve damage and / or organ failure. For more information see http://www.healthline.com/health/burns
When representing clients that have sustained burn injuries, the obvious first consideration is to ensure they are receiving appropriate medical attention. Treatment for burn injuries in and of itself can be extremely painful. Debridement of the wounds may involve painful scraping down to fresh skin. An attorney should consider documenting through video and/or photographs the treatment process. There is no substitute for an audiovisual depiction of your client’s pain and suffering through the recovery process.
Periodic and dated photographs also capture the progression of the wounds and will help convey to the insurer or to a jury the duration of the client’s injury.
If the burn has left scarring, a professional photographer may be needed to capture discoloration under different lighting, temperature, or tanning conditions. Consider what if any plastic surgery or treatment could help the scarring in the future. Obtaining a medical report to project the future costs of any such treatment as well as the likelihood of success is crucial.
In addition, documenting the impact that such scarring has had on your client’s day to day life in terms of embarrassment, self consciousness, loss of self confidence, can be challenging but must be considered in order to present the case fully and effectively.