Burn Injury Attorneys

Austin Burn Injury Lawyer

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Austin Burn Injury Lawyer

Many burn victims with minor burns can be treated at home and heal within a matter of weeks, but more serious burn injuries will require first aid and wound assessment, with treatment possibly involving medications, wound dressings, therapy, and surgery. Some severe burns may also require treatment at specialized burn centers for skin grafts to cover large wounds, depending on their severity.

Severe burn injuries can involve possible lifelong disabilities and disfigurement that dramatically change the lives that people are able to lead, and it is important for people with burn injuries to understand that such burns could occur due to someone else’s negligence. According to the American Burn Association, fires are most commonly associated with the cause of burn injuries, but there are actually several potential causes of burn injuries.

Understanding Burn Injuries and Your Legal Rights: Types of Burn Injuries

Medical treatment for burn cases can include medications and products such as water-based treatments that clean and stimulate wound tissue, intravenous (IV) fluids that prevent dehydration, pain and anxiety medications like morphine, burn creams and ointments like bacitracin and silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene) for wound healing, specialty wound dressings to prepare wounds to heal, drugs intended to fight infections, and tetanus shots.

Texas state law allows people to file a personal injury claim relating to burn injuries through personal injury lawsuits in which they can allege that another party was at fault for their burn injuries. People can recover multiple kinds of damages in these cases, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering as well as possible punitive damages when another party acts with fraud, malice, or gross negligence.

With the help of personal injury lawyers, a person can file a lawsuit for burn injuries when another party had a legal duty to provide a duty of care, the other party breaches that duty, the breach of duty causes injuries, and the injuries result in damages. Wrongful death lawsuits can also be filed in cases of people who die from their burn injuries.

Burn injuries are classified into the following degrees:

  • First-Degree Burns — First-degree burns affect only the epidermis, which is the thin, outer layer of skin. First-degree burns are frequently referred to as being superficial burns and do not typically result in infections or scarring. Skin can often heal within a matter of days and sunburn is a good example of a first-degree burn, because the burn site is red, painful, and dry but usually does not have any blisters. Long-term tissue damage is rare and usually only consists of an increase or decrease in skin color.
  • Second-Degree Burns — A partial thickness burn damages both the epidermis and the layer below it, the dermis, the middle layer of skin containing blood vessels, lymph vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, collagen bundles, fibroblasts, and nerves. Second-degree burns may result in blisters, deep redness, and skin that is painful to the touch but the burns could heal within a matter of weeks provided that the wounds are kept clean and protected.
  • Third-Degree Burns — Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis, dermis, and underlying bones, muscles, and tendons, including the subcutis, or the deepest layer of skin. The burn site could appear to be black, white, red, or charred with no sensation in the burn area because nerve endings are destroyed. A third-degree burn is also known as a full thickness burn, and it will not heal on its own, so skin grafting is often necessary.
  • Fourth-Degree Burns — Fourth-degree burns are potentially life-threatening. These are some of the most severe and deepest kinds of burn injuries affecting every layer of the skin, muscles, tendons, and bones. People will have no feeling in the area of a fourth-degree burn, and bone may possibly be exposed.
  • Fifth-Degree Burns — Fifth-degree burn injuries involve all of the skin and subcutaneous tissues being destroyed while muscle and bone are exposed. These burns can again be fatal because of the damage to major arteries and veins. Fifth-degree burn injuries may require amputation because of the damage to muscles. Permanent and prominent scarring with loss of keratin in the area of the burn often occurs.
  • Sixth-Degree Burns — Sixth-degree burn injuries involve heat destroying all skin and muscles, leaving almost nothing besides charred bone. Sixth-degree burns are nearly always fatal. Victims do not necessarily feel pain but almost certainly go into shock.

The most serious burn injuries will require skin grafts, a sort of surgery in which providers will take healthy skin from one part of the body and transplant it. Healthy skin is usually taken from a place on a person’s body called a donor site through a split-thickness skin graft.

A donor site could be any area of a person’s body, but many times the area is one hidden by clothes like a person’s buttock or inner thigh. Several different types of skin grafts include:

  • Split-thickness skin grafts (STSGs) — An STSG is a graft containing the epidermis and a portion of the dermis. The thickness of STSGs varies, because they could be classified as being thin (0.005-0.012 inches), medium or intermediate (0.012-0.018 inches), or thick (0.018-0.030 inches) depending on the amount of the dermis that is included. STSGs can be taken from any area of the body, and factors to consider with regard to donor sites include donor skin characteristics, the amount of skin required, convenience, and scar visibility. Providers usually use STSGs to cover large areas of damaged or missing skin, and the area where donor skin was removed typically heals over the course of one to two weeks.
  • Full-thickness skin grafts (FTSGs) — Unlike the epidermis and partial dermis involved in STSGs, FTSGs involve the complete epidermis and dermis. The Burow’s graft or island graft is a FTSG in which grafted tissue will not originate from a distant donor site but will instead be obtained from skin adjacent to a defect. An FTSG is often used when all layers of the skin will be needed to close a wound or to cover small areas. FTSGs are most often used to repair damaged skin on a person’s face or skin on the fingers. FTSGs can take longer to heal.
  • Composite grafts — Composite grafts contain two or more layers of tissue, such as skin, cartilage, and other tissue. They may provide a combination of coverage, contour, and support, but they are also at a higher risk for failure than skin grafts. Composite grafts are commonly used for repairing small defects not only requiring good color and texture matches but also a certain degree of contouring and support.
  • Autografts — An autograft is a permanent skin graft replacing burned skin by removing skin from one place on the body and placing it on the burned area of the body. Autografting can be the safest and fastest-healing tissue to be used, but autografting also creates a second surgical site in which a patient will have to recover. Allografts and homografts are temporary grafts to cover wounds in which the donor skin comes from another person and xenografts are temporary grafts to cover wounds in which donor skin comes from a pig.
  • Mesh grafts — Mesh skin grafts are STSGs or FTSGs in which parallel rows of staggered slits are cut. The mesh incisions will allow a graft to be expanded to cover large defects when donor sites are limited, provide a route for drainage of fluid from under the graft, and increase the flexibility of the graft, so it can better conform to uneven recipient beds. Surgeons may then expand the mesh to cover a large burned area of a body.
  • Sheet grafts — A sheet graft is a piece of donor skin that is harvested from an unburned area of the body. The size of the donor skin will be about the same size as a burn wound. The donor sheet is then laid over a cleaned wound and stapled into place. Donor skin used in sheet grafts will not stretch as it takes a slightly larger size of donor skin to cover the same burn area because there will be slight shrinkage after harvesting. FTSGs can offer better cosmetic results because there is less associated contraction than thinner grafts.

Common Causes of Burn Injuries in Austin

Burn injuries occur in several different ways. Some of the most common causes of burn injuries often include, but are not limited to:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Defective products
  • Workplace accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Fires from electrical devices
  • Unsafe premises
  • Direct contact with hot liquids or gasses
  • Hot metal, glass, or other objects
  • Electrical systems and currents
  • Chemicals

The Role of an Austin Burn Injury Attorney in Your Case

When a person suffers burn injuries, the first thing that an Austin personal injury attorney will do is commence their own independent investigation into the accident that caused the injuries. An experienced burn injury lawyer can collect all relevant evidence in the case and then begin preparing a complaint against a negligent party. The lawyer will also work towards ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve.

After an attorney completes their investigation, they will often draft a demand letter to be sent to the insurance company for the negligent party. Chances are very good that an insurer will not give much credence to a demand letter, so a lawyer often needs to get the insurance company to begin settlement negotiations.

Settlements are common outcomes to burn injury cases because insurance companies do not want to pay the high costs involved in taking cases to trial. While a select few cases will ultimately make it all the way to court, you are much more likely to end up settling your case before a trial becomes necessary.

 Burn Injury Settlements: Seeking Compensation for Your Burn Injury

People who suffer major burn injuries in Texas can often secure compensation for the injuries caused.  Most cases result in awards of compensatory damages, which are intended to restore a person to their original condition or as close thereto.

Compensatory damages often break down into two distinct kinds of damages known as economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are the kinds of costs that people are actually paying for, and often include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage

Non-economic damages are far more subjective and usually do not have inherent financial values. Common kinds of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of consortium

Punitive damages may also be possible in a very select number of cases, as punitive damages are only awarded to punish people for instances of fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Punitive damages in Texas also have a limit or a “cap” of two times the amount of economic damages plus an amount equal to any noneconomic damages not to exceed $750,000, or $200,000.

Working with a Trusted Austin Burn Injury Lawyer

Burn victims must contact an Austin burn injury attorney for consultation immediately after an accident.

Again, people will be wise to work with an experienced Austin burn injury attorney when they might have a burn injury case. A lawyer will be of benefit to most people because they can help develop a legal strategy to help a person recover as much compensation as possible.

Many people will require medical attention for their burn injuries, and an attorney can also assist a person to seek medical attention they need. If a person is having a problem paying their medical bills, a lawyer may be able to negotiate a medical lien that allows a person to pay all of their bills out of their settlement or jury award.

Why Choose Our Firm for Your Burn Injury Case?

Photo of Minesh Patel, burn injury lawyer of The Patel Firm

The Patel Firm is a logical choice for many burn injury victims because we provide legal representation on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not pay us anything unless we win or settle your case.

Our law firm is exclusively dedicated to personal injury matters, so burn injuries are one of the specific types of cases that we are ideal to handle. Our record of success includes millions of dollars recovered for our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Burn Injury Claims

What should I do if I get burned?

Many first-degree burns can be treated at home. You should immerse the burn in cool tap water or apply a cold, wet cloth but do not apply ice, butter, or ointments to a burn. Cover your burn with a sterile bandage. Should blisters form, do not pop them. Let blisters heal on their own. Second- or third-degree burns will require immediate medical attention.

How long will it take burns to heal?

The healing time for a burn can vary, usually depending on the degree of burn suffered. A first-degree burn often heals in a matter of days, no more than a week, but other more serious burns will require several months.

How much pain am I going to be dealing with?

Burn injuries can involve two types of pain, with one kind being background pain that is present, tolerable and usually more bearable but the other type of pain is a more excruciating and intolerable pain that often occurs during wound cleansing, dressing changes, or rehabilitation therapy. Burn centers often use two different kinds of pain medication, with methadone being used to control background pain while morphine IV deals with acute pain. The fact is that there is always some pain associated with recovery from a burn injury.

Am I more susceptible to skin cancer because of my burn injury?

The National Library of Medicine states that development of malignant tumors in chronic burn wounds or scars is extremely rare, but remains a frequently reported complication. Many tumors are squamous cell carcinoma, although basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma are also reported. The interval between an initial burn and the diagnosis of a tumor can be 20 to 30 years or more.

The Patel Firm Austin Car Accident Lawyer
611 S Congress Ave Suite 215D
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 887-1447

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