Burns range from minor injuries such as sunburns that require topical first aid to severe disfigurement, life-long scarring and even death. If you are injured in a burn accident, your damages are based on the extent of your injuries — which are reflective of the categorization of the burn. There are four basic classifications of burn injuries. Relatively minor injuries are typically categorized as first- or second-degree burns, whereas more severe injuries typically fall into the categories of third- or fourth-degree burns.
First- and second-degree burns
First-degree burns result in damage the outer layer of skin known as the epidermis, resulting in redness and relatively minor and short-lived pain. Most first-degree burns are treated by using topical first aid — for example, by running water over the burn area or applying aloe. A common example of a first-degree burn is sunburn.
In contrast, second-degree burns damage both the epidermis and the next layer of skin known as the dermis. Sufferers of second-degree burns typically experience intense pain, along with swelling and, in certain cases, blistering around the burn area. Because of the potential for infection, a second-degree burn victim should seek immediate medical attention. Common causes of second-degree burns include sustained contact with hot surfaces or contact with certain chemicals, such as dilute sulfuric acid.
Third- and fourth-degree burns
Third- and fourth-degree burns cause significantly greater and longer lasting damage that can result in long periods of hospitalization, debilitating injuries, amputation and even death. A third-degree burn damages not only the epidermis and the dermis but also the fat layer beneath the skin. The burn area is likely to appear stiff and leathery, and the victim is likely to have suffered severe nerve damage. For this reason, the burn area is likely to be numb. One of the most common causes of third-degree burns is fireworks accidents.
Fourth-degree burns damage all of the areas harmed by third-degree burns, but also cause severe damage to the victim’s muscle tissue and bones. Also, like third-degree burns, fourth-degree burns cause nerve damage, but the damage is likely to be much more severe, leading to a complete absence of sensation in the damaged area. These burns are the most dangerous, as they are highly likely to lead to amputation, debilitation or even death.
Knowig the extent of your injuries can be one of the most important elements in determining your potential for damages. An experienced Oklahoma City personal injury attorney can present analysis of the various burn conditions to achieve maximum compensation for your harm.