If you suffered burns through no fault of your own, a burn injury attorney can help with multiple aspects of your claim. We’ve written before about how much a burn injury may be worth. One of the most important elements of evaluating a claim is the long-term impact the injury may have.
Burn injuries can cause severe pain and psychological trauma. Unfortunately, these effects can be permanent in some cases. As noted in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Reviews Disease Primers, “[b]urn injuries [can] result in permanent scarring and adverse long-term sequelae that affect burn survivors and their caregivers.”
Along with physical and psychological effects, severe burn injuries can lead to significant financial costs for victims and their families. If you or a loved one sustained serious burns in an accident, a burn injury attorney can calculate the full value of compensation you may be due.
Call Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop at (402) 241-5020 today for a FREE case review. Our attorneys serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and all of Nebraska and Iowa.
Understanding the Permanent Effects of Burn Injuries
Whether and to what extent a burn victim will experience permanent effects depends largely on the severity of his or her burns. While full recovery is often possible with first-degree burns, second-degree burns and worse present risks for permanent effects. The possible permanent effects of burn injuries include:
1. Burn Scars
Scarring is among the most common effects of burns sustained in a vehicle collision, explosion, electrocution, or other accident. As explained on Healthline:
“Burns cause skin cells to die. Damaged skin produces a protein called collagen to repair itself. As the skin heals, thickened, discolored areas called scars form. Some scars are temporary and fade over time. Others are permanent.”
Burn injuries can cause three different types of scarring: hypertrophic, contracture, and keloid. While each type of scarring has its own unique characteristics, all three types can cause permanent changes in the physical appearance of burn victims’ skin. For many burn victims, this scarring also causes permanent physical limitations (i.e., limited mobility) as well as chronic pain.
In cases of severe burns, the skin often will not be able to regrow to cover the entire wound. When this happens, a process called contraction occurs.
As Regions Hospital explains, “the body closes the wound by drawing on the surrounding skin . . . often result[ing] in a loss of normal movement for the affected area.” While it may be possible to restore “near-normal” movement with rehabilitative therapy, burn victims who experience contraction will also generally experience permanent effects.
3. Skin Discoloration
Even once it heals, burned skin may still be discolored. While this discoloration can fade over time, most burn victims will still be able to notice that their skin is no longer the color it once was. Skin grafts and other surgical procedures can cause skin discoloration as well.
4. Nerve Damage
Severe burns can damage the nerve endings in the skin as well as the nerves below it. While nerve regrowth is possible in some cases, it is fairly common for burn victims to experience permanent nerve damage.
The effects of permanent nerve damage may include:
- Loss of sense of touch
- Tingling (or a “pins and needles”) sensation
5. Abnormal Perspiration
In addition to the nerve endings in the skin, the sweat glands in the skin can suffer damage due to severe burns as well. If a burn victim’s sweat glands do not fully heal or do not heal properly, this can cause permanent abnormal perspiration.
For example, burn victims will often experience anhidrosis, “a condition in which you can’t sweat (perspire) normally in one or more areas of your body.” As the Cleveland Clinic notes, “[s]weating helps remove heat from your body so you can cool down. If you can’t sweat, your body overheats, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening.”
6. Psychological Trauma
Along with permanent physical effects, suffering severe burns can also cause permanent psychological trauma. This includes trauma from the accident itself, as well as trauma that results from the physical disfigurement and limitations that burns so often cause.
There are treatment options for managing the effects of psychological trauma. However, for many burn victims, recovery will prove to be a lifelong process.
7. Financial Strain
Due to the various permanent physical and psychological effects that can result from severe burns, many burn victims and their families will also experience long-term financial burdens. These include financial strain caused by the victim’s medical bills, as well as the victim’s inability to work (whether temporarily or permanently).
As a result, it is important for burn victims and their families to stand up for their legal rights. Financial compensation may be recoverable in a number of different cases. A burn injury attorney can evaluate the economic and non-economic challenges you and your family are currently facing and likely to face in the future. Your lawyer can then seek maximum compensation for these losses.
Speak with a Burn Injury Attorney Today
Second- and third-degree burns may have permanent adverse effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Treating a burn injury can be very expensive, and the ramifications on your ability to work and your day-to-day life can be enormous.
A burn injury attorney at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have more than 200 years of combined experience handling virtually all types of personal injury claims.