When you think of a serious car accident, burn injuries are probably not the first thing that springs to mind. Unfortunately, burn injuries caused by car accidents can cause serious damage and they happen more often than most people realize. A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that roughly 250,000 people are admitted to hospital emergency rooms annually due to burn injuries specifically caused by car accidents. The recovery time for a serious burn injury is often much greater than the recovery time for other common accident-related injuries such as broken bones and lacerations.
What types of burn injuries can car accidents cause?
Due to the high potential for disfigurement, scarring, and emotional trauma, damages related to burn injuries are often devastating. If your burn injuries were caused by a car accident that was not your fault, contact the experienced Virginia Beach burn injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp for a free consultation.
Auto Accidents and Burn Injuries
Auto accidents, even minor ones, can be traumatic. The impact force is capable of shearing and twisting metal, ripping flesh, and breaking bones. Fortunately, modern technological advances do a reasonable job of preventing vehicle combustion but burn injuries can still happen. When they do, most victims are forced to deal with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
Types of Burn Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
Burns can be caused by more than just contact with fire. The types of burn injuries most commonly associated with car accidents are:
- Thermal Burns: Thermal burns can happen when your skin comes into contact with flames produced by an explosion or a fire. Hot surfaces can also lead to thermal burns, like if your skin makes contact with your car’s engine while it is still hot.
- Electrical Burns: Modern vehicles are outfitted with complex electrical systems, including batteries, wiring, switches, and various other components. The impact of a car crash could cause one or more of these electrical components to malfunction, causing electrical burns to those inside the vehicle.
- Chemical Burns: Your car needs a few different fluids in order to work properly. Many of these fluids, such as battery acid, gasoline, and motor oil, are corrosive or hazardous. Many of these substances are capable of causing chemical burns and other injuries to anyone who is exposed to them. Large tanker trucks transporting toxic substances are another potential source of chemical burns if an accident occurs.
- Scalds: As hot liquids evaporate, they let off steam which can cause scalding injuries when it touches you. The brake fluid, water, and antifreeze in your car can all get hot enough to cause scalding injuries if they are not handled with care.
Along with the cause and type, another important element of your case is the severity of your burn. Burn injuries are broken down into four different groups. They are:
- First-degree burns: First-degree burns are superficial, impacting only the epidermis (the top layer of skin). Symptoms usually include mild discomfort, dry skin, and localized redness. Some accident victims could receive first-degree flash burns if the crash produces any significant level of heat.
- Second-degree burns: These burns are slightly more serious, affecting both the epidermis and the dermis (the second layer of skin). Symptoms of second-degree burns are usually localized discoloration and swelling. Blisters may form around the injury, and pain can be severe. If the burn extends too deep into the second layer of skin, it can leave permanent scars.
- Third-degree burns: Burns of this magnitude are serious. They can char the top two layers of skin along with the subcutaneous fat, sweat glands, and hair follicles. The damaged skin often turns black or brown and develops a leather-like quality. Third-degree burns often destroy nerve endings so a common symptom is numbness of the affected area.
- Fourth-degree burns: The most severe classification of burn injuries is fourth-degree burns. Fourth-degree burns damage every layer of skin and fat and can even damage muscles and bones. They are usually life-threatening. Recovering from a burn this serious will likely require intensive, painful, and ongoing medical treatment.
Can I Be Compensated for a Burn Injury?
Health care costs more now than it ever has before. The National Institute of Health states that medical treatment for a moderate to serious burn injury could run into the hundreds of thousands. For victims who have no choice but to receive skin grafts or undergo surgery, medical bills can easily surpass $1 million. Even those with comprehensive health insurance policies could be left facing an uncertain financial future.
Car accident victims should not be forced to live in penury because of a collision that was not their fault. Virginia personal injury laws entitle you to file a claim for financial compensation against the individual or entity responsible for your accident.
Damages you may be eligible for include:
- Current and anticipated medical bills
- Co-pays and paid deductibles
- Physical rehabilitation
- Prescription medicines
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages due to missed work
- Reduced earning capacity
- Decreased quality of life
- Wrongful death
Although Virginia does not cap the amount of compensation available to accident victims, it does have a two-year statute of limitations. Failing to file your claim in a timely manner could result in you losing the right to receive damages.
Contact a Virginia Beach Burn Injury Lawyer
You should never have to pay for someone else’s negligence. If you sustained serious burn injuries in a car accident caused by someone else, you could be entitled to financial compensation. With more than 50 combined years of experience, the Virginia Beach car accident burn injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries and other damages. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (833) 997-1774 or filling out or online inquiry form. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.
Rick Shapiro has practiced personal injury law for over 30 years in Virginia, North Carolina, and throughout the Southeastern United States. He is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and has litigated injury cases throughout the eastern United States, including wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad, and medical negligence claims. During his three-decade career, Shapiro has won client appeals before the VA Supreme Court, VA Court of Appeals, NC Supreme Court, SC Supreme Court, WV Supreme Court, TN Supreme Court, and three times before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, underscoring Shapiro’s trial achievements. In addition, he and his law firm have won settlements/verdicts in excess of $100 million. His success in and out of the courtroom is a big reason why he was named 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in railroad law in U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers publication (Norfolk, VA area), and he has been named a “Best Lawyer” and “Super Lawyer” by those peer-reviewed organizations for multiple years. Rick was also named a “Leader in the Law, Class of 2022” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (total of 33 statewide honorees consisting of lawyers and judges across Virginia). And in September 2023, Rick was selected as a recipient of the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) 2023 President’s Award. Although many nominations were submitted from across the country, Rick was just one of eight attorneys chosen by the prestigious National Board which certifies civil trial attorneys across the U.S. Rick was also recently named to Virginia Lawyers Weekly 2024 Virginia’s Go To Lawyers Medical Malpractice. The attorneys awarded this honor are nominated by their colleagues and chosen by a panel from the publication.