When a car accident involves a fire, the occupants of the vehicle are likely to suffer burn injuries, which can be extremely painful and require years of medical treatment.
Types of Burn Injuries
Burns are classified according to their severity:
- First-degree burn: This is the least severe type of burn, only affecting the outer layer of skin (called the epidermis). Symptoms include redness, swelling, and pain. One common example (which is not a car accident injury) is a sunburn.
- Second-degree burn: This type of burn injuries both the epidermis and the underlying layer of skin (called the dermis). Symptoms include red, white or splotchy skin, swelling, blisters, and severe pain. The wound often looks wet or moist and can leave behind scarring.
- Third-degree burn: This type of burn injures the epidermis, dermis and reaches the layer of fat that’s beneath the skin. The burn often looks charred black or white, and the skin may appear waxy or leathery. Symptoms include numbness (because third-degree burns can cause nerve damage) and difficulty breathing (caused by smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Fourth-degree burn: This is the most severe type of burn. It not only damages the skin, underlying tissue, and nerve-endings but also the fat, muscle and sometimes even the bone. Fourth-degree burns are black and dry, often appearing charred or crispy. Because the burn damages the nerve endings, there is no pain. However, this also means that the burn can’t heal and amputation is often required.
Medical Treatments for Burn Injuries
Severe burn injuries require extensive — and often costly — medical treatment. The injury may initially be treated with a variety of creams, ointments, wound dressings and medications. But sometimes more intensive procedures are required. Examples include:
- Skin grafts: A skin graft is a surgical procedure where doctors replace the scar tissue caused by deep burns with pieces of your own healthy skin. Donor skin can also be used.
- Plastic surgery: If your burn injury leaves a lot of scarring, skin reconstruction is an option. This both improves the appearance of your skin and improves joint flexibility.
- Breathing assistance: Burns on the face or neck may cause your throat to swell, making it difficult to breathe. In that case, your doctor will insert a tube down your throat to supply oxygen to your lungs.
- Tube feeding: It takes a lot of energy for your body to heal a burn injury. To ensure your body is being nourished properly your doctor may put a feeding tube in your nose leading to your stomach.
A car accident victim should not be left to foot the bill for these expensive treatments. Our personal injury attorneys will help you receive the compensation that you deserve.
What Do I Do If My Car Is on Fire?
If you are in an accident and your car catches on fire, you might be too injured to react. But if you are able to react, the National Fire Protection Association recommends that you take the following steps:
- If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location on the side of the road.
- Turn off the engine.
- Get everyone out of the car, if possible. Once out of the car don’t go back in.
- Move at least 100 feet from the burning car, but make sure you’re not in the way of traffic.
- Call 911.
If you smell burning rubber or plastic after the accident, that might be a sign that your car is on fire. If you see smoke or flames, that is definitely a signal to get out of your car as quickly and safely as possible.
What Do I Do If I Suffer Burn Injuries in a Car Accident?
You have a right to compensation for your medical expenses, including medication, surgery, and physical therapy, but only if you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove that the accident was not your fault.
Also, keep in mind that personal injury claims are time-sensitive. Your personal injury lawsuit must be brought within two years of the accident.
While Oklahoma does not cap what you can recover for medical expenses, the law does place a $350,000 cap on what you can recover for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.
Reach Out to Our Office
If you or a loved one is has experienced burn injuries in a car accident, contact the law office of Charles Bryan Alred, P.C., today. Our passionate attorneys will assist you throughout each step of the personal injury process.