Burns and Chemical Burns

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Each year across the United States, thousands of people suffer burn injuries sustained at work, while driving, or in household accidents. Burns of any degree can be extremely painful, and in some cases they will require long periods of recovery and rehabilitation, accompanied by extended hospital stays, costly surgeries, and continuing medical treatment. When the burns are the result of the negligent or reckless conduct of another party, a personal injury lawsuit may be filed to obtain compensation for the victim's pain and suffering, medical bills, and other related expenses.

A Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York burn injury lawyer from the Locks Law Firm can assist you in litigating a personal injury lawsuit to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact our catastrophic personal injury attorneys to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

Types of Burns

Burns are rated in degrees of severity, ranging from less serious (first-degree), to more serious (second-degree), to the most severe (third-degree). It is possible for a burn victim to sustain one, two, or all three degrees of burns on different parts of his or her body.

First-Degree Burns

A first-degree burn is the least extensive category of burn and affects only the epidermis, or thin top layer of the skin. First-degree burns may be caused by briefly touching the metal handle on a pot of boiling water, or grazing the skin with a hot curling iron. These burns may result in areas of redness, puffiness, and minor pain at the location of the burn, but most often do not require any medical treatment or result in any permanent damage to the skin or body.  Usually such minor injuries do not result in viable lawsuits.

Second-Degree Burns

A second-degree burn, as its name implies, is more serious than a first-degree burn and extends deeper into the skin to affect the papillary, or superficial, and reticular dermis of the skin. Some blistering of the skin and more intense pain than first-degree burns is to be expected with a second-degree burn, which may be caused by directly exposing the skin to open flame or other high-heat source. Because a second-degree burn may extend deep enough into the skin to damage nerve endings, it is not unusual for these burns to initially seem only mildly painful. However, once the nerve endings in the skin have recovered, the sensation of pain will increase.  Extensive second-degree burns can be very serious.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are the most serious burns and are commonly evidenced by visible charring of the skin, purple fluid leaking from the burn area, and the formation of leathery lesions, called eschars, on the skin. Third-degree burns often affect nerve endings in the skin, which can make the injury feel less painful immediately after it is sustained and can mislead some victims into believing that the burn is not that serious. Third-degree burns can also affect muscle tissue and bone. Most often, third-degree burns require immediate medical care to guard against infection and other complications.

If you have suffered a burn injury, a Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York burn injury lawyer from the Locks Law Firm can evaluate your potential case and help ensure that you are seen by the proper medical professionals, who can treat your wounds and get you on the road to recovery.

Causes of Burns

Burn injuries can be caused by fires and explosions, accidentally coming into contact with downed electrical wires, caustic chemicals, or molten liquids forcefully erupting from improperly designed plastic injection molders or extruders. Although most commonly associated with flames, burns can also result from coming into contact with hot liquids.

Heat Burns

The most common source of burn injuries is exposure to fire, heating elements or other sources of heat. Fireplaces, ovens, barbecues, and automobile parts, including exhaust systems, are common in most homes and cause thousands of burns every year. Heat burns can be of any degree, from minor (first-degree burn) to more serious (second-degree), and even severe (third-degree).

Electrical Burns

When an electrical current is transferred to the body, the skin tissue and internal organs may be seriously injured. Electrical burns commonly result from accidentally coming into contact with “live” electrical wires or wall outlets. Electrical burns are particularly dangerous because while they can critically injure internal organs and the body's electromagnetic structure, the external skin where the electrical current entered the body may appear unscathed. Therefore, people who suffer electrical burns should be sure to immediately seek proper medical attention, regardless of how the skin appears.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns result when people come into contact with caustic chemical compounds, such as a type of acid, that are harmful to the skin. Silver nitrate, sodium hydroxide, and sulfuric, nitric, and hydrofluoric acids are the most common sources of chemical burns. Some household cleaners and solvents are also threats to cause chemical burns. Wet cement also causes alkaline burns. A Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York burn injury lawyer from the Locks Law Firm can review your case and determine if the chemical burn is the result of a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, which could form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit.


Coming into contact with hot water, other liquids, or gasses can result in scalding burns. These burns often occur in homes, such as when a cooking pot holding boiling water or cooking oil falls from a stove top, or when a person, particularly a child, is placed in a bathtub containing water that is far too hot. Scalding burns typically are localized and affect only the part of the body that comes directly into contact with the hot liquid or gas, but they can be very painful. People who work in industrial areas with exposed steam or water pipes may suffer scalding burns on the job.

Oil or Gas Explosions

Some of the worst burn injuries occur from gas or oil explosions.  Gas expands when exposed to heat and may expand sufficiently to cause the vessel containing it to fail. At that point, the exposure of the escaping gas to any source of ignition, even static electricity, may cause a massive explosion with serious injuries to anyone in its path. When such an event occurs, it is important for your lawyers to investigate the scene with appropriate experts and consult with public authorities investigating the accident to determine the cause of the escape of the gas and the source of ignition. Leaking propane tanks in the presence of an open flame grill can also be the source of a serious explosion and burn injuries.

Cold Burns

Because burns are so closely associated with fires and hot surfaces, some people are surprised to learn that they can suffer a burn from cold elements. For example, frostbite, which can result from prolonged exposure of the skin to freezing cold temperatures, is a common type of cold burn. However, cold burns can also occur quickly, such as when the body comes into contact with liquid nitrogen, liquid helium, dry ice, and some types of canned, compressed air. Cold burns can result in the same injuries and symptoms as more common burns produced by heat and should be taken just as seriously.

Contact a Locks Law Firm Burn Injury Lawyer

For more information about the degrees of burns, the common causes of burns, and how you may be able to obtain monetary compensation for a burn, contact a Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York burn injury lawyer at the Locks Law Firm. Our experienced, dedicated attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to evaluate your claim and help determine your legal rights and options.

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