Burn injuries occur more frequently than one might think, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting well over 1.1 million every year that require medical attention. Out of these, 50,000 require hospitalization and around 4,500 are fatal. However, it does not end there; each year, 10,000 people in this country die soon after they receive burn-related infections.
Many burn-related accidents and injuries occur in workplaces, even though industries have safety rules and regulations to protect workers. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), at least 5,000 individuals end up in hospitals after being burned at work.
Types of Burns
Serious burns can require emergency medical care, extensive surgeries, physical therapy, and long-term rehabilitation; the physical and emotional scars can last a lifetime. When skin is burned, the affected skin cells die, and severe skin damage can result. They can be caused by electrical components, chemicals, fires, sun exposure, and boiling or very hot liquids.
First and Second-Degree Burns
First-degree burns are also called superficial, since they only affect the skin’s first layer. These tend to be minor, with symptoms such as pain, swelling, and redness, and often heal in a few days. Second-degree burns damage the first layer and the layer under underneath, called the dermis. The skin gets swollen and turns bright red and can appear wet or shiny. Blisters will appear, and the burn will be painful.
Third and Fourth-Degree Burns
These burns are more severe and require emergency medical assistance. They can extend through all the skin layers, and the skin can turn dark brown, blackened, white and waxy, or leathery and raised. There may be no pain or blisters, since the burn may be associated with nerve damage. Fourth-degree burns can be life threatening, as they destroy all skin layers and damage muscles, tendons, and bones.
Even if a burn seems to be healing, it can still lead to complications. Third and fourth-degree burn victims are most at risk for problems involving blood loss, infections entering the broken skin, and shock. A common burn-related bacterial infection is tetanus, which damages the nervous system and can cause muscle contraction problems. Serious burns can also lead to very low body temperatures, which can cause hypothermia; another possible complication is hypovolemia, which is low blood volume when the body loses a great amount of blood from a burn.
Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Suits
When employees are burned during work, they are entitled to Workers’ Compensation. This may include two-thirds of their lost wages, medical and therapy expenses, and out-of-pocket costs for bandages, topical creams, and pain medicine.
Even if the burn injury appears to be minor, it can worsen in time and lead to complications. Any worker who is burned while at work should seek immediate medical attention. The incident should also be reported to the employer right away. If the burn is serious enough, it can cause permanent damage and prevent the worker from ever returning to work again; others may need years of medical care and rehabilitation.
In most cases, if the burn injuries were caused by a third party, the worker may have the option of filing a third-party lawsuit. These parties might include subcontractors, at-fault drivers, and manufacturers of defective equipment and machinery. Third-party suits allow plaintiffs to pursue monetary value for pain and suffering, all lost income, and possible punitive damages.
Vineland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Offer Legal Representation to Employees Burned at Work
If you experienced a burn injury at work, reach out to the knowledgeable Vineland Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law. Many burn injuries are preventable. Victims can end up with deep tissue damage, leading to medical expenses and other losses that end up costing thousands of dollars. For a free consultation, call us at 856-414-0010 or complete our online form. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.