Burn injuries are common and can lead to a long recovery. Each year, an estimated 1.1 million Americans visit emergency rooms to treat burns and other fire-related injuries. Accident victims who suffer severe burns must often endure excruciating physical pain, chronic discomfort, and an uncertain path to recovery. 

Suffering burn injuries in a car accidentBurn Injuries and Car Accidents

Car accidents are often traumatic events. The force of impact can twist metal, tear skin, and break bone. However, modern automobiles are engineered to avoid combustion, and burn injuries in car accidents are relatively rare. But those who do suffer burns often face life-altering repercussions.

Your Greatest Risk of a Burn Injury

  • A high-speed collision with a reckless, distracted, or intoxicated driver
  • An accident with a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle carrying fuel or another hazardous substance
  • A crash with a stationary object such as misplaced construction equipment or a fallen tree

Burns Can Be Caused by More Than Fire

  • Heat. High temperatures can cause tissue death, charring, and extensive scarring. Heat, fire, and flame are responsible for most accident-related burn injuries.
  • Electricity. Electricity can cause burns when it enters and travels through the body. Car accident victims may suffer burns along with other electricity-related injuries, including internal organ damage and cardiac abnormalities.
  • Chemical exposure. Chemical burns can be caused by exposure to acids, gasoline, and other hazardous substances.

Severity Level of Burns

  • First-degree burns. A first-degree burn is a superficial burn that affects the outermost layer of skin—the epidermis. Patients usually have no symptoms beyond localized redness, dry skin, and mild pain. Car accident victims could suffer first-degree flash burns if the collision generates any significant amount of heat.
  • Second-degree burns. Second-degree burns affect the epidermis along with the second layer of skin—the dermis. These burns can cause swelling and localized discoloration. Blisters can develop around burn sites, and pain may be severe. If a second-degree burn penetrates deep into the dermis, it could cause permanent scarring.
  • Third-degree burns. Third-degree burns are serious injuries that can char the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. Damaged skin can turn brown or black and take on a leather-like appearance. Since third-degree burns can destroy nerves, accident victims may feel numbness.
  • Fourth-degree burns. Fourth-degree burns are the most serious category of burns and can be life-threatening. They affect each layer of the skin and can even damage bone. Recovering from a fourth-degree burn can require intensive, months-long treatment.

What to Do After Suffering a Car Accident Burn Injury

A serious burn injury can leave car accident victims in severe physical pain and significant emotional distress. While it may be difficult to stay calm and think clearly after a crash, survivors need to protect their legal recovery by taking the following steps:

Call 911

Virginia state law requires that drivers report any accident that results in bodily injury, death, or extensive property damage. Even if you only suffered a minor, first-degree burn, you may still need to inform the police. While the investigating officer may not be able to determine fault on-site, your attorney could use their report to begin building a case.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

You should always seek immediate medical attention after suffering a burn injury, even if you do not believe it is very serious. Burn injuries can conceal more extensive damage to the tissue and nerves. Additionally, seeing a doctor will show the insurance company that you have legitimate concerns about your health and are not exaggerating your injuries.

Follow Your Physician’s Orders

Burns can be very sensitive injuries that demand additional care. If your physician has instructed you to enroll in physical rehabilitation or restrict your movement, prioritize your health and comply with your doctor’s orders.

Keep Detailed Records

Recovering from a burn injury can be a months-long journey. For many car accident survivors, pain-related symptoms and physical scars never fully heal. If you are experiencing residual pain or significant emotional distress, keep a journal detailing your symptoms.

Contact an Attorney

Obtaining compensation after a Virginia car crash can be difficult. Even if the accident was not your fault, the other driver’s car insurance company might not offer a fair settlement. An experienced Virginia accident attorney could help you collect the evidence needed to convince an insurance adjuster, a judge, or a jury that your injuries cannot be ignored.

Securing Compensation After Suffering a Burn Injury

The costs of health care are at an all-time high. According to the American Burn Association, treating a moderate to severe burn could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. For victims who are forced to undergo surgery or receive skin grifts, expenses can easily exceed $1 million. Even with a comprehensive insurance policy, survivors might be left on the brink of financial ruin.

However, Virginia car crash victims should not have to pay out of pocket for an accident that was not their fault. Under state law, you have the legal right to file a claim for compensation against the person or party who caused your collision.

Potential Damages

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Paid deductibles and co-pays
  • Prescription medication
  • Counseling
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Lost income from work
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Wrongful death

Virginia does not currently cap the compensation available to most accident victims. However, the Old Dominion still has a strict statute of limitations. If you wait too long to file a claim, the statute of limitations could lapse, and the court could dismiss your case on a technicality.

Contact a Virginia Car Accident Burn Injury Attorney Today

You should never be forced to pay the price for another driver’s mistakes. If you or a loved one suffered burn injuries in a Virginia car accident that was not your fault, you could be entitled to significant compensation. Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC has spent years defending the rights of Virginia accident victims. Please send us a message online, or call us at 703-691-8333 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.