Injuries and even fatalities can result from a car accident, simply from the impact of the collision and all the breaking metal pieces that result. But the vehicles we drive are powered by gas or electricity or a combination of the two. This combustible energy can do just that, combust, in an accident, and that danger creates different injuries than those resulting from the impact.
Burns are some of the horrific injuries possible from a car accident. The heat and toxic chemicals can burn skin.
Some burns heal quickly and require minimal medical attention. However, burns often require intensive medical care and surgeries and can result in permanent disfigurement.
Types of Burn Injuries from a Car Accident
Burns are categorized by health professionals according to their depth in the skin.
- First-degree burns. The damage is only to the top layer of skin. Damage is minimal.
- Second-degree burns. There is blistering and more intense pain. These burns reach the second layer of skin.
- Third-degree burns. There is permanent damage to tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. The layers of skin are damaged.
There is something important to consider when people have been exposed to heat, toxic chemicals, flames, and/or electricity. Sometimes what seems like a first-degree burn becomes more serious. As blisters form and tissue dies, the resulting burns may be much more serious. Because some burns are deeper into the skin, there are dangers and possible complications. When burns are involved, medical attention is critical. Some problems that can result from a burn include the following:
- Infection. Burns damage the skin. With possible damage to layers of skin, the body becomes more susceptible to infections.
- Septic shock. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection. Sepsis is blood poisoning by bacteria, or an infection that spreads into the bloodstream. It is a critical medical condition that can result in tissue damage, organ failure, amputations, and death.
- Fluid loss. The heat damage from a burn increases the permeability of the capillaries, which means that plasma can leak out of the blood circulation.
- Pulmonary embolism. This may seem like an unusual result from a burn, but the person burned can suffer pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot. Pulmonary embolism symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough.
- Deep vein thrombosis. A blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs, can result from burns. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is often the result of burned extremities, particularly following a wound infection. DVTs are serious because the blood clots can loosen and lodge in the lungs. Symptoms of this may be leg pain and swelling, but there may be no symptoms.
What Causes Burn Injuries in a Car Accident?
There are several reasons a car accident can lead to burns. Here are a few of them:
- Car fires and explosions. It is the worst possible result of an accident because it is so difficult to get out of a burning vehicle, particularly with injuries. But the fact that cars are powered by gas or electricity means a vehicle fire can happen as the result of a collision.
- Airbag deployment. There are burns from the friction of a rapidly deploying airbag, but there are other reasons for burns from the airbag being released in a collision: They contain sodium azide and sodium hydroxide, which create thermal gases that inflate the airbag. When it deflates, the chemical can cause a burn.
- Dangerous chemicals. There are a lot of broken parts in a collision, and chemicals that may have been perfectly well contained before the accident are now spilled and people can be exposed to them.
- Exposure to hot metal or steam; scalding. It may be a big piece of metal that an injured person cannot avoid because of the collision, such as a crushed door. There are a lot of parts to a vehicle, and following a collision, many of them may be damaged. The heat and force of collision may be enough to cause burns from hot metal or steam, even if there is not a fire.
- Electrocution. Electricity that was properly contained may now be exposed, and if the people inside the vehicle are exposed to the electricity, they may receive terrible burns as a result.
What to Do following a Car Accident
With a car accident, those who are involved may not be able to help themselves or others. If it is possible to do so, there are steps you can take to protect those involved. A few important ones are as follows:
- Do not flee the scene. The human tendency, particularly if there is a concern that one may be at fault for the accident, is to not involve law enforcement. However, this is unwise. First, there might be injuries, possibly severe ones, and you may be leaving someone to die on their own. Second, it is illegal to do so. Lastly, it will make courts and insurance firms regard you as guilty.
- Call 911. Burn injuries, like many of the injuries that a car accident can cause, may be reduced with immediate medical attention.
- Move the vehicles. If it is possible to do so, get all vehicles to the side of the road. Some accidents are compounded because drivers behind the accident do not have enough time to react to the vehicles stopped in the lanes. This only increases the chances of injury and property damage.
- Check drivers and passengers. Check on those in your vehicle and other cars involved. See if all are OK.
- Exit the vehicles. If it is necessary to get out of the car, find a safe place to wait for emergency responders that puts some distance between the people and vehicles that might catch fire. For example, if there are liquids leaking beneath the vehicle or vehicles, particularly if the cars are near tall grasses, there is a chance of combustion. In this case, it is better to exit the vehicles, even though conventional wisdom will tell you to stay put following an accident.
- Do not refuse medical assistance. A lot of people involved in a car accident think they are fine when they are not. Adrenaline and endorphins kick in with the accident, and these two powerful hormones are doing their job by masking pain. However, hours later, those involved may realize that they are injured. With burns, what appears to be a minimal burn may be far more serious. It really is best to have medical professionals check you out immediately after the accident.
Middletown Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help Clients Burned in Car Accidents
Car accidents can cause all kinds of injuries and problems for the people involved. Injuries such as burns can mean a lifetime of pain. If you were injured in a car accident, the Middletown car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova have the experience and knowledge to help you. Our legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and will fight to secure compensation for which you are entitled. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.