Burn Injury

A mild burn injury will cause severe pain but produce no long-term consequences. But severe burns could result in disfigurement, disability, and emotional distress. As a result, you might lack the ability to earn a living. You may even shut yourself off from others.

Burn injuries also damage your only protection against contamination and infection: your skin. You could suffer complications from your burns that might lengthen your recovery time or even kill you.

What Is the Structure and Function of Your Skin?

What Is the Structure and Function of Your Skin?

Your skin protects your body from contamination by chemicals, microorganisms, and radiation. It helps your body retain water so that it does not dehydrate. And it provides touch sensations to your brain.

The skin has three layers. The surface layer, called the epidermis, forms a water-tight barrier. The layer below the epidermis is called the dermis. The dermis provides the bulk of the skin’s structure. The dermis holds the hair follicles and contains the nerve endings. It also has oil glands that keep the epidermis smooth and moisturized.

The hypodermis sits below the epidermis and dermis. The hypodermis contains a layer of fat that insulates the body. It also includes connective tissues to hold the skin to the musculoskeletal system.

Skin cells are alive. They require oxygen for cell metabolism. The blood carries oxygen to the skin cells through blood vessels in the dermis.

The blood also carries platelets and white blood cells to the skin. When the skin gets breached, platelets form a clot to stop the bleeding, and the white cells attack and neutralize any pathogens that have entered the skin.

How Do Burn Injuries Happen?

Burn injuries result from a chemical reaction that destroys skin cells. Different reactions produce different types of burns, including these:

Thermal Burns

Hot objects, liquids, and gases transfer heat energy to your cells. Heat damages and destroys cells by causing them to rupture. Thermal burns can happen in motorcycle accidents when your leg touches the exhaust system during a crash.

Combustion Burns

Flames consume your cells by using them for fuel. Combustion burns can happen in premises liability accidents when a landlord fails to fix fire hazards in a residence or business. They can also happen in car accidents when leaking fuel ignites.

Radiation Burns

Radiation damages skin cells by altering their atoms. The most common radiation burn comes from the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. But radiation burns can happen in work accidents involving X-ray machines, lasers, and radioactive materials.

Chemical Burns

Caustic chemicals react with the skin and destroy the cells. Some chemicals that can burn skin include:

  • Acids
  • Organic solvents
  • Oxidizers like bleach
  • Lye, ammonia, and other alkaline chemicals

Chemical burns usually happen in work accidents. But they can also happen in car accidents when the damage causes caustic chemicals like brake fluid to leak.

Friction Burns

Friction burns result from high-speed rubbing of the skin. The most common source of friction burns is road rash from pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents.

Electrical Burns

When an electric current enters your body, it can produce extremely high temperatures because of your body’s water content. Electrical burns can happen in work accidents and premises liability accidents.

How Do Doctors Rate the Severity of a Burn Injury?

Burn severity is categorized on a scale containing three degrees.

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns damage the epidermis. These minor burns produce:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling

First-degree burns usually only require first aid. Your doctor will probably prescribe ice packs, painkillers, and antibiotic ointment to treat a first-degree burn.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns destroy the epidermis and reach down into the dermis. These burns cause the same redness, pain, and swelling as first-degree burns, but you might also experience blistering and seeping wounds.

Second-degree burns also only require first aid. However, you should still consider consulting your doctor to make sure that you did not suffer third-degree burns. And if your burns cover a large area, your doctor may need to dress them and prescribe antibiotics to reduce your risk of infection.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are also called full-thickness burns. These burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. Since the dermis holds the nerve endings, third-degree burns do not cause pain. Instead, you will feel numbness in the burned areas.

Other symptoms of a third-degree burn include:

  • Swelling
  • Dry or leathery skin texture
  • Red, black, white, or gray skin color

Third-degree burns require medical treatment. Without whole, healthy skin, you are vulnerable to dehydration and infection. Your doctor will need to clean and dress your wounds. The doctor might even perform a skin graft operation to protect your wounds.

You might need to stay in the hospital while you recover from third-degree burns. Afterward, you may need follow-up surgeries to address any disfigurement.

What Complications Can Result from Burn Injuries?

Burn injuries often lead to complications because of the importance of the skin in maintaining your health. Some common complications include these:


Infections happen when pathogens enter your body. When your skin gets burned, it cannot protect your body from harmful bacteria and viruses. Once inside, the pathogens multiply and battle your body’s cells.

In response, your body will trigger swelling and fever. Between the toxic pathogens and your body’s response to them, you will get sick. You may even die.


Scars happen when replacement skin cells grow back tougher, thicker, and less elastic than the original skin cells. First- and second-degree burns usually produce only minor skin damage with no scarring. But third-degree burns can produce significant scars, particularly if doctors performed a skin graft procedure.


Contractures happen when your tissue shrinks after suffering burn damage. This damage can contort your skin, muscles, and connective tissue so tightly that your movement gets limited.

How Do You Obtain Compensation for a Burn Injury?

When you suffer a burn injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you can pursue compensation. You can often secure significant compensation for a burn injury due to the cost of treatment, substantial recovery time, pain, suffering, and disfigurement. All of these are compensable under Texas law.

A burn injury can leave you disfigured and disabled. You could require expensive treatment, including follow-up surgeries. To discuss your burn injuries and the compensation you can seek for them, contact the experts at George Salinas Injury Lawyers or give us a call at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation.