Brian White | January 31, 2023 | Personal Injury
Children are vulnerable to burns for many reasons. Curious about their world, children will play with matches, touch hot pots and pans, and perform other actions that can result in severe or even fatal burn injuries.
Hot water burns are particularly dangerous. Infants and toddlers often lack the strength or coordination to get out of a hot bath, leading to severe burns. And even older children can suffer burns over large areas of their bodies if they spill hot liquids on themselves.
For any parent, it is essential to learn more about burns and how you can seek compensation if your child suffers a burn due to someone else’s actions.
What Are Burns?
Burns happen when a chemical process damages or destroys your body’s tissue.
Some causes of burns include:
- Hot objects, liquids, or gases
- Caustic chemicals
- Electrical currents
Thermal burns come from hot objects, liquids, and gases. In theory, a hot pan, hot water, and steam all cause the same type of burn. Burns from hot liquids and gases are often more dangerous because a spreading fluid can contact a larger area of your body than a solid object.
When your body tissues touch something hot, the cell walls burst, and the proteins change. Just as a piece of meat cooks on a hot pan or in boiling water, your flesh will undergo a similar change when it touches something hot.
Rating Burn Severity
When a child drinks a hot liquid, thermal burns from scalding water can happen internally. But most thermal burns happen externally when hot water contacts the skin.
The skin has three layers, including the:
- Epidermis: The outer layer of skin
- Dermis: The middle layer of skin
- Hypodermis: The deepest layer of skin
The extent of the resulting damage depends on which layers of the skin are affected.
Doctors rate burn severity using a rating scale that has three levels:
A first-degree burn only damages the epidermis. It is the least severe type of burn. It usually produces:
You can typically treat a first-degree burn with home care, like ice and loose bandages. You should also talk to your doctor about applying antibiotic cream or ointment.
Second-degree burns destroy the epidermis and begin to affect the dermis. These burns can cause:
- Blistering and peeling skin
- Seeping wounds
This burn is harmful because it can become infected. It can also produce minor scars. But these burns will usually heal with home care and antibiotic medication.
A third-degree burn, also called a full-thickness burn, destroys the epidermis and dermis. Since the nerve endings sit in the dermis, this creates seemingly contradictory symptoms where a third-degree burn produces less pain than second-degree burns. The skin will be gray and dry. It may even feel like leather.
These burns can cause potentially fatal symptoms. Accident victims with third-degree burns may also face many complications, including disfigurement.
Complications from Burn Injuries
Burn injuries can produce complications, including:
The skin keeps moisture inside your body. When the epidermis gets damaged or destroyed, you lose moisture and dehydrate. Your blood volume may drop due to a lack of fluid in your body, leading to serious consequences.
Your skin keeps microorganisms out. After a burn, bacteria and viruses can get into the body. Once inside, they multiply. They consume resources meant for your cells. They may even release toxins to eliminate body cells that compete with them.
In response, your body triggers fever and swelling. This reaction traps and kills microorganisms. But it can also make you very sick. If the reaction overwhelms your body, it can cause sepsis.
Scars develop because replacement cells do not have the same elasticity as your original cells. When your body grows new skin after a burn, the new skin can feel tough and appear discolored. These scars can permanently disfigure you. Burns treated with skin grafts are particularly vulnerable to scarring.
Contractures are tissues that harden after an injury. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue can form contractures after severe burns. These contractures pull so tightly that they restrict your movement. They can also contort your fingers, toes, limbs, or face.
Burn Risks for Children
Children are vulnerable to burns for a few reasons. For example, children have thinner skin that burns more easily. Adults sometimes forget that comfortable temperatures for them can burn infants and children. Even hot tap water can scald a child.
Children also lack the strength and coordination to prevent hot drinks from spilling. They may accidentally pull on mugs, pots, or bowls of hot liquid, causing them to pour onto the child’s skin.
Because of their vulnerability to burns, horseplay or practical jokes with hot water can inadvertently burn a child. And other children or adults can intentionally cause burns through assault and abuse.
Liability for Hot Water Scalding Burns
Someone else might bear liability for a child’s hot water scalding burns. Some examples of potential claims for burn injuries include:
- Product liability claims against manufacturers of defective products
- Assault claims against people who intentionally burn your child
- Negligent supervision claims against caretakers who accidentally burn your child
- Premises liability claims against owners or tenants with an unreasonably dangerous burn hazard on their property
Different types of claims require you to prove different claim elements to recover compensation.
For example, premises liability and negligence claims require you to prove that someone failed to exercise reasonable care, and as a result, your child got injured. Assault requires proof of an intentional act of harmful contact. And product liability requires you to prove that the product was dangerously defective.
Compensation for Child Burn Injuries
The compensation you can seek for your child’s burn injuries can include both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include the cost of your child’s past and future medical treatment, mental and physical therapy, and medication. They can also include your child’s future income losses if the burn caused a permanent disability.
Non-economic losses include the diminishment in your child’s quality of life due to:
- Mental anguish
- Reduced enjoyment of life
With the help of a qualified Houston personal injury lawyer, you may be able to seek compensation for these losses in Texas. Compensation can help you secure your child’s future and hold those responsible for your child’s burn injury accountable.
Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
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