Burn Injuries and Their Causes

When you think of car accident injuries, you probably think of broken bones, bloody lacerations, or life-changing head trauma. One thing you probably tend to not think of, though, is burn injuries.

Burn Injuries from Car Accidents

A burn is an injury that results from damage to the skin and tissues. Fire and heat are the most common causes of burns, but other causes include cold, electricity, chemicals, and even too much sunlight. During a car accident, causes include:

  • Contact with hot metal or other heated elements of the vehicle
  • Contact with hot water or steam from the damaged car
  • Chemicals burns
  • Friction burns, also called “road rash”

The impact of a burn can range from mild redness to blistering and loss of sensation, and severe burns can lead to death or permanent injuries.

Types of Burn Injuries

Burns are generally broken into three categories:

First degree burns, also called superficial burns, are the mildest type of burn. The affected skin is red or slightly swollen, but there is generally not any blistering or scarring. Still, even first degree burns can be very painful, though they do not usually require immediate medical attention.

Second degree burns, or partial thickness burns, go a little farther into the skin and reach the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. Because of this, second degree burns are more painful than first degree burns. They may blister, appear a deep red color, or be white or discolored.

Finally, there are third degree burns or full thickness burns. Third degree burns occur affect both the epidermis and the layer of skin below it. The symptoms of a third degree burn include leathery or dry skin, discoloration, and swelling. If a burn destroys nerve endings, there might not be much pain or any other feeling in the affected area. Similarly, if the epidermis and hair follicles are destroyed, the burned skin does not grow back.

There are burns beyond the third degree, which involve the burning of bones, ligaments, and tendons. These types of burns are very likely to be fatal.

Treatment and Complications

Minor burns, like those caused by steam or sunburn, can generally be treated at home with cold water, antibiotic ointments, and gauze bandages. However, if a burn is second or third degree or is accompanied by other symptoms, like cardiac arrest or other trauma after a car accident, the victim should be taken to the hospital. Even if a burn does not seem that bad, medical attention is still important, as untreated burns can become infected, leading to potentially deadly complications.

At the scene of a car accident—or anywhere else, do not overlook burn injuries! From infection to scarring, there are many complications that can arise from even minor burns, and they should be treated just like any other injury.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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