Brad Pistotnik Law
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Can Chemicals Cause a Burn Injury?

Can Chemicals Cause a Burn Injury?

Can chemicals cause a burn injury after a motor vehicle accident? What are the signs and symptoms car accident survivors should look for following contact with these substances? When people think of a burn injury, most think of thermal burns caused by contact with open flames or hot objects. The fact is that many of the fluids within a motor vehicle can cause chemical burns when they come into contact with skin. Staying alert for this is essential, because even if smoke and flame are absent, chemical burns can cause significant, potentially permanent personal injuries.

Causes of Chemical Burns in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Spilled gasoline can cause a chemical burn when it makes contact with skin or if it is inhaled. The risk is greatest when the gas tank is ruptured or when fuel containers spill within the passenger compartment.

Car batteries are another common cause of chemical burns in motor vehicle accidents. If the battery is ruptured, it can cause a cloud of sulphuric acid to waft over the accident scene. Contact with sulphuric acid in a car accident is serious and can cause permanent eye and lung damage.

Contact with a hot radiator can cause scalding burns. However, contact with antifreeze is unlikely to cause a chemical burn. However, exposure to ethylene glycol vapor can cause significant irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract that is very similar to chemical burns.

Burn Injury in the United States

Nationwide, roughly 40,000 burn injuries require admission and treatment at a specialized burn center. However, only about 3% of burn injuries are caused by chemicals and require admission to a burn center for chemical burns. That is around 1,200 injuries per year. In 2017 alone, nearly 489,000 patients were treated for burn injuries in hospital emergency rooms. At roughly 3%, that is roughly 14,600 chemical burn injuries per year. Thus, while the number of injuries that require hospitalization is very low, the number that require treatment isn't insignificant.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Chemical Burns

Unlike thermal burns, the symptoms of chemical burns may not be immediately apparent. This is especially true when a motor vehicle accident occurs, because adrenaline can suppress pain. When a chemical burn occurs, car accident survivors may feel a burning/watering sensation in their eyes, experience strong headaches, itching, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. Survivors may even notice the formation of blisters or black, dead skin at the point of contact.

Prompt recognition of the symptoms of a chemical burn allows for prompt treatment. In most cases, this involves flushing the chemical off the skin with cool water. This can take 10 minutes or more. It also requires the removal of any clothing or jewelry that came into contact with the chemical. Once flushed and cleared, the burn should be bandaged, and survivors should be given pain relievers, and tetanus shots to prevent infection.

Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Brad Pistotnik is a burn injury attorney in Kansas. We represent clients when chemical burns cause personal injuries or wrongful deaths in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.