Touching a hot dish or sticking your hands under scalding water can make you recoil in pain. You may end up with a red mark where your skin contacted the heat, but in a day or two, the pain subsides. A small scar may remain, but you may soon forget where the scar came from.
Unfortunately, if you have been in an apartment fire, workplace explosion or other catastrophic event, you may have suffered burns that leave scars much deeper than a superficial mark. In fact, you may have heard of second- and third-degree burns, but when doctors informed you that your burns were fourth degree, you may have been unsure what that means or what outcome you can expect.
What is a fourth-degree burn?
A second- or third-degree burn can leave you with damage to several layers of your skin. You can expect a painful recovery and permanent, disfiguring scars in the affected area. For third-degree burns, you will likely require skin-grafting surgery to promote healing, but depending on the extent of the burns over your body, your outlook may be positive. If you have suffered a fourth-degree burn, however, you can expect the following:
- A burn that goes deeper than the skin and fatty tissue of your body
- Damage to your muscles and tendons
- Nerve damage that prevents you from feeling pain
- Exposed bone
- High risk of shock, which could also damage your heart and other organs as your body activates an inflammatory response to protect the affected area
- Multiple surgeries to repair the damage
Depending on the extent of the burn, you may lose blood flow or suffer organ damage, and any burn leaves you with a high risk of infection. If the fourth-degree burn on your arm or leg causes extensive damage to your nerves and muscles, doctors may feel it is appropriate to remove the affected limb.
What is your outlook?
Most victims of fourth-degree burns survive, even when burns affect 90% of their bodies. However, this does not mean life will be easy. Even years after your accident, you will deal with severe scars and potentially other complications. You may have disabling injuries, and you will certainly be facing a mountain of medical bills and an uncertain future.
If your burn injuries resulted from someone's negligent actions, a defective product, a Texas workplace accident or other incident that was no fault of your own, you may wish to reach out to a skilled attorney who can evaluate your case and guide you in the steps that may result in obtaining compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.