Chemical Burn Injuries

The American Burn Association states that in 2013, a total of 450,000 incidences of burn injuries were treated in hospitals, community health centers, and private medical offices. The National Fire Protection Association states that between 2003 and 2007, there was an annual average of 20,900 chemical burn injuries—about 9 percent of the total number of burns.  It is important that you contact an experienced Pittsburgh chemical burn injury lawyer for legal assistance if you or a loved one suffer a chemical burn injury resulting from negligent actions of someone else.

The majority of chemical burns occur at the workplace, as this is where people most often come into contact with dangerous chemicals that can cause injuries. Sometimes it’s obvious that an accident has happened, but other times the exposure takes time to create symptoms, making these types of injuries particularly treacherous.

In most cases, victims of workplace chemical burns can recover losses through a workers’ compensation claim. They may also choose to file a personal injury lawsuit if a third party was involved. The Chaffin Luhana Pittsburhg, PA burn injury attorneys have the experience necessary to evaluate each claim and help manage the case in a way that optimizes potential for recovery.

What Causes Chemical Burns?

We use more chemicals today than at any time in human history. For example, burns can be caused by the following chemicals:

  • Sulphuric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • Hydrofluoric acid
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Ammonia
  • Sodium and calcium hypochlorite
  • Phosphates

A number of things can affect the severity of the burn, including:

  • The type of chemical
  • How long it remains before being washed away
  • How concentrated it is
  • How much of the chemical is in the solution
  • Whether it touches the skin, or is swallowed or inhaled
  • Whether the skin is healthy when exposed, or contains previous wounds

Symptoms of Chemical Burns

Chemical burns may become apparent right away, or only after a certain amount of time has passed. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Pain and burning
  • Redness and irritation
  • Blisters
  • Numbness around the area of contact
  • Black, dead skin
  • Deep tissue injury
  • Vision changes

Chemical burns can be severe, sometimes resulting in third degree burns that require surgery. If the chemical is inhaled or swallowed, other symptoms may develop, including shortness of breath, coughing, fainting, headaches, dizziness, seizures, diseases like cancer, or even heart attack which can result in wrongful death.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If your exposure to the chemical happens while you’re on the job caused by a workplace accident, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Employers are responsible for providing and managing the use of required safety equipment, as well as for establishing a safe work area with adequate ventilation and workspace. They’re also responsible for maintaining equipment, and ensuring that all employees have access to the gear they need to work with various chemicals.

In a workers’ compensation claim, you don’t have to prove fault. You simply have to show that you were exposed to a dangerous chemical while on the job—a chemical that directly resulted in your injury. A chemical burn attorney in Pittsburgh, PA can help you prove this, by assisting in the gathering of evidence and documentation to support your case.

A successful claim will typically cover the following types of losses:

  • Medical bills
  • Costs for rehabilitation therapy
  • Costs for medications, ambulance care, etc.
  • Lost wages
  • Lost ability to earn wages in the future
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Pain and suffering

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Though filing a workers’ compensation claim is the most common route to recovering damages, if another party was responsible for the incident, it’s possible the victim could recover damages from that party, as well.

Examples of other potential responsible parties include:

  • The chemical manufacturer, if they failed to include adequate warnings about the risks of injury on their product packaging, or failed to disclose the required safety equipment needed to work with the chemical.
  • Another person, if the victim can prove that the person was responsible for the injury. If a supervisor told the employee to do something that resulted in the burn, for instance, that supervisor may be held liable.
  • The employer, if they don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance. If the employer refuses to provide adequate safety equipment for the job being completed, they may also be found liable in court.

Your Chemical Burn Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one suffered a chemical burn while on the job, the injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana in Pittsburgh, PA can help you file a workers’ compensation claim, and will also evaluate your case to see if there were any other responsible parties. Our goal is to obtain the optimal level of damages to help you fully recover from the incident. To find out how we can help you, contact us today.