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What Are the Degrees of Burns?

By Butler Prather LLP on May 25, 2022

Individuals who sustain burn injuries often have to undergo extensive medical treatment in order to make a recovery. In many cases, these injuries are caused by the careless or negligent actions of others. Here, we want to more closely examine the various levels of severity of burn injuries. These levels of severity are classified by “degrees.”

degrees of burns

What are the Burn Degree Classifications?

When we examine information available from WebMD and the University of Rochester Medical Center, we can see that burns are now classified from first degree to fourth degree. In the past, there were only really three degrees of burns discussed, but a fourth-degree adds the ability to more specifically classify each type of burn.

  • First-degree burn. These types of burns will only affect the outer layer of a person’s skin, called the epidermis. In general, the barn site will be red, dry, and painful but will likely not blister. The best example of a first-degree burn is a mild sunburn. Long-term damage in these situations is rare, but the most common side effect is tanning of the skin.
  • Second-degree burn. These types of burns involve both the epidermis and the next layer of skin, called the dermis. This will cause the burn site to become red and blistered, and it will likely be a swollen and painful area when this type of burn occurs. There could be some scarring with this degree of burn.
  • Third-degree burn. These types of burns not only destroy the epidermis and the dermis, but they may go into the innermost layer of skin, referred to as the subcutaneous tissue level. This type of burn site will likely look white or black and with some charring. Scarring is likely with a third-degree burn.
  • Fourth-degree burn. This is the most severe type of burn that a person can sustain. Not only will it destroy the epidermis, dermis, and the subcutaneous level, this will likely affect deeper tissues as well. This includes the muscle and even the bone. Often, there will not be any feeling in the burn area because all nerve endings will be destroyed. Scarring and disfigurement are likely in these cases.

Recovering Compensation for Burn Injuries

It is certainly possible for a person to recover compensation if their burn injury was caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity. For example, if a person sustains the burn injury as a result of the careless actions of a property owner or due to a defective product, they should be able to recover a range of economic and non-economic damages through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. This includes, but is not limited to, the following types of compensation:

  • Complete coverage of medical bills related to the burn injury
  • Lost income if a person is unable to work while they recover
  • Property damage expenses caused by the incident
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of quality of life damages

Burn injury compensation is often extensive, particularly for severe burns. And these situations, individuals often require extensive reconstructive surgeries and physical therapy to ensure a full recovery. Contact our Atlanta burn injury attorneys today.

Posted in: Burn Injury

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