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What You Need to Know After Dealing with Burn Injuries From a Car Accident

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Burn injuries from a car accident are tremendously challenging to overcome. One moment, you’re driving down the road. The next, you’re doing everything you can to escape with your life. This life-scarring moment can leave you asking how the fire happened and where you can go from here. 

It feels unfair. You were driving safely and following the laws, and someone else’s negligence completely altered the course of your life. You shouldn’t have to face this difficulty on your own. 

At Eng & Woods, we’ve worked with several individuals dealing with burns from car accidents, and we’re here for you. If you were burned in a serious car accident due to negligent behavior, please visit our contact page or give us a call at 573-874-4190 to schedule a free consultation.

Keep reading to learn more about how car accident fires occur, symptoms you or a loved one may deal with after a burn, and what you should do next. 

Causes of Car Accident Fires

While any fire can be a frightening experience, vehicular fires can differ from residential and other dwelling fires. One expert from a forensic investigation firm compared vehicular fires to a fire in a barrel or a small incinerator. Flames from a car accident can quickly engulf the vehicle and burn out within 45 minutes to an hour.

Why Do Car Fires Burn So Quickly?

If you’re wondering why car accident fires burn so quickly, here are two items to consider:

#1. The Problem with Plastic

Modern vehicles are made up of a lot of plastic. While the polymers in today’s automobiles are typically flame retardant, these chemicals are only meant to slow the spread of the flame. They are not meant to stop the fire. When exposed to a flame for long enough, the heat will drive these fire-slowing additives away. Unprotected plastics exposed to an open flame burn quickly and violently. 

#2. When Vital Fluids Become Dangerous

Motor vehicles require several fluids to run properly, and these fluids can accelerate flames. Substances such as gasoline, motor oil and antifreeze are essential to keeping your car running for a long time. When contained in the proper parts of the engine, they are unlikely to cause a fire on their own. However, if these fluids come into contact with sparks from a faulty wire or another fire source, they will quickly burn. 

What Causes Car Fires?

Car accident fires can start from a number of sources. In a report from the National Fire Data Center, researchers found that the top contributing factors to highway vehicle fire ignition were: 

  • Mechanical failures and malfunctions – This could include leaks or breaks in vehicle components, automatic and manual control failures or the use of an improper fuel. Mechanical problems caused 45 percent of highway vehicle fires in the report’s time sample.
  • Electrical failures and malfunctions – Short circuits and overheated wiring contribute to highway vehicle fires. 
  • Misuse of a material or product, such as spilling flammable liquid or gas too close to the vehicle. As mentioned earlier, automobiles of all shapes and sizes require flammable liquids to operate, including gasoline. If these materials are spilled inside a car that is involved in the accident, the car is more likely to ignite. 
  • Product default – Often a car fire may be caused by a defect in the vehicle. The defect may be the initiating cause of the fire, such as overheated batteries in newer electric vehicles or a defect that causes flammable fluid to leak onto the hot engine block. There can also be faulty safety features (or a lack of) that cause a fire to occur in an otherwise minor accident.  

While it is unlikely that the flame originated from the vehicle’s initial impact, an automobile accident can quickly create the perfect conditions for a fire. Once the engine is compromised, flammable liquids from the engine can combine with a heat source to ignite. 

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact start of a vehicular flame, it’s a great idea to have any available vehicle maintenance documentation ready for your case. You want to be ready to prove you did your due diligence to ensure your vehicle was roadworthy. Now that we’ve had a moment to cover some of the potential causes of a vehicle fire let’s go through what you may be dealing with now and in the future when addressing your burn. 

The Effects of Burn Injuries From a Car Accident

If you or a loved one are dealing with a serious burn from a car accident fire, you know the great deal of physical pain and turmoil that this injury comes with. When we are assessing a case, we want to get the full picture of how an injury is affecting a client now and how the injury could affect the client in the future. Burns can have a long-term effect that the victim should prepare for. 

Here are some commonly reported complications after dealing with burns: 

    • Physical pain and inability to carry out daily tasks – Burns can cause lasting pain. Depending on the severity and location of the burn, the injury may inhibit your ability to carry out your work or other regular tasks. 
    • Acute stress disorder (ASD) – Burns can cause intense stress responses within a month after the event, like anxiety, feeling numb or detached, and a feeling of intense fear. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Car accident fires are intensely frightening situations. Unlike ASD, PTSD lasts for a longer period of time. Small, everyday occurrences can trigger a stress response. 
  • Depression – Reduced physical function and changes in appearance can lead to higher reports of depression, even years after the event took place. 

The side effects of burn injuries from a car accident can be incredibly challenging to overcome, but there is hope. With support from loved ones and fair compensation from a personal injury case, you can move forward and recover to the best of your ability. Let’s cover a few steps you can take to better solidify your case.

What You Should Do If You’ve Been Burned in a Car Accident

If you are currently dealing with a burn from an auto accident, here are a few steps we recommend you take to get the best possible outcome of a burn case:

  • Attend every doctor’s appointment. Making it to your scheduled appointments is the first step in recovering from a car accident burn. Always mention your pain, symptoms and difficulties you are experiencing. Don’t spare any details. Your health care provider’s evaluation and notes are critical for building your case.
  • Follow your provider’s advice and recommendations for care. Listening to your provider and staying consistent with any recovery methods they give you are critical to your rehabilitation. It’s critical to have a record of compliant behavior to demonstrate your desire to recover. 
  • Call an auto accident attorney. Finally, if you’ve been badly burned in a car accident, it’s a great idea to consult with an experienced attorney sooner rather than later to learn how much your case is worth. Burns can have lasting effects that should not be overlooked when seeking fair compensation for your case. 

What Can an Auto Accident Attorney Do for My Burn injuries from a car accident?

The team at Eng & Woods is adept at uncovering every angle of our clients’ cases. Our attorneys have consulted with plastic surgeons during previous burn cases to gain professional insight regarding: 

  • The causation of scarring 
  • If revision of scars is possible 
  • The cost of future treatment 
  • Long-term scarring determination

We do everything we can to set your case up for success because we believe that you deserve justice. Visit our contact page to schedule a free consultation today.

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  • Columbia Office
    1000 West Nifong Boulevard, Building 7
    Suite 201
    Columbia, Missouri 65203
    Phone: 573-874-4190
    Fax: 573-874-4192
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